Finn Harps 2-1 Derry City
Dave Scully and Ryan Curran goals saw Finn Harps secure a 2-1 win over Derry City on their return to the Premier Division.
After their 2-1 relegation/promotion play-off defeat of Limerick last season, the drama continued for Harps as they cruised past their rivals in the league opener.
If a tough season beckoned for Harps, it looked so early on as Jordan Allan went close inside a minute. It was quickly followed up by a chance from Gareth McGlynn whose effort was blocked by Damien McNulty.
Harps’ first chance fell to Ryan Curran who was denied by Gerard Doherty in the Derry goal before Tony McNamee replaced Sean Houston for the home side.
In a local derby there was bound to be cards and Keith Cowan picked up the first for a challenge on Barry McNamee 20 minutes in. His brother, Tony McNamee created the home side’s their first chance, but Packie Mailey saw his shot deflected behind by Ryan McBride.
The game turned within minutes of the half-time whistle. First a Ryan McBride header was cleared off the line by Ciaran Coll and Jordan Allan failed to hit the target with a follow-up header.
Then the breakthrough happened down the other end as Scully was fouled down the left flank by Niclas Vemmelund. Harps’ Adam Hanlon whipped in the resulting free-kick and Scully glanced a header down, past Doherty in the Derry goal for a 1-0 half-time lead.
The second-half was slow to get going with Damien McNulty & Allan both seeing yellow. Derry made two substitutes with Nathan Boyle and Ronan Curtis brought on to inject life into the City side, but it was the home side who doubled their lead. With 15 minutes remaining, Ryan Curran caught the Derry offside trap out and calmly slotted Keith Cowan’s header into the net.
Curran almost made it 3-0 with five minutes left but Doherty got down to save, while goal-scorer Scully picked up a yellow card. In injury time Rory Patterson latched onto substitute Nathan Boyle’s pass to stab the ball past Ciaran Gallagher. A last ditch effort went over Gallagher’s crossbar, as Harps claimed a historic victory and start their Premier Division return with an emphatic win over their rivals.
Ciaron Gallagher, Damien McNulty, Ciaron Coll, Keith Cowan, Packie Mailey, Gareth Harkin, Ryan Curran, Sean Houston (Tony McNamee on 20), Adam Hanlon (Kevin McHugh 89), David Scully, Barry Molly (Raymond Foy 78).
Gerard Doherty, Niclas Vemmelund, Aaron McEneff, Ryan McBride, Dean Jarvis, Conor McCormack (Harry Monaghan 76), Barry McNamee, Jordan Allan (Nathan Boyle 60), Rory Patterson, Gareth McGlynn (Ronan Curtis 70), Aaron Barry.
Sports News Ireland MOTM: Ryan Curran