FINN Harps got their season off to the perfect start this evening as goals either side of half-time by Conor Gethins and Shaun Williams earned the Donegal side victory over Cobh Ramblers.
Gethins netted on 31 and Williams added a second on 47 to give Harps a 2-0 cushion that set them on their way to a victory that could prove pivotal in the months that remain in season 2008. While Kelvin Murray ensured that the game hung in the balance to the finish, the home team had done enough to secure three points against their fellow newly promoted side.
On a night that was far from conducive to playing an attractive brand of football, with the Finn Park turf suffering the effects of the heavy rainfall in the North West, the heavy nature of it making the going tough for the participants, the entertainment levels were a long way off what had been hoped for.
The first half was one of few noteworthy incidents, although Harps threatened early on with Stephen Parkhouse heading over the bar before Cobh's Graham Cummins was thwarted by a timely challenge by Shaun McGowan.
Harps broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark when Conor Gethins was on hand to apply a neat finish under James McCarthy, capping off a fine move that culminated with Parkhouse smartly touching down Chris Breen's cross to his strike partner.
As half-time approached, Cobh had the ball in the net, but the flag of the assistant referee stopped the celebrations of Kieran O'Reilly before they had a chance to begin. Two minutes into the second period, Harps doubled their advantage when new signing Shaun Williams slid in for his first goal in the blue and white after Parkhouse was denied by McCarthy as he connected with Gethins' cross.
Cobh pulled one back on 64 minutes when defender Kelvin Murray punished the static Harps defence to the maximum as he turned home from Gareth Cambridge's curling free-kick.
A nervous conclusion was in store for the large home attendance who braved the wintery elements and hearts were in the mouths four minutes from time when Alan Kearney got on the end of an inch-perfect cross from the right flank. The substitute, however, flashed his header wide of the target and while four minutes of injury time were added, the three points remained in Ballybofey,/
Finn Harps: James Gallagher; Sean Roddy (Declan Boyle 79), Aaron Labonte, Stuart Malcolm, Shaun Holmes; Chris Breen (Michael Funston 70), Shaun McGowan, Tony Shields, Shaun Williams; Conor Gethins (Marc Brolly 87), Stephen Parkhouse.
Cobh Ramblers: James McCarthy; Alan Carey, Kelvin Murray, Shane Guthrie, John Meade; John Kearney (Alan Kearney 65), Michael Mulcrony (Ray Lally 65), Shane Barrett (Ken Coleman 75), Graham Cummins, Gareth Cambridge; Kieran O'Reilly.
Referee: Declan Hanney (Dublin).