Belgrove/Home Farm FC 0-1 Finn Harps (McCann 8′)
The outcome of this Ford FAI Cup second round tie, set in the leafy suburbs of Glasnevin, was settled by a harsh decision after 18 minutes. Referee, Simon Rogers, following what looked to be a full blooded 50/50 challenge between Belgrove/Home Farm’s Conor O’Keeffe and Finn Harps’ Ciaran Coll, produced the first card of the game – a straight red – for the Belgrove’s O’Keeffe. Coll easily returned to his feet once the referee had dealt with furious Belgrove/Home Farm protestations. Rogers made several other questionable decisions in the game and one wonders what might have been for the non-league outfit, had they had their full complement for 90 minutes. Ten minutes before that drama the alert Pat McCann took his chance when played in by Kevin McHugh to give Finn Harps the lead, coolly slotting under the advancing Andrew Jones in the home goal.
Due to the state of their home surface at Whitehall, this match was hosted at the compact Frank Cooke Park, which is bordered on one side by a clutch of mature Evergreen trees. It was the evergreen Kevin McHugh though who came into bloom and was at the heart of everything good for Finn Harps, as he looked to exploit their numerical advantage. Finn Harps had most of the play in the first half, with captain McHugh constantly finding space and creating chances, but Harps failed to really extend the home goalkeeper. And when McHugh might have tested Jones, the hard working Belgrove players deflected his on-target free kick wide, as Harps looked to press home their advantage.
There was a lively start to the second period as both teams had opportunities. On 47, Ruri Keating raced through for Finn Harps, however he slipped his shot wide of the post. Conor Winn in the visitors’ goal was finally tested a minute later but he was comfortably equal to Darren Rogers’ effort. Incidentally, Winn only played as regular ‘keeper, Shaun Patton was sitting his Leaving Certificate exams.
A couple of Kevin McHugh snap shots followed in the preceding ten minutes, but neither threatened Jones. In a rare foray into the Finn Harps half on 58 minutes, Eoin Mooney – who was switched from right midfield to the right side of a back three after the dismal – looked to find the unmarked Rogers with a measured cross. However the colossal Packie Mailey snuffed out the danger and headed clear. Indeed it was Mooney who got on the on the end of a long Belgrove free kick in the 92nd minute as the non-leaguers threw everyone into the box. His slight figure rose to knock down a header for Warren Taylor, but the ball wouldn’t fall for the Belgrove captain, although the excellent Mooney looked to have been pushed in the back. Referee, Rogers wasn’t interested. Ironically the referee was to get the next decision wrong, this time in favour of the home side. As Harps cleared up-field from the free kick, the busy Ruri Keating ran clear through only to be fouled by Belgrove’s last man. Somehow referee Rogers awarded a free against Keating, but it wasn’t to matter, as the final whistle was blown just moments later.
It’s worth noting, the last time Finn Harps met Belgrove, they reached the FAI Cup final in 1999. Their loyal travelling fans leaving Dublin tonight will no doubt be dreaming of a return visit on 02 November.
Belgrove/Home Farm: Jones, O’Keeffe, McGuinness, Taylor, Smith, Doran, Mooney, Hussey (Drew 65′), Rogers (Bell 65′), Yeats, O’Dwyer (Behan 77′).
Finn Harps: Winn, C.Bonner, Coll, Cowan, Mailey, McNulty (Forker 56′), Fisher (Tiofack 79′), McCann, Keating, McHugh, Harkin (Black 88′).
FAI Ford Cup man of the match: Pat McCann (Finn Harps).
Attendance: 100 (estimate).