Dundalk 1 - 1 Finn Harps
A wonderful strike from Ryan Curran after 67 minutes was enough to earn Wizard McGowan’s Under 19’s an important point in a top of the table clash in Oriel Park.
Played in blustery conditions on the lilywhite’s artificial surface the Harps players struggled to get to grips with the game and found themselves on the back foot early on with Bob McKenna proving to be a thorn in the visitors side.
After 13 minutes the young men from Donegal broke down the right hand side through Martin Redmond and Cathal McDaid. McDaid playing John McGarvey through down the right and the Falcarragh youngster’s cross come shot was just about tipped over the bar by the scrambling Craig Hanlon in the host’s goal.
The Louth men took the lead after 18 minutes after Hugh McFadden was harshly deemed to have fouled Conor McDonald in the penalty area, Bob McKenna stepped up and squeezed the ball into the bottom corner just past the fingertips of Shaun Patton who had guessed the right way.
Harps somewhat sprung into life after the blow with Gary Merritt in particular causing Karl Martin all sorts of problems down the Harps left. Indeed the Milford native could have equalized after a superb run drew a foul on the edge of the box but the winger couldn’t keep the resulting free-kick down.
The visitors came out with much more intent in the second half coming close early doors through Cathal McDaid and then Dean McConnell. Harps deservedly scored on 67 minutes following excellent work by front man Dean McConnell who teed up Ryan Curran and the Buncrana man made no mistake as he smashed a cracking volley into the bottom corner of the net.
What followed was a super encounter with both sides pushing hard for a winner. After 80 minutes Chris Reilly was played through and only for the brilliance of Patton in the Harps goal the tie could have been over. From the resulting corner it was Ryan Shields who put his body on the line blocking down a goal-bound effort following a goal-mouth scramble.
With just 2 minutes of time left in the match Dean McConnell was played through after some brilliant build up play involving McGarvey, McDaid and the impressive Dean Bonner. Just as McConnell looked set to net the winner a wonderful last ditch tackle from full back Brian Bird denied Harps a winner.
This was the first home game of the season in which Dundalk have dropped points and now leaves Harps tied for second with a game in hand next week against Fanad United at home. With Harps missing no less than 6 players through injury the result is all the more impressive.
Dundalk: Craig Hanlon, Karl Martin, Cian Byrne, Ben McLaughlin, Brian Bird, Mark Leavy, Conor McDonald, Peter Thomas, Kurt Murphy, Bob McKenna, Chris Reilly.
Subs: Daniel Hand, John McKeown, Robert Sweeney, Conor Macken.
Booked: P Thomas (64), B McLaughlin (81).
Finn Harps: Shaun Patton, Martin Redmond, Ryan Shields, Hugh McFadden, Stephen Rodden, Gary Merritt, Ryan Curran, Ryan Lonergan (Dean Bonner 24), Cathal McDaid, Dean McConnell, John McGarvey.
Subs: Cillain Gallagher, Rory Dunleavy
Booked: M Redmond (46)
Referee: Paul McLaughlin (Monaghan)