Harps secure safety with stirring fightback at home to Drogheda

Fri, Nov 01 2019

With additional reporting from Oisin Langan at Finn Park

Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps have secured their Premier Division survival thanks to a heroic fightback win over Drogheda United at Finn Park this evening.

Trailing by a solitary goal heading into the second leg, Harps levelled the tie after just seven minutes through Mark Russell.

Russell turned home a Ruairi Harkin delivery from the right to give the 2,113 crowd hope – after a fast start from the hosts.

A scrappy game ensued, with little to nothing between the sides as extra-time was the only way either side could be separated.

And it was Ollie Horgan’s side who came up trumps, with Australian Harry Ashcroft bundling home their second of the night.

Ashcroft got on the end of Tony McNamee’s corner-kick – to head home in front of a whole host of bodies as the Boynesiders were forced to take the game to the Premier Division side in the closing stages of the game.

However, it was not to be for Tim Clancy’s side – who must now prepare for their third year in the First Division on the spin.

Harps on the other hand have become just the first side since Bray Wanderers in 2013 to retain their top-flight position in the playoff.

Speaking after the game with Oisin Langan, Horgan admits he was proud of his side’s performance this evening.

“I don’t get carried away either way. I don’t show my emotions too much. I have a lot of pride tonight, without doubt.

“The way we have come to stay in this division certainly outweighs the achievement of promotion the few times we’ve done it.

“We knew how difficult it is to come through. The stats have shown that the Premier Division side hasn’t survived in seven/eight years until tonight.  

“Huge credit to Drogheda. I don’t know what more they could have done. They’re young, they’re eager and I think that will stand to them.

“I know that’s not going to go well with them tonight, but the chances are that if we don’t go straight down next year, we’ll play them if they go up.

“To be fair to them, Tim and Kevin, the respect and modesty they showed to us at the full-time whistle is a credit to them and it doesn’t go unnoticed.

“They were the first to congratulate us and that means a lot. While we do feel sorry for them – that’s not me trying to push my emotions away – had they won it I would’ve been the first person in their dressing room congratulating them.”

You can look at Clare McCahill's photo gallery from the game here