Donegal natives come back to haunt Harps as Students claim first win
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Finn Harps 0 UCD 1
UCD’s Donegal players certainly played their part as the basement club in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division notched up their first win of the campaign - at the 15th attempt - by beating Finn Harps 1-0 in Ballybofey on Friday evening.
Michael Gallagher, Sam Todd and captain Jack Keaney emerged as a vital trio as the Students stunned the Finn Park faithful when Liam Kerrigan struck in the 83rd minute with what turned out to be the winner.
UCD’s assistant manager William O’Connor, a native of Buncrana, said: “I thought the three of them were excellent. They were probably our three best players. I thought Jack (Keaney) in the middle of the park was probably the best player in the first half; he won everything. Sam is colossal at the back for us, he’s a massive player, and defensively he was really, really good.
Michael (Gallagher) has done really well over the last four or five weeks since he came back from injury. His clearances were very good. The way the three boys and the others defended is partly why we got a clean sheet.”
Significantly, the result moves UCD to within two points of Harps, with the season yet to reach the half-way point.
Having held Dundalk to a 2-2 draw in their previous outing, UCD are suddenly on a mini-roll and are now only two points adrift of second from bottom Finn Harps.
“It’s a great victory, it’s great to get the three points. It brings us back closer to the pack. We didn’t want to be cut adrift at the bottom,” he said.
UCD have been favourites for the drop since before the first ball was kicked this season, but the league is not even at the half-way stage.
“We have good players, there is a lot of football to be played,” he stated. “We don’t worry too much about what goes on outside ourselves, we are just focussing on our performances and trying to get the results. We feel we can get more points than we have got.”
Meanwhile, for Harps manager, Ollie Horgan, these are hugely challenging times. His panel has been ravaged by injuries and suspensions and they have lost four out of their last five games.
“We are certainly in as big a battle as we have ever been in,” he commented.
Overall, he felt UCD were the better team.
“They were hungrier and had a bit more bite,” he said.
“We are very cagey until we go behind and then we open up and are a different animal,” he pointed out.
Indeed, after falling behind to Kerrigan’s header as Ryan Rainey, Eric McWoods and Luke Rudden all went close for Harps.
But UCD, who had managed just one point on the travels prior to this, got the morale-boosting win.
Next up for Harps is another proverbial six-pointer as they head to Louth this coming Friday to face Drogheda United, the side immediately above them who are three points better off.