Finn Harps 1 Sligo Rovers 0
KARL O’Sullivan netted a debut goal as Finn Harps felt the Valentine’s night love at Finn Park with a derby win over Sligo Rovers.
In 2019, when Harps managed to survive in a play-off against Drogheda United, it took the Donegal side until May and their 16th game of the season for a first win.
O’Sullivan’s debut goal helped ensure that Harps followers won’t have the same anxious wait.
In 42 previous League meetings at Finn Park, there had never been a scoreless draw and O’Sullivan’s goal kept that sequence intact.
The former Limerick FC attacker bundled home eleven minutes into the second half after Dave Webster headed down a cross from Mark Coyle into the danger zone.
Ronan Coughlan fashioned a big chance of a leveller on 65 minutes, but his attempt was way too high when he might have expected to hit the target.
Two minutes into added time at the end, Ronan Murray was put through, but Harps ‘keeper Mark Anthony McGinley made a vital save.
Manager Ollie Horgan has bemoaned the fact that he has had to build Harps from scratch again for 2020 as the Donegal side saw 12 of last year’s panelists depart, while Mark Timlin suffered a season-ending cruciate injury in pre-season.
However, Harps were able to flex some new-found muscle with their pre-season shopping seeing the recruitment of the likes of Barry McNamee, but the former Derry City captain was kept among the replacements here.
McNamee came in for the final 19 minutes as Harps looked to add a second.
New signings Webster, O’Sullivan, Kosovar Sadiki, Shane McEleney and Ryan Connolly were all included in a new-look Harps side.
Sam Todd’s stretched to reach an early free kick delivered by former Sligo star Raffaele Cretaro, but the defender was unable to get a connection.
O’Sullivan couldn’t trouble Ed McGinty, the Sligo goalkeeper, with a couple of long-range efforts.
At the other end, Garry Buckley had a chance to test home net-minder Mark Anthony McGinley in the 24th minute, but a tame attempt was easily dealt with.
Moments earlier, Teemu Penninkangas’ header lacked the punch after the Finnish defender connected with Darragh Noone’s teasing free.
Harps - McGinley; McEleney, Sadiki, Todd; Webster, G.Harkin, Coyle (R.Harkin 85), Connolly; Russell; Cretaro (B McNamee 71), O’Sullivan.
Sligo - McGinty; Kane, Seymore, Penninkangas; Cawley, Callan-McFadden, Morahan, Buckley (Devers 77), Noone; Coughlan, Murray.
Ref - D McGraith