Finn Harps 1 Wexford Youths 1
By Chris McNulty at Finn Park
RUAIRI Keating rescued a point for battling Finn Harps as his late penalty earned a draw with Wexford Youths at Finn Park on Friday night.
Trailing to Killian Cantwell’s 65th minute opener, Harps were given a golden opportunity five minutes from the end when Keating went down under the challenger of Wexford goalkeeper Graham Doyle. Keating dusted himself down to turn past Doyle from the spot with his third goal of the season on a night of drama in Ballybofey.
Harps played the entire second half with ten men following the controversial dismissal of Keith Cowan in the 43rd minute after an incident involving Danny Furlong.
Having being fouled by Cowan just in front of the Harps dugout, Furlong reacted and the players both had hands raised, with Furlong going to the deck. It seemed a theatric reaction from the Wexford man.
Having consulted with Darren Corcoran, the linesman on the stand side, referee Ben Connolly brandished red for Cowan and a yellow to Wexford’s Aidan Keenan, who’d got himself embroiled in the handbags which followed.
But the dismissal of Cowan provoked an irate response from the players and from Harps manager Ollie Horgan, who made no secret of his feelings to the official as they headed for the dressing rooms at half-time.
Cowan was at at the centre of the action in the first half having also had a ‘goal’ ruled out in the 33rd minute.
Damien McNulty did well to head a Jonny Bonner corner back across goal where Cowan forced home, only to be stunned when his strike was scratched off having been adjudged to have fouled Cantwell in the process of scoring.
If the reaction there was fury, it paled into insignificance with that which greeted the red card flashed the defender’s way two minutes before the break.
Harps had opened brightly with Ruairi Keating prising possession from ‘keeper Graham Doyle only to shoot over. Keating then connected delicately to a Michael Funston free-kick but again he was just off-target.
Keating was restored to the team, having served a ban for last week’s 2-0 defeat to Shelbourne, with Bonner also included from the off as the suspended Josh Mailey and the demoted Carel Tiofack made way.
The lively Keating tried his luck after combining with Bonner, but was over on the hour mark, while Furlong drilled wide with what was his team’s first shot on goal soon after.
Wexford were ahead when Cantwell connected with a Dean Broaders free-kick and magnificently steered his header beyond Conor Winn from 15 yards. It was a superbly-placed header from the Wexford man, although Horgan will surely be wondering how he’d been allowed the freedom to do so.
It looked as if it would be enough to seal the deal, but Harps – who gave a debut to defender Caoimhin Bonner for the last sixteen minutes – pressed for the leveller with Sean McCarron, wearing a facemask to protect a broken cheekbone, thrown into the fray.
There was an anxious moment when Shane Dunne lobbed over Winn, but Bonner averted the danger and then Packie Mailey blocked from sub Danny Fitzpatrick.
Harps managed to claw their way back through Keating’s penalty, which keeps Harps third in the standings with back-to-back away trips to Longford Town and Waterford United in the next two weeks.
Finn Harps: Conor Winn; Damien McNulty, Packie Mailey, Keith Cowan; James Doherty, Michael Funston, Pat McCann, Thomas Bonnar, Ciaran Coll; Jonny Bonner; Ruairi Keating.
Subs: Caoimhin Bonner for Bonnar (74 mins), Sean McCarron for J.Bonner (74 mins).
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Peter Higgins, Killian Cantwell, Stephen Last, Ryan Delaney; Dean Broaders, Shane Dunne, Shane Nolan, Eric Molloy; Danny Furlong, Aidan Keenan.
Sub: Danny Fitzpatrick for Furlong (63 mins)
Referee: Ben Connolly (Dublin).