Wednesday 27 March 2019

First win still eludes Dundalk

Finn Harps 1-1 Dundalk

Patrick Hoban of Dundalk in action against John Kavanagh of Finn Harps. Photo: Sportsfile
Patrick Hoban of Dundalk in action against John Kavanagh of Finn Harps. Photo: Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

A title defence which was meant to be a waltz for Dundalk is proving to be something of a struggle already, the champions for a second week in a row needing to come from a goal down and settle for a point from a game they'd have seen as very winnable.

A Brian Gartland goal on 71 minutes gave Dundalk an equaliser away to a Finn Harps side who were on course for a remarkable win, courtesy of a first-half goal from Keith Cowan.

Harps had failed to even score a goal, let alone get a positive result, in their last eight meetings with Dundalk, and the early stages of this game last night suggested more of the same as the champions owned the ball for most of the first half.

But against the run of play, Harps went in front four minutes before half-time, defender Cowan left unmarked and able to head home from Raff Cretaro's corner, and seconds later Harps almost doubled the lead through debutant Sean Boyd.

Dundalk struggled to carve out an opening against a Harps defence marshalled by Cowan and Sam Todd, and goalkeeper Burke had little to do.

But finally, on 71 minutes, they got the breakthrough, Michael Duffy with the corner and Gartland powered home a header to equalise.

Harps still posed a threat but a point had to do for both sides.

Harps moved off the bottom of the table but Dundalk are already looking to make up lost ground.

Referee Robert Rogers and security staff had to separate the two camps after the final whistle as tempers flared with an on-field row involving players and staff from both sides.

FINN HARPS - Burke; Kavanagh, Cowan, Todd, O'Reillly; Borg, Harkin; Boyle (McAleer 86), Coyle, Cretaro (McGinley 75); Boyd (Place 66).

DUNDALK - Rogers; Gannon, Gartland, Hoare, Massey; Mountney (D Kelly 65), Shields, Jarvis (Flores 76), Duffy; Murray (Dummigan 85); Hoban.

REF - Robert Rogers.

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