Drogheda United snatched a late equaliser to earn a replay after an absorbing clash against 10-man First Division Finn Harps at Finn Park last night. Drogheda were heading for a cup exit when Mick Daly pounced.
Harps boss Peter Hutton's father won an FAI Cup winners medal when the Donegal club lifted the trophy for the one and only time in 1974.
Harps started positively with Michael Funston and Damien McNulty going close early on. Drogheda then enjoyed a decent spell with Ryan and Gavin Brennan to the fore as they looked increasingly threatening in front of goal.
Ciarán Gallagher made a super reflex save to divert a thundering Brennan free but at the other end Harps then pounced in the 23rd minute when captain Kevin McHugh left fly with a cracking 25-yard striker into the top corner of the net.
Boosted by the goal, Harps could have doubled their tally and Drogheda had to thank Michael Slingermann who made stops to deny Ciarán Coll and Pat McCann, who also blazed over from a good position.
In an increasingly competitive clash, Coll was sent off on 55 minutes after an off-the-ball incident with David Cassidy. Tempers started to fray all over the pitch – and also on the benches with Hutton banished to the stands.
Drogheda efforts were rewarded in the 85th minute when Cassidy crossed for the unmarked Mick Daly who side-footed the ball home.
Cancer victim Gary O’Neill was on the minds of Drogheda players as the team warmed up with T-shirts for the striker that read “United with Gary”.
Drogheda face a busy week. They are in the EA Sports Cup final against Shamrock Rovers next Saturday, while the replay is on Monday.