League Report: UCD 3 -3 Finn Harps

Ciaran Behan (left) gets a shot away past David Cawley

Ciaran Behan (left) gets a shot away past David Cawley Credit: Clare McCahill (ETPhotos)

In a six-goal epic, Success Edogun’s brace wasn’t enough to earn Finn Harps victory as Eanna Clancy’s late leveller rescued a dramatic draw for UCD at Belfield.

Action-packed from the very first whistle, with only eight minutes elapsed, the sides had already exchanged goals.

Sean O’Donnell, back starting, struck the opener for Finn Harps an astounding fourteen seconds into proceedings. UCD’s Donal Higgins whipped a fine free kick into the bottom right corner six minutes later to level matters.

On the half hour, Edogun’s elegantly taken goal restored the visitors’ advantage. Thirty minutes later, Ciaran Behan’s exquisitely executed strike restored parity.

Yet, late on, a Finn Harps penalty was expertly dispatched by Edogun. However, UCD roared back yet again to vanquish Finn Harps’ lead, Clancy’s rocket header provoking pandemonium at The Bowl as it ended a point apiece. Harps missing the opportunity to move level on points with The Students.

Having scored inside just three minutes against basement side, Longford Town, last week, Harps again were fast out of the traps. Luke O’Brien reacted sharpest to a bouncing ball on halfway and suddenly his charging run forwards opened up an overload on the attack for Finn Harps.

O’Brien calmly slotted it into O’Donnell’s path with the latter searing into the left-side of the box, producing a composedly accurate left-foot finish across stranded home goalkeeper, Kian Moore.

The hosts, though, weren’t behind for long. A surging run up to the edge of the box from Mikey McCullagh, scorer of a brace last time out, was cynically ended by Darragh Coyle’s tactical tackle.

Higgins made Coyle pay the maximum penalty by firing his free kick through the wall, past an unsighted Conor Walsh, in for the absent Tim Heimer in goal, to bring UCD back on terms.

Coyle, a scuttling presence across the pitch, then slipped in an overlapping O’Donnell on the right-hand flank. The scorer’s cutback found Max Johnston in the box, but his effort was bravely blocked by Clancy at close range.

With the returning Ronan Finn captaining them, UCD monopolised possession but found penetration hard to come by against a well-manned and physically meaty Finn Harps’ midfield, Coyle’s energy nicely complimenting the experienced trio of Ryan Rainey, skipper and top scorer, Tony McNamee and Davd Cawley.

Adam Wells was next to drive UCD up-field, the defender’s attacking foray only curtailed by an alert Noe Baba block on the edge of the penalty area.

McCullagh then made ground on the left wing with his alertly placed pass locating Jake Doyle in space, centrally. From range, Doyle’s drive drew a smart two-handed from diving Walsh.

Doyle drilled straight at Walsh before, seconds later, Harps regained the lead.

Walsh’s booming clearance was won aerially by Edogun. His holdup play brought in O’Brien on the left. The on-loan man from Bohemians laid the ball inside to Cawley whose effortless first-time pass down the line released Edogun into the area.

Racing through where O’Donnell had earlier, Edogun opted for a different approach as the by-line closed in. A sudden acceleration of pace allowed him to dip the shoulder, pirouetting inside Sean Brennan’s last-ditch tackle before tucking a finish of poise, precisely, past Moore, into the far bottom corner for his second goal in seven days.

After half-time, Brennan’s blast was only kept out by the crossbar as the ball thudded off in a reprieve for the white-shirted away side.

On the hour, however, UCD’s blue-shirted wave of attacks finally bore fruit.

Higgins’ hooked chip into the box wasn’t properly cleared by tiring Harps’ defenders. The ball broke to Behan, outside the area, who skilfully arrowed it, on the bounce, whizzing past Walsh to bulge the back of the net and heave The Students level once more.

As Behan celebrated his second goal this season against the Donegal men, UCD were backed on by a small but vocally vociferous home support.

Split by only three points in the table, both teams knew the potential risks and rewards of attacking all-out for a winner in the tense closing stages.

Although UCD, as they had all night, asked plenty of questions, Finn Harps held firm, led by Baba’s bravery, Walsh’s calmness and diligent backtracking throughout the team.

With a threadbare bench consisting of only four out-field substitutes, away manager, Darren Murphy introduced half of his available fresh (er) options. UCD, by contrast, enjoyed the luxury of a full dugout of possible match-winning players in bibs.

Wells headed high when unmarked before Harps’ resilience was rewarded.

McNamee’s piledriver from range deflected into Edogun’s path on the penalty spot. Before he could let fly, he was clumsily crumpled by Behan with referee, Glen Geraghty, instantly pointing to the penalty spot.

Despite a lengthy delay, Edogun effortlessly sent Moore the wrong way to give the Ballybofey team their third lead of the evening. Edogun doubling up his goal haul on a productive night.

Halfway through injury time, though, and Harps again saw their lead evaporate. Higgins hoofed a free kick into the mixer as Clancy, up from the back, towered above all around him to thump a bullet header home as UCD, by the scruff of the neck, wrestled themselves to a draw.

Two sides who’ll want to be in the promotion shakeup, serving up an all-time League of Ireland classic for the neutral. Harps, though, will rue thrice letting a lead slip.

Both teams are on the road next week, UCD travelling to Athlone Town whilst Finn Harps trek down to Tralee to face Kerry FC.


UCD: Kian Moore; Alex Dunne (Colin Bolton 89), Adam Wells, Eanna Clancy, Sean Brennan, Mikey McCullagh, Ronan Finn © (Adam Verdon 75), Michael Raggett (Hugh Parker 61), Ciaran Behan, Donal Higgins, Jake Doyle (A Brennan 89).

Subs not used: Dara Kavanagh (gk), Daniel McCarthy, Danu Kinsella-Bishop, Stephen Mohan, Cathal McCarthy.

Booked: Mikey McCullagh (26), Ciaran Behan (87).


Finn Harps: Conor Walsh; Matty Makinson, Noe Baba, Luke O’Brien, Ryan Rainey (Stephen Doherty 66), Darragh Coyle, David Cawley, Tony McNamee ©, Success Edogun, Max Johnston (Patrick Ferry 58), Sean O’Donnell.

Subs not used: Oisin Cooney (gk), Shane McMonagle, Gavin McAteer.

Booked: Sean O’Donnell (22), Matty Makinson (88).


Referee: Glen Geraghty.

Attendance: 342.

extratime.com Player of the Match: Eanna Clancy (UCD).