FAI Cup R3
Date: 8 p.m. June 4, 2010
Venue: Finn Park
With the Leinster Senior League as well as back-to-back FAI Intermediate Cups in their trophy cabinet at Pearse Park, the Dubliners came to the north-west with some backing in the bookmakers. After their victory last season at Shelbourne in the same round of the competition and after taking Waterford United to a replay, there were reasons for the slightest of trepidation.
Harps, though, went about their business in the most apt way possible and crushed the visitors’ dreams before they even had a chance to concoct any flirtatious notions. Three goals in the opening 19 minutes, courtesy of Packie Mailey’s opener and a brace from Kevin McHugh, saw to that.
Since James Gallagher opted to make an unexpected return to the playing staff, there has been a calmness about Harps from a defensive perspective. He has yet to concede a goal in 360 minutes since coming back. And although there are sterner tests compared to Longford Town, Salthill Devon, Monaghan United and Crumlin on the horizon, there’s still no need to wash the sheets and Gallagher can be content with that before Tuesday’s trip to Limerick.
Right from the first whistle Harps went about their business, keeping the ball on the turf and moving it to use to width of the pitch as much as possible. As early as the eighth minute, they were in front, when Mailey steered home at the back post after Marc Brolly had got the slightest of flicks onto Mark Forker’s free.
Within 60 seconds, the lead could have, and perhaps should have been doubled when Oisin McMenamin found himself unmarked in front of a yawning goal from James Doherty’s whipped centre, only to go for placement over power and see the ball come back of the base of the post.
Chances, though, continued to come off the production line and a second soon arrived as the clock ticked toward the quarter-hour. Stephen McLaughlin tip-toed in from the right with no challenge immediately forthcoming, so decided on a pop from the edge of the area. Although Karl Coleman in the Crumlin goal got behind the shot, he could only parry the ball into the path of McHugh who was never going to miss.
McHugh added his second and his side’s third four minutes later, this time with a crisp strike from 20 yards. Matthew Crossan’s switch unlocked the Crumlin defence and although Brolly’s pullback was slightly behind McMenamin, the Newtowncunningham native adjusted his feet to enable himself to roll the ball onto McHugh, whose first time shot soared high past Coleman.
Gallagher, from his base behind the back four, would’ve seen a couple of things that might’ve slightly agitated him. Gerry Bambrick was allowed to break a creaking offside trap, but could do little with his shot. In the second half, both Bambrick and strike partner Dean Kelly won headers in the box, although both were looped over the crossbar.
Harps did the sensible thing after the break and kept the ball moving as their intermediate opponents tired. Brolly wasted a couple of chances when he first of all blazed over when his pace got him away and then from a similar instance, took the shot on himself, hitting the side-netting, when he might’ve squared for the supporting McHugh. McMenamin also went close but his shot from an uncompromising angle was comfortably gathered by Coleman.
Substitute Davitt Walsh, who replaced McHugh with the Shannonside trip in mind, and McLaughlin also tested the Crumlin goalkeeper. At the other end Kelly saw a couple of efforts go wide, one of which brought particular frustration to Gallagher who claimed one of the moves developed following a handball and the Harps player-manager was booked for his protestations on an otherwise trouble-free evening.
Finn Harps: James Gallagher; James Doherty, Packie Mailey, Matthew Crossan, Gary Whoriskey; Stephen McLaughlin, Thomas Bonner, Mark Forker, Marc Brolly; Kevin McHugh (Davitt Walsh 70), Oisin McMenamin.
Crumlin United: Karl Coleman; Derek Griffin, Paul McCabe, Gavin Kavanagh, Carl Redmond; James Lee, Daniel Loughnan, Ciaran Reilly, Martin Cramer; Gerry Bambrick (Carl Forsyth 65), Dean Kelly.
Referee: J Grimes.