Finn Harps 1 – 1 Limerick FC

Airtricity League First Division 

Limerick Scorer: Shane Clarke (31)

Friday 10th September 2010

A share of the spoils in an entertaining encounter at Finn Park between Finn Harps and Limerick FC where both teams might’ve felt they were deserving of the points but a draw was perhaps the fairest outcome.

Harps opened the scoring inside of four minutes through a header from Tommy Bonner, only for the visitors to even up affairs when Shane Clarke rounded off a flowing move on 30 minutes. There were chances at both ends for anyone to declare a winner, but in the end James Gallagher and Pat Scully presumably both went in their separate directions reasonably content.

Scully’s side knew that a combination of results might’ve seen them creep into second place in the table but while a few latecomers were straddling through the gates, the hosts were in front.

Mark Forker’s forth minute cross from underneath the shadow of the stand didn’t appear to carry significant threat, but while the Limerick defence stood and watched, Bonner broke from central midfield and having stooped, his tender glance left Dave Ryan cemented to the spot on the goal line as the flight of the ball barely deviated.

Seven minutes later, John Tierney, who so often has tormented Harps, was strong in possession and slid in Jeffrey Judge, who failed get his foot around the ball and make the most of a decent position. But Limerick, who sauntered to a 3-0 win on their last trip to Ballybofey, were to restore parity on the half-hour.

A feature of that previous success on the banks of the Finn was incisive passes that cut the Harps rearguard to ribbons and the goal that levelled matters was cut from a similar cloth. Shane Tracy slid in Tierney on the inside left channel and his centre is dispatched with ease by Clarke, who had the easiest of tasks, from right in front of goal.

The hosts belied their lowly league status to manufacture some neat interchanges of passes in the first 45 minutes and when that failed the secondary option was to go long to the diminutive Oisin McMenamin. And for all his optimistic scampers and closing down, Harps best form of attack was from a more concise approach.

Limerick continued to look dangerous with men streaming from deep and through profitable little avenues in the Harps defence. The pattern of the game, though, was not so straightforward after the break as neither party found any real rhythm during a difficult third quarter. Substitute Garbhan Coughlan did create an opportunity of sorts when he pulled back to Tracy, only for Cullen to save and Coughlan then provided another opportunity for Tierney, but again the Harps netminder was equal to the effort.

The knocks were getting louder, however, and Harps refused to answer the door and were almost punished. Cullen had to be on his toes on a couple of occasions to avert possible warning signs as Limerick’s frontmen continued to interact and switch positions.

It wasn’t all one-way traffic. James Doherty and Stephen McLaughlin, who worked well in tandem on the right all evening, contrived a give-and-go and the right-back’s shot with the outside of his foot had Ryan beaten only for the ball to clip the roof of the net on its way over at the Town End with only 13 minutes left.

Tierney, following another breakaway that almost proved profitable let fly into the night air when released by Thomas Heary, but his pop too was over the crossbar and off into the night air. And although the contest crackled until the end, neither could produce the knockout blow.

Finn Harps: Gavin Cullen, James Doherty, Matthew Crossan, Packie Mailey, Stephen McLaughlin, Kevin McHugh, Marc Brolly, Gary Whoriskey, Thomas Bonner, Mark Forker, Oisin McMenamin (Shane O’Connor 63).
Subs not used: Davitt Walsh, Aaron O’Hagan, Keith Cowan, Ciaran Gallagher.

Limerick FC: David Ryan, Sean Kelly, Peter White, David Rogers, Pat Purcell, Jeffrey Judge (Stephen O’Flynn 81), Timothy Kiely (Garbhan Coughlan 63), Thomas Lyons, Shane Clarke, John Tierney, Shane Tracy (Thomas Heary 81).
Subs not used: John Sullivan, John McGuinness.

Referee: Brendan Kelly.