Finn Harps 1 Galway FC 1
Report by Chris McNulty at Finn Park
PAUL McVeigh rescued a point for Finn Harps to preserve their unbeaten start to the season against Galway FC in Ballybofey.
Ten-man Galway, who had Derek O’Brien sent off midway through the first half, led after Vinny Faherty’s tasty opener in the 36th minute and looked set to close out for their first League of Ireland win.
Fifteen minutes from the end, Paul McVeigh – just four minutes after his introduction off the bench – drew Harps level. The Portsalon man drilled home after the ball sat neatly for him when Ruairi Keating’s advances were thwarted.
McVeigh’s goal continues Harps’ promising start to the season, but there were concerns here that they hadn’t pressed for a win as they might have, given that their opponents played for over an hour with only ten men after O’Brien’s dismissal.
The newly-formed Galway FC arrived in Ballybofey without a goal in the opening three League matches, but Faherty’s goal set them on their way. A local tailor in Galway had offered a reward for the man who broke the duck for the Tribesmen with Faherty now set to receive a new suit for his strike.
The visitors carved the first meaningful opening in the tenth minute. Stephen Walsh threaded through for Faherty, but Harps goalkeeper Conor Winn – a former Galway player – was out to clear. With Winn well off his station, Paul Sinnott tried a cheeky long-range effort, butt the ‘keeper managed to stretch a hand out to save.
Galway were dealt a hammer blow in the 26th minute when O’Brien saw red for dissent after he’d chopped down James Doherty on the touchline.
With O’Brien barely back in the dressing room, Harps were inches from being in front. Tiofack whipped in the free kick and Keating connected well, only for Martin Conneely to clear from beneath his own crossbar.
Despite the numerical disadvantage it was Galway who kept the feet on the gas and they took a deserved lead in the 36th minute. From just inside the Harps box, after a Marc Ludden throw-in was broken down, Faherty delightfully curled into the top corner of Winn’s net.
Harps could have been on level terms in the dying moments of the first half. It took a superb save from Conor Gleeson to keep Galway ahead. Tiofack did well to beat the offside trap and his delicious cross was met by Keating, but the on-loan striker was denied by a strong point-blank save from Gleeson.
Harps retained the same eleven that whacked Cobh Ramblers 5-0 here last Friday night, with the same attack-minded system to include the marauding wing-backs James Doherty and Ciaran Coll.
Harps sought a way back into the tie with Doherty and Coll combining in the 70th minute, the stretching Coll just unable to direct Doherty’s cross goal-ward.
It was from a Coll cross that Harps did grab the leveller when McVeigh pounced to seal a hard-earned share of the spoils.
Finn Harps: Conor Winn; Damien McNulty, Keith Cowan, Packie Mailey; James Doherty, Michael Funston, Pat McCann, Tommy Bonnar, Ciaran Coll; Carel Tiofack; Ruairi Keating.
Subs: Josh Mailey for Bonnar (61 mins), Paul McVeigh for Doherty (71 mins), Jonny Bonner for Tiofack (88 mins).
Booked: Tommy Bonnar (54), Ruairi Keating (73), Jonny Bonner (90)
Galway FC: Conor Gleeson; Colm Horgan, Martin Conneely, Cian Fadden, Marc Ludon; Jason Molloy, Ryan Connolly, Paul Sinnott, Derek O’Brien; Stephen Walsh, Vinny Faherty.
Subs: Marty Owens for Molloy (76 mins), Jake Keegan for Faherty (79 mins).
Sent off: Derek O’Brien (26).
Referee: John McLaughlin (Athlone)