Harps within a whisker of Ballinteer scalp
FOR the second year in succession, Skerries Harps faced an away trip in the play-offs and almost caused an upset – losing out by just two points after an epic game on the Ballinteer all-weather surface last Wednesday night.
Harps went into this game without team captain Donnacha Reilly who has just started a six-month tour of duty in Lebanon and in addition to that they were without their two regular half backs, while Bryan Cullen had only stepped off a flight earlier in the day following Dublin's trip to Cancun in Mexico.
As such the odds were stacked against a Skerries side that had been heavily beaten by the same opposition a month ago, but despite facing into a very strong breeze they got off to a very good start with Mark Boylan forcing an early 45'. Graham Cullen duly slotted over off Harry Dawson's kick, before the home side levelled six minutes into the game.
Dawson was then unlucky to see a free come back off the butt of the post, with the 'keeper stranded, but Skerries continued to press against the wind - albeit without getting their just rewards for their possession.
Mid-way through the opening half the sides were still level, with Eoin McGinley and Bryan Cullen snuffing out any threat at the back. Then a serious injury to Ballinteer midfielder Peter Curry caused a hold-up for almost five minutes as the player was treated and carried off.
The game resumed with a Skerries free, with Colin Daly cutting clean through only to blaze wide across the goal.
Thereafter the hold-up seemed to affect Skerries more as they lost their rhythm and allowed Ballinteer back into the game. Harps' game became strewn with errors as players lost possession too easily, with Ballinteer kicking four points off turnover ball. A further two points to the home side in injury time left Harps trailing by 0-7 to 0-1 at the break.
This was not a true reflection of the game as the home side had not threatened the Harps goal, but nonetheless Ballinteer were to edge a further point ahead from the throw in.
But then Bryan Cullen, having ghosted in from the left, received a great pass from Boylan and his well-struck shot from 20 metres skimmed over rather than under the crossbar for Harps' second score.
Skerries were then to get the goal needed to get them back in contention when, on 40 minutes, Dawson's long ball was fielded on the end line by Boylan. He in turn fed Daly who duly converted to put just a goal between the sides.
Harps were to outscore their opponents by five points to three in the next period of play, with Dawson leading the way with four points, and with five minutes remaining they trailed by just a point and almost came close to finding the back of the net for a second time.
Substitute Oisin O'Leary latched onto a cross from Barry Davey, but his fisted effort from five metres out was scrambled out to end Skerries' hopes. For all that they should be happy with their display, with Eoin McGinley, Eoin Smith and both Graham and Bryan Cullen outstanding.
SKERRIES HARPS: Alun Cullinan; Jack Smith, Eoin McGinley, Mark Kirwan, Dylan McNamee, Bryan Cullen 0-1, Ross McGarry; Mark Boylan, Graham Cullen 0-1; Eoin Ellis, Barry Davey, Harry Dawson 0-4; Eoin Smith, Collie Daly 1-1, Paul Cashman. Subs used: Oisin O'Leary, Shane Hickey.