Date: 7:45 p.m. March 13, 2017
Venue: Richmond Park
Att: 895

Graham Kelly 3' -
Scored: 3'

Scored: 19'
- Sean Houston 19'

Scored: 44'
- Ciaran O'Connor 44'

League Report: St Patrick's Athletic 1 - 2 Finn Harps

Mon, Mar 13 2017

Sean Houston was on target in the Harps win. Credit: Laszlo Geczo

St. Patrick’s Athletic suffered their third defeat from four games on Monday night, falling 2-1 to an excellent Finn Harps who turned a goal deficit into an indisputable win with first-half goals from Sean Houston and Ciaran O’Connor.


Both sides went into the game vying for their first win of the season. Harps manager Ollie Horgan was open about his side’s chances of facing relegation this season, with his opposite number Liam Buckley less open to the possibility.


The Saints boss will now have to face up to the reality however, as his side now sit joint-bottom of the Premier Division with one point from a possible twelve, with Saturday’s trip north to Dundalk not promising to yield easy points.


The night began more than promisingly for St. Pats and indeed Buckley as he could not have hoped for a better start, as the Saints took the lead after just three minutes. A horrendous mistake by Harps defender Jonny Bonner yielded possession to Graham Kelly who made his punishment swift and decisive.


Kelly intervened from Bonner’s loose touch on the edge of his own box, rode the defender’s vague attempt at a tackle and slotted a cool finish beneath goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher for 1-0.


Harps did not recede into their shell following the setback and it took Horgan’s side just over 15 minutes to hit back. A cross into the home penalty area was poorly cleared and headed straight towards an unmarked Sean Houston just inside the box.


The midfielder composed himself before planting an excellent low drive into the bottom corner of Barry Murphy’s net to level proceedings at 1-1. St. Pats looked vulnerable from this point on, having had their lead gifted without having to work towards it.


That openness was exposed again by Harps when they took the lead, however the manner of their second goal was akin to the night’s first through a lapse in defence.


Defender Michael Barker endured a difficult night overall, which was topped off when his attempt at a clever back-heeled pass to goalkeeper Murphy proved disastrous.


The 23-year-old had not anticipated the pressure of Harps forward Caolan McAleer who firstly stole possession before side-footing his pass to cancel out Barry Murphy, leaving Ciaran O’Connor an open net to slot into, the score now reading 2-1 to the visitors.


Facing into a third defeat from four in a season where three sides face automatic relegation, Buckley’s side began the second half promisingly, with Graham Kelly dancing between varying challenges straight from the tip-off leading him to a one v one chance with goalkeeper Gallagher.


Looking destined to level proceedings and settle his second goal of the night, Kelly splurged his chance and crashed his shot well wide of the post as the score remained 2-1 to the Ballybofey club.


Pats increased their intensity in search of a leveller. Their Friday night fightback against Sligo Rovers was going to have to be repeated if a second point of the season was to be secured.


Billy Dennehy planted a fine cross over the Harps box but Conan Byrne could only direct his chance square into the hands of goalkeeper Gallagher.


Space was now opening up in the game as St. Pats searched for an equalizer while Horgan cajoled his players to grab a third and make all three points their own, making fully worthwhile their four hour journey from Ballybofey earlier in the day.


Though St. Pats’ Graham Kelly had performed above and beyond in this game, he made way for more attacking outlets as both Kurtis Byrne and Christy Fagan were introduced to turn the game Buckley’s way with the minutes ticking on.


Fagan proved his worth immediately and almost steered a header into the bottom corner of the Harps net from Conan Byrne’s cross.


The game wore on, however, with only the introduction of Paddy McCourt and the booking of Ian Bermingham changing in what seemed a finalized result with ten minutes remaining.


St. Pats attacked but never looked like getting the final nail in the Harps coffin despite Fagan and Byrne’s presence up front.


Finn Harps conceded 49 goals last season and while this may seem a high figure compared to the resolute defences of Dundalk (28) and Cork City (23), in comparison with fellow relegation candidates Longford Town (71) and Wexford Youths (70), it demonstrated their doggedness playing against bigger sides at the bottom of the table.


Ollie Horgan showcased again in this game how he has brought his side, and kept them, in the Premier Division winning games such as these. Games which were there to be won through maintaining a solidified defence worthy of its cliched namesake.


Despite going behind after just three minutes and some nervous moments into stoppage time, this was again the case against a scrambling St. Patrick’s Athletic. As the clock ticked down it was Harps who looked more assured of their victory than St. Pats were in their defeat.



St. Patrick’s Athletic: Barry Murphy; Michael Barker, Gavin Peers, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Patrick Cregg, Graham Kelly (Kurtis Byrne 60), Jonathan Lunney; Conan Byrne, Billy Dennehy (Alex O’Hanlon 80); John O’Hanlon (Christy Fagan 68).

Subs not used: Conor O’Malley (gk), Rory Feely, Darragh Markey, Sam Verdon.

Yellow cards: Ian Bermingham (76)


Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Ciaran Coll, Killian Cantwell, Damien McNulty, Gareth Harkin; Ethan Boyle, Sean Houston, Jonny Bonner (Paddy McCourt 77), Caolan McAleer (Packie Mailey 93), Danny Morrissey (Michael Funston, 83), Ciaran O’Connor.

Subs not used: Harry Doherty, Tommy McMonagle, Eddie Dsane, Simon McGlynn.

Yellow Cards: Sean Houston (15), Ethan Boyle (53), Ciaran O’Connor (85), Paddy McCourt (95).


Referee: Ben Connolly

Attendance: 895 Man of the Match: Sean Houston (Finn Harps)



St. Patrick's Athletic
Barry Murphy
Michael Barker
Ian Bermingham
76Booked: 76'
Lee Desmond
Gavin Peers
Conan Byrne
Patrick Cregg
Billy Dennehy
80Subbed Off: 80'
Graham Kelly
3Scored: 3'
62Subbed Off: 62'
JJ Lunney
Josh O'Hanlon
68Subbed Off: 68'

Kurtis Byrne
62Subbed On: 62'
Christy Fagan
68Subbed On: 68'
Rory Feely
Darragh Markey
Alex O'Hanlon
80Subbed On: 80'
Conor O'Malley
Sam Verdon
Finn Harps
Ciaran Gallagher
Ciaran Coll
Kilian Cantwell
Ethan Boyle
53Booked: 53'
Damien McNulty
Jonny Bonner
Midfielder 77'
77Subbed Off: 77'
Gareth Harkin
Sean Houston
15Booked: 15'
19Scored: 19'
Caolan McAleer
Midfielder 90'
90Subbed Off: 90'
Danny Morrissey
Forward 83'
83Subbed Off: 83'
Ciaran O'Connor
44Scored: 44'
85Booked: 85'

Michael Funston
83Subbed On: 83'
Eddie Dsane
Harry Doherty
Packie Mailey
90Subbed On: 90'
Paddy McCourt
77Subbed On: 77'
90Booked: 90'
Simon McGlynn
Thomas McMonagle

Photo Gallery for St. Patrick's Athletic -v- Finn Harps