Finn Harps goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher - nor his replacement Shaun Patton - will not forget the last day of his teens after an eventful game at the RSC that saw the Ballybofey side post a fine away win against Waterford United.
[Compliments of the Donegal Democrat]
Gallagher, who turns 20 today, was knocked unconscious and was down for 21 minutes before having to attend Waterford Regional Hospital but it was later learned his injuries were nothing more than concussion. His place in goal was taken by 16-year-old Patton, making his first senior appearance and his day was made complete when he saved a penalty from Gary Dempsey with only 11 minutes remaining.
By that stage Harps were already 2-0 up with goals in first half stoppage time from Sean Paul Treacy - his first for the club - and an own goal from Waterford’s Seamus Long.
Striker Stephen O’Donnell only learned on Wednesday that his season is over after an MRI scan revealed he had a grade one cruciate tear - a huge blow to manager Peter Hutton and director of football Felix Healy.
It was Waterford who made the more promising start to the game. There was double disappointment for the home side in under 30 seconds. A free-kick from the right was floated over by Dempsey and Ben Ryan hit the base of the post with a free header. The ball bounceed around the box before Peter White scooped it back across the six-yard box for Long to stoop and head in, but the assistant referee’s flag disallowed the goal.
On 26 minutes, Gallagher and Long collided and the long interlude began. The goalkeeper was attended to for over 20 minutes and was taken away in an ambulance. For a while, there was even a rumour the match might’ve been abandoned, however, match referee James McKell, allowed things to continue.
Therefore, the first half lasted almost 70 minutes and seven minutes into stoppage time, Treacy broke into space following a pass from Shaun McGowan and beat Packie Holden in the hosts’ goal. Then, 21 minutes into the additional time, Long planted the ball in his own net for a 2-0 away lead after a bizarre half of football.
With a youngster between the posts, Harps were understandably more cautious after the break. In what looked like a lifeline for Waterford Sean Maguire was deemed to be taken down by Hutton. However, Patton saved to round off a frenetic afternoon.
Harps’ Airtricity League First Division fixture between Finn Harps v SD Galway has been moved forward 24 hours and will now be played at Finn Park, Ballybofey on Good Friday, at 7.45pm.
Waterford United: Packie Holden; Seamus Long, John Frost, Paul Carey, Craig Burns; Peter White (Sean Maguire 56), Paul Phelan, Aidan McGrath (Dylan Mernagh 78), Gary Dunphy (Jason Keane 78), Gary Dempsey; Ben Ryan.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher (Shaun Patton 45+3); Hugh Carlin (James Doherty 86), Ciaran Coll, Peter Hutton (Aaron O’Hagan 82), Thomas McMonagle; Adam Clarke, Thomas McBride, Shaun McGowan, Paul Simon Treacy; Blain Curtis, Kevin McHugh.
Referee: James McKell.