Sport

Horgan not interested in moral victories as Harps are edged out by Rovers at Finn Park

Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan said he was pleased with the performance of his defence against Shamrock Rovers on Friday night but unhappy about the manner of the concession of the only goal of the game in first half injury time
Larry Roberts

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Finn Harps 0 Shamrock Rovers 1

Lightning does not strike twice it would seem for Finn Harps.

On Friday, they huffed and puffed and once again finished strongly, but in the end were beaten 1-0 by SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders Shamrock Rovers.

In their previous outing they had managed to come from 2-0 down after 86 minutes to snatch an unlikely draw against Drogheda United.

But there was no repeat of the heroics in this encounter at Finn Park.

For Harps boss, Ollie Horgan, there were indeed positive points to take from the game, not least that they were still in with a chance until the final shrill of the whistle.

But Harps have now gone eight games without a win and are rooted in second bottom spot, 10 points adrift of Drogheda United.

Horgan paid tribute to Rovers’ defence.

“We had a number of corners and a number of free kicks and long throws, in the last 20 minutes in particular, but they showed their quality,” he said.

Harps deployed a 5-4-1 formation and it was backs to the wall stuff for the bulk of the first half.

“What was disappointing was the manner and the timing of the goal that we conceded,” Horgan noted.

The stadium announcer had just declared that there was one minute of additional stoppage time at the end of the first half when Rovers struck for what turned out to be the winner.

Rory Gaffney was given too much space and from 25 yards out he let fly with the proverbial daisy-cutter to score his sixth goal of the campaign.

“Had we held out it would have been interesting to have seen how the second half would have panned out,” Horgan noted.

“Moral victories are no good, we just have to move on.”

Prior to that Harps netminder, Gavin Mulreany - again preferred to Mark Anthony McGinley - had made a string of good punches and saves, and was commanding in his area.

And late in the second half, he also kept Harps with some further interventions, including a fine save to deny Rovers substitute Aidomo Emakhu.

“There’s a gap between the teams, points-wise and quality-wise,” Horgan readily acknowledged, but Harps have played fairly well in recent weeks and the hope is that against lesser opposition that they might start returning to winning ways.

Meanwhile, Finn Harps’ home game against Derry City, originally scheduled for Friday, July 15, has been put back to Sunday, July 17 at 6pm due to Derry’s Europa Conference League first qualifying round game against FC Riga of Latvia on Thursday, July 14.

Harps officials have welcomed the fact that it is on Sunday rather than a Monday evening as this should ensure a big attendance.

Harps’ dip in form of late, combined with a spike in Covid cases, the cost of living issues, and rain, were all seen as factors in Friday’s smaller than expected crowd for the visit of Shamrock Rovers. The official attendance was just 932, the second lowest of the season.

Finn Harps: Mulreany; Carrillo (Mahdy, 86 mins), N’zeyi, Tourish, Slevin, Donelon (Duncan, 76 mins); Mihaljevic, Hery, Connolly, McNamee (Timlin, 86 mins); McWoods (Rudden, 65 mins).

Shamrock Rovers: Mannus; Gannon (Hoare, 85 mins), Lopes, Grace; Finn (Cotter, 76 mins), McCann (Towell, 72 mins), O’Neill, Kavanagh; Watts, Gaffney, Greene (Emakhu, 76 mins).

Referee: O. Moran (Dublin).

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