Eric Foley 32' -
There was some controversy before kick-off as Finn Harps only brought eleven jerseys with them, resulting in the away side having to kit out in Shelbourne’s navy third jersey.
Shelbourne began well and enjoyed most of the chances and possession in the first fifteen minutes. After only three minutes a probing David Cassidy run produced a cross which was almost turned into the Finn Harps’ net by Mark Leech.
Marc Hughes then glided past two defenders and Finn Harps goalkeeper Liam Mailey but the shot dribbled wide from a very tight angle. Harps didn’t have any real chances on goal until the 17th minute, when forward Stephen McLauchlin’s header fell wide after a corner.
McLauchlin was, for the most part, the main point in the Finn Harps
attack. Five minutes after his first chance, he had another half-
A Shels corner was cleared and as Dean Delaney rushed to claim the ball, McLauchlin headed it just past the Shels ‘keeper. McLauchlin was unluckly to see the ball cleared by Michael Coburn before he could shoot on the open goal.
The home side employed long balls in their search for an opening goal, but the Finn Harps’ defence were aerially dominant. Only when the ball was played on the ground did Shels genuinely threaten.
Stephen McLauchlin had another glorious chance for Harps as he failed to score from a free header in the Shels penalty area after Packie Mailey drafted in a free-kick. Minutes later, Shels scored on the counter-attack. Dean Delaney saved well after a Finn Harps corner was nearly put into the net by team mate Michael Coburn.
Delaney then kicked long up the pitch where Eric Foley was able to catch Liam Mailey off his line and lob the Finn Harps ‘keeper to score Shels’ first and only goal on 32 minutes.
After the half time break, Shels came out looking to kill off Finn Harps, who had numerous chances to grab the lead in the first half. Mark Leech almost replicated Foley’s goal on 53 minutes, but the striker’s lob over Packie Mailey fell just wide of the Finn Harps goal.
Stephen McLauchlin was again the man at the fulcrum of the Harps attack in the second half and did well to find space to shoot on 57 minutes, only to see his shot comfortably gathered by Dean Delaney.
David Cassidy went close to scoring a second for Shels on 72 minutes, but the final 15 minutes saw Finn Harps desperately seek an equaliser.
That equaliser almost came when substitute David Walsh headed the ball against the bar on 82 minutes following an in-swinging free-kick from Kevin McHugh.
In the five minutes that followed that Walsh chance, Stephen McLauchlin had two more chances to get Harps a point. Tommy Bonner put in a low cross on 85 minutes which McLauchlin couldn’t finish and three minutes later the striker again went close with a deflected shot from just outside the box. Despite McLauchlin testing the Shels defence and Harps pressing hard in the latter stages of the match, Shels held out to get the three points.
Harps will probably feel aggrieved that they didn’t get anything from the match, while Shelbourne may wonder how they didn’t finish the match off.
Shelbourne: Dean Delaney, Ray Scully, Stephen Quigley, Michael Coburn, Gareth Whelan, Paul Shiels, David McGill (Colin O’Brien ’77), David Cassidy (Ian Ryan ’85), Mark Leech (Philip Gorman ’54), Marc Hughes, Eric Foley.
Subs Not Used: Steve Williams, Dinny Corcoran
Finn Harps: Liam Mailey, James Doherty, Matt Crossan, Johnathan Minnick (Gary Whoriskey HT), Packie Mailey, Michael Funston, Stephen McLauchlin, Mark Forker, Tommy Bonner, Kevin McHugh, Marc Brolly (David Walsh ’77)
Subs Not Used: Jason Noctor, Fintan Bonner, Oisin McMenamin
Referee: Mike Jones (Wales)
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Dean Delaney