Sean Maguire proves the difference at stormy Finn Park
The Cork striker bagged the only goal of the game as John Caulfield’s side were put to the test
Cork City’s Sean Maguire scored the onoly goal of the game as they beat Finn Harps in Donegal. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Finn Harps 0 Cork City 1
John Caulfield celebrated his 100th game in charge of Cork City as he watched his side begin their league opener by battling against the elements to bag the points against a plucky Finn Harps side at Finn Park.
Sean Maguire’s 44th minute strike proved to be the winner in a highly entertaining and well-contested encounter.
City had to play the final 20 minutes with ten men after Gerry Buckley got a second yellow card for a rash challenge on Ciaran O’Connor, and at times they were clinging on in a rip-roaring finish.
Harps’ big name signing, the former Northern Ireland international Paddy McCourt, only started on the bench for the home side, but came on for the final quarter.
The on-set of more rain during the warm-up fuelled concerns that an energy-sapping wintry battle of Ballybofey was on the cards.
However, the opening quarter was surprisingly open with Cork looking the more polished outfit while Harps looked lively on the counter-attack. It was more like a cup-tie.
Maguire was buzzing around the Harps’ penalty area and the threat was there for all to see.
At the other end a Johnny Bonnar free flashed across Mark McNulty’s goal on the half hour.
But Maguire then pounced on a defensive mix-up to steer the ball home past Ciaran Gallagher from inside a crowded box to give City the lead in the 44th minute.
City began the second half positively and Harps survived a real scare as the ball came off the post following a goalmouth scramble.
However, Caolan McAleer reminded City that they could ill-afford to slacken off as he drove a low, hard shot that was capably dealt with by Mark McNulty on 56 minutes.
The dismissal of Buckley added to the drama in a charged final period as Harps pressed hard for an equaliser.
Twice Maguire hit the post in the space of 15 seconds late on and although Harps kept pushing forward City held on.
Finn Harps: Gallagher; Boyle, Cantwell, McNulty, Coll; McAleer, Molloy, Bonner, Houston; Morrissey, O’Connor. Subs: McCourt for Houston (68 mins), Harkin for Molloy and Dsane for Morrissey (both 77 mins).
Subs not used: Mailey, Funston, McMonagle, Doherty.
Cork City: McNulty; McCormack, Dunleavy, Delaney, O’Connor; Keohane, Morrissey, Bolger, Buckley, Dooley; Maguire. Subs: Sheppard for Bolger (68), Bennett for Dooley (89)
Subs not used: Campion, Beattie, Ellis, Grffin, Smith.
Referee: R. Harvey (Dublin).