Airtricity League wrap: Boyle heroics hands Finn Harps dramatic last-gasp point

Dundalk lose ground in title race after Shelbourne stalemate; Patching on target as Derry see off students

Finn Harps  2 St. Patrick’s Athletic   2

Ethan Boyle headed in a 96th minute equaliser as never-say-die Finn Harps came from 2-0 down late on to grab a sensational draw against a St Patrick’s Athletic side that appeared to have had the game sewn up.

Two goals from Billy King - including a stunner just past the hour mark - had put Pat’s on the road to victory,

But substitute Jose Carrillo pulled one back for Harps in the 87th minute and incredibly Boyle was the hero as he got a second for Ollie Horgan’s men to give them a share of the spoils.

Gavin Mulreany was given the nod to play in goals for Harps in preference to regular choice Mark Anthony McGinley, and made only his second appearance for the Donegal club.

And he was in action within two minutes to produce a decent save to thwart Darragh Burns.

From the resulting corner Sam Curtis rose to head just over the target.

But Pat’s were ahead on six minutes when Mark Doyle capitalised on a slip by Ethan Boyle and advanced down the left before playing the ball into the path of the in-rushing King who deftly tucked it past Mulreany from close range.

Tim Clancy’s side doubled their tally in the 63rd minute as King skipped past a number of players before letting fly with a cracking shot from outside the box that flew past Mulreany into the corner of the net.

But Harps showed their battling qualities with the two late goals to snatch a point.

The gutted Saints now have to lift things for Monday’s clash with leaders Shamrock Rovers in Inchicore.

Finn Harps: Mulreany; Boyle, Tourish, Slevin, Donelan; N’Zeyi (Carrillo, 71 mins); Rainey, Duncan (Timlin, 62 mins), McNamee (Mahdy, 90+1 mins); Mihaljevic (Rudden, 71 mins); McWoods.

St Patrick’s Athletic: Anang; S. Curtis (Abankwah, 81 mins), Redmond, Grivosti; Breslin; O’Reilly, King, Forrester (McClelland, 81 mins); Burns (McCormack, 81 mins), M. Doyle; E Doyle.(Robinson, 81 mins).

Referee: J. McLaughlin (Kildare)

Shelbourne 0 Dundalk 0

Dundalk lost ground on champions Shamrock Rovers at the summit of the Airtricity League Premier Division table after playing out a scoreless draw with Shelbourne at Tolka Park on Friday night.

Five points adrift with a game in hand coming into this tie, the Lilywhites’ failure to break down a stubborn Shels side - coupled with the Hoops’ slender triumph over Bohemians in Tallaght - puts a dent in their title aspirations.

Although scoring opportunities were few and far between for the majority of the opening period, Shels had cause to breathe a massive sigh of relief just past the half-hour mark. Robbie Benson looked set to grab his second goal in as many games when a delicate flick by Daniel Kelly put him clean through on the target, but the Westmeath native’s shot was the wrong side of the left-hand post.

While the deadlock remained unbroken at the interval, Dundalk had another glorious chance to take the lead six minutes into the second half. David McMillan stretched to meet a superb delivery on the right-flank by marauding full-back Lewis Macari, only to see his strike drifting agonisingly wide of the mark.

Shels had their own moments of promise in attack, however, and Dundalk netminder Nathan Shepperd was called into action to deny Sean Boyd and Shane Farrell inside the final-quarter of an increasingly tense affair.

There was no shortage of intent in a frantic finale, but both sides ultimately had to settle for a share of the spoils in the end.

Shelbourne: Clarke; O’Driscoll, Byrne, Griffin; Farrell, Lunney, McManus (Ledwidge, 82 mins), Kane; Hakiki (Wilson, 73 mins); Boyd, Moylan (Dervin, 77 mins).

Dundalk: Shepperd; Macari, Connolly, Boyle, Leahy; Sloggett, Benson, Doyle (Ward, 67 mins); Bradley, McMillan (Martin, 59 mins), Kelly (O’Kane, 82 mins).

Referee: R Hennessy (Dublin).

Drogheda United 0-0 Sligo Rovers

There were no goals and precious little incident as Drogheda United held Sligo Rovers scoreless at Head In The Game Park to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

Sligo, for their part, are now unbeaten in four games under their new rookie boss John Russell. Neither team did enough to warrant three points on the banks of the river Boyne.

The away team had won the previous three meetings of the sides so Drogheda at least put an end to that unwanted sequence. They are also now one point further clear of the bottom two, edging away week-by-week from the teams directly below them.

Aidan Keena was central to both Sligo’s opportunities in the first half. They were barely half chances, in truth. He pickpocketed Dane Massey in the area and with the goal gaping, his ball across the six-yard box was cleared.

Keena then latched onto a direct ball forward from goalkeeper Ed McGinty but couldn’t direct his effort on target. Max Mata’s wayward header was all they mustered in a second in which Drogheda improved. Will Fitzgerald failed to test Colin McCabe when clean through shortly after the restart.

Chris Lyons, Adam Foley and Darragh Markey were all introduced and the latter two combined for their best opportunity. The impressive Markey played in Foley but under pressure from Paddy Kirk, he side footed wide. Massey’s late header was straight at McGinty too as the hosts finished stronger, but a winner eluded them.

Drogheda United: McCabe; Heeney, Quinn, Weir, Massey; Clarke (Foley, 66 mins), Deegan; Nugent, Brennan, Rooney (Markey, 72 mins); Williams (Lyons, 74 mins).

Sligo Rovers: McGinty; Horgan, Banks, Blaney, Kirk; Morahan (Cawley, 65 mins), McDonnell; O’Sullivan (Heaney, 71 mins), Keena, Fitzgerald; Mata.

Referee: Neil Doyle

UCD  0  Derry City  1

Will Patching scored against UCD for the third match running as Derry City ended their slump with a first win in eight at the UCD Bowl.

The narrow victory edges Derry to within a point of second placed Dundalk.

UCD’s long season continues as they remain three points adrift at the foot of the table.

While Derry enjoyed the better possession throughout the first half it was UCD who posed a real threat on the counterattack.

Derry’s Brian Maher was the first goalkeeper to see action on eight minutes, getting down well to hold a crisp drive from Dylan Duffy.

Maher was worked again by Mark Dignam before College should have taken the lead on 33 minutes, Sean Brennan ballooning over from Duffy’s pull back.

A minute earlier Derry left-back Ciaran Coll had headed powerfully wide from Will Patching’s corner to register Derry’s first real chance.

UCD keeper Kian Moore then produced a stunning tip over save to deprive Jamie McGonigle, whose curling shot looked destined for the top corner, four minutes before the break.

Derry continued to dominate the ball into the second half, Dara Keane making a superb block to deprive Joe Thompson before they took the lead on 53 minutes from a penalty when Michael Gallagher tripped on McGonigle.

Patching staggered his run up to nonchalantly side foot the ball to the bottom corner of Moore’s net for his ninth goal of the season.

UCD: Moore; Gallagher (Ryan, 66 mins), Keaney, Todd, Osam; Brennan (Nolan, 66 mins), Keane; Dignam (Verdon, 66 mins), Caffrey, Higgins (Lonergan 57 mins); Duffy (Norris, 84 mins).

Derry City: Maher; Porter, S. McEleney, McJannet, Coll; Thomson, P. McEleney; Kavanagh (Lafferty, 89 mins), Patching, Smith (E. McLaughlin, 90+4 mins); McGonigle (Akintunde 73 mins).

Referee: Ray Matthews (Midlands).