Finn Harps got their third win on the bounce courtesy of a comfortable victory over nine-man SD Galway at Finn Park on Good Friday.
[Alan Foley - Donegal Democrat]
The westerners were still scoreless at the break but were fighting an uphill task having had both Mike Gilmore and Nicky Curran given straight red cards in the first period. But the pressure finally told on the newly-named Galwegians and Adam Clarke made the breakthrough two minutes into the second half.
Blain Curtis added to the scoreline on 58 minutes before Michael Harty was then given a yellow for taking out Clarke when through on goal and Kevin McHugh rolled home the penalty for 3-0.
SD Galway - without a win in sin this season - will be hoping to put things right when they take on Mervue United next weekend.
The home side started with 16-year-old goalkeeper Shaun Patton - after regular netminder Ciaran Gallagher was ruled out with concussion in last week's 2-0 win over Waterford United. Visiting goalkeeper Ronan Burke had a fortunate escape inside five minutes when his attempted clearance was blocked down by Curtis, only for the ball to ricochet wide off the Harps striker.
The hosts had most of the ball to begin with, although their cause was helped when Gilmore was given a straight red card by match referee Darren Coombes for retaliating to a challenge from Harps winger Clarke, who was booked for the initial challenge.
Patton made a remarkable save from Michael Tierney moments later. Unbeknownst to the teen the SD Galway frontman, who dropped into midfield to fill the vacancy of the dismissal, was offside but the stop brought a warm clap from the home support.
Harps continued on the front foot and Simon Paul Treacy, the winger who curiously was also the back-up goalkeeper, hit the crossbar with a great curling shot just before the half-hour mark. SD Galway, at the other end, went close but Harty's shot was wide of the post before the second sending off furthered their odds.
Full-back Curran had words with Ciaran Coll and appeared to headbutt the defender, who went to ground. After consulting with his assistant referee Coombes sent Curran from the field seven minutes before the interval.
With the numbers bound to add up at some stage, Harps scored the opening goal on 47 minutes. Clarke made his way in from the right side and after a give and go with Tommy McBride, retrieved possession and shot crisply in at the near post. Thirteen minutes into the second half it was two when McHugh played strike partner Curtis into space and he placed the ball past the advancing goalkeeper and in at the base of the post.
On 62 minutes it got worse for SD Galway when Harty fouled Clarke. The away defender was fortunate not to join the queue at the shower. McHugh scored the penalty with the minimum fuss.
Harps continued to have a monopoly of opportunities as SD Galway's goal lived a charmed life. Eric Browne cleared from substitute James Doherty after some pinball in the box before Burke denied McHugh a second goal. All in all though, it was a good Friday for the Ballybofey side.
Finn Harps: Shaun Patton; Hugh Carlin (James Doherty 46) Peter Hutton (Aaron O'Hagan 63) Thomas McMonagle, Ciaran Coll; Adam Clarke, Shaun McGowan, Thomas McBride, Simon Paul Treacy; Blain Curtis (Matt Harkin 78) Kevin McHugh.
SD Galway: Ronan Burke; Nicky Curran, Eric Browne, Paddy Quinlan, Tommy Bradshaw; Ronan Conlon, Michael Harty (Colm Horgan 78), Eugene Greaney (Timmy Molloy 70), Mikey Gilmore; Michael Tierney, Enda Curran.
Referee: Darren Coombes.