Late Finn Harps goals send them one step closer to promotion
UCD took the lead in Ballybofey but two late Harps goals sent the Donegal team through
Finn Harps will take on Limerick in the promotion/relegation playoff. Photo: Inpho
Finn Harps 2 UCD 1 (Finn Harps win 3-1 on aggregate)
Finn Harps are now two steps away from a possible return to the Premier Division of Irish soccer following their win over UCD in the First Division play-off.
On a fine autumnal evening before the biggest crowd of the season at Finn Park – almost 3,000 – Harps had the better of a first half that started slowly but then grew into life.
They went within a whisker of taking the lead on 44 minutes when following the best move of the half, Tony McNamee curled a shot just over the crossbar.
UCD’s best chance before the break fell to Mark Langtry with a speculative long range effort.
But the visitors gave Harps a real scare at the start of the second half when a curling Gary O’Neill free deceived everyone and flashed past the upright.
Ryan Swan was then denied by a great save from Ciaran Gallagher while Conor Cannon then shot wide as the students enjoyed their best spell.
On 59 minutes Jamie Doyle outfoxed the home defence to head home a cross and give the Dublin side the lead.
And on 76 minutes Nathan Boyle surged into the box and slipped the ball past the advancing Conor O’Donnell to make it 1-1.
But Josh Mailey, in space, then scored the winner on 82 minutes with a beautifully measured shot from the edge of the box that flew past O’Donnell and into the top corner.
The Donegal club will now play Limerick over two legs next week to decide who will be in the Premier Division next season.
Finn Harps: Gallagher; McNulty, P. Mailey, Cowan, Coll; J. Mailey, Foy, McNamee, Harkin; McHugh, Boyle. Subs: Tagbo for Boyle (82 mins), Funston for Mailey (82 mins), Crossan for McHugh (86 mins).
UCD: O’Donnell; Tobin, Boyle, Leahy, Langtry; Swan, Benson, O’Neill, Doyle; O’Connor, Cannon. Subs: Kirwan for Doyle (61 mins), Coyne for Cannon (71 mins).
Referee: R. Matthews (Dublin).