Monday 16 December 2019

Harps' second string reign in Shield decider

Soccer, O’Neill Shield Final: Boyne Harps 2nds 2 Parkvilla 2nds 0

PJ Murray

Boyne Harps 2nds won the O'Neill Shield Final on Friday night with a two-goal win over Parkvilla in horrendous weather at the MDL grounds.

The game was a physically tough encounter, with neither side willing to give an inch, but credit goes to the referee who officiated the game excellently in tough conditions.

Harps took the lead early on. Parkvilla were attempting to play out from the back, but Harps closed them down and eventually turned the ball over. That led to a shot from distance by Nathan Llewellyn which was blocked, but the ball rebounded into the path of Conor Tully and he smashed home.

In a very open game Parkvilla almost levelled soon after when a cross-field pass from the right wing to the back post was put wide from just six yards out. The Harps defence was caught out again when a cross from the right was volleyed over from point-blank range.

It was one-way traffic for a short period as the Harps defence was under serious pressure, but eventually they broke upfield and Bernard Osborne was played through into a one-on-one with the Parkvilla keeper but took too much out of the ball and the opportunity was smothered.

Early in the second half Harps introduced William Woods and with his first touch he found himself through on goal but put his effort wide.

From a Villa kickout, Tom Reilly powered his header back toward the Meath side's goal and James Burke slipped a pass through to striker Llewellyn who took his chance very well to score around the onrushing keeper.

Minutes before scoring, Llewellyn had a similar chance, but on that occasion he took too much time and ultimately was closed down, so there was a sense of relief that he dispatched the second chance.

Dean Martin didn't have many saves to make in the Harps goal, but credit is due to the keeper for doing what he had to do very professionally and playing his part in Harps keeping a first clean sheet in a long time.

However, they were fortunate to keep 10 men on the pitch when Tom Reilly put in a heavy tackle, but after some consideration the referee opted against sending off the Harps captain.

The Drogheda side saw a free from the right come back off the crossbar as the Villa keeper was rooted to the spot. Late on Danny Doyle's side could have put the game to bed with a third goal when Woods slipped the ball through, and while the initial shot was saved the rebound was blocked on the line.

Thankfully, though, the extra goal wasn't needed and Harps can celebrate what is the first of three big games in the space of a week.

On Wednesday they are back in the MDL to face a Trim Celtic in the Division 3 Final, and then on Saturday they face Duleek in the Reserve Cup semi-final. Trim Celtic have yet to be beaten in league action this season, so that will be a big ask, and should Harps get over Duleek on Saturday they will face Trim again in that final.

Boyne Harps 2nds: Dean Martin, Gary Smith, David Donovan, Jason O'Boyle, Shane Kierans, Bernard Osborne, Dale Harding, James Burke, Conor Tully, Tom Reilly, Nathan Llewellyn Subs: William Woods, Malik Luha, Keith Mullally.

Drogheda Independent