League Report: Finn Harps 1 - 0 Kerry

A debut goal from Sean Patton gave Finn Harps a richly deserved victory over Kerry in Ballybofey on Thursday evening.

Indeed, were it not for some poor finishing and excellent goalkeeping from Aaron O’Sullivan in the Kerry goal, the margin of victory could have been greater.

In a low-key opening at the Donegal venue, Kerry’s Sean McGrath twice tested Harps keeper Tim-Oliver Heimer inside the opening ten minutes. Unfortunately for the Kerry man, both efforts lacked conviction and were comfortably held by the German goalkeeper.

Harps, starting with 16-year-old Gavin McAteer in midfield and 17-year-old Patton up front, created their first meaningful opportunity just after the quarter hour mark. 

It was the lively Patton who threaded a slide rule pass through to Success Edogun coming in off his right-wing berth, however O’Sullivan was quick off his line to smother the danger.

From the resultant corner from Tony McNamee, Patrick Ferry rose well at the near post but his header was well-off target.

Kerry were inches away from taking the lead shortly afterwards through Ronan Teahan. 

A poor clearance from Heimer put the Harps defence under pressure and when McGrath worked the ball to Teahan on the edge of the area, the midfielder checked onto his left foot and fired a powerful shot against the post with the goalkeeper rooted to the spot. A real let off for the home side.

At the other end, teenagers Patton and McAteer combined impressively to play in Ferry behind the Kerry defence. 

However, O’Sullivan was again quick off his line to narrow the angle and make a fine save.

That was a warning shot that Kerry failed to heed and Harps took the lead in the 36th minute. The away side committed bodies forward for a trademark Sam Aladesanusi long-throw from the left. 

The right-backs delivery was headed clear by Ryan Rainey, with Ferry picking the loose ball up close to his own corner flag.

Ferry played an excellent one-two with McAteer and suddenly the fleet footed winger was scampering over the halfway line with Aladesanusi, deputising for the suspended Kevin Williams, hopelessly out of position from the throw in.

With Kerry trying desperately to retreat, Ferry played the perfect through ball with the outside of his right foot to Patton, who opened up his body and finished first time, through the legs of O’Sullivan, for a splendid team goal. 

It really was a superb counter-attack, orchestrated by the inspired Ferry.

Buoyed by the opener, the home side put another fine passing move together just before half-time that almost led to their second goal. Following some slick passing in the midfield, full-back Kevin Jordan’s pass found Ferry in space once more down the left. 

This time the former Ballinamallard man pulled the ball back for Edogun at the far post. The powerful striker-come-winger had time to take a touch and was unlucky to see his rasping right-footed effort flash past the post.

Kerry were looking for the half time whistle at this stage and after right-back Jamie Watson and Ferry again threatened, the visitors were relieved to retire only a goal behind at the interval.

Within five minutes of the resumption, Ferry was at it again, this time giving Ethan Kos the slip and stinging the palms of O’Sullivan from Patton’s pass.

Kerry were struggling to find a foothold in the game and an ill-advised throw in from left-back Sean O’Connell almost led to a second goal. 

The hard-working Patton beat Andy Spain to the ball and after receiving the return from fellow teenage prodigy McAteer, the on-loan Derry City man looked poised to double his tally. However, Kos bailed out his side with an outstanding last-ditch block.

Patton again tested an increasingly overworked O’Sullivan shortly afterwards, after Kerry failed to deal with a Watson delivery from the right, as Harps continued to turn the screw.

Kerry needed a response and after Spain and top scorer Ryan Kelliher linked up just before the hour mark, half-time substitute Daniel Okwute was presented with a sighter. 

Unfortunately for the former Harps man, his left-footed effort was wayward after cutting in from the right-hand-side.

At least it was a bit of encouragement for the away side as they started to enjoy a bit more territory, without creating anything too clearcut in the line of chances.

At the other end, Erogun burst into the box from a Patton flick-on but his finish was straight at O’Sullivan from a tight angle.

Noe Baba was next to try his luck for Harps but his header from six yards from McNamee’s delivery from the right was again too close to O’Sullivan.

Inside the final ten minutes and the impressive McAteer had a great opportunity to seal the issue for his side. 

Edogun did brilliantly to win possession on the edge of his own area and drove forward purposefully with the ball before finding Patton on the right. 

The striker’s low cross was controlled by McAteer, who was unlucky to see his left-footed finish bounce agonisingly wide off the post, with O’Sullivan again possibly getting a vital touch.

It was all Harps at this stage and Ferry got on the end of a McAteer pass almost immediately, firing another shot into the gloves of O’Sullivan.

From the goalkeeper’s clearance, Kerry substitute Cian Brosnan found space behind the Finn Harps defence. 

His cut-back found fellow sub Okwute, however the winger could only shoot wide under pressure for another replacement, Stephen Doherty.

That was to be the end of the chances, with the home side holding on relatively comfortably for the three points.

After a run of four league games with a victory, the result was a timely boost for Finn Harps manager Darren Murphy, who will no doubt have been especially delighted with the contributions of youngsters Patton and McAteer over the ninety minutes.

For Kerry meanwhile, their search for a first away win of the season continues after a disappointing showing.


Finn Harps: Tim-Oliver Heimer, Jamie Watson, Matthew Makinson, Noe Baba, Kevin Jordan (Stephen Doherty 75), Tony McNamee (Max Hutchison 90), Gavin McAteer (Conor Tourish 90), Ryan Rainey, Success Edogun, Patrick Ferry (Max Johnston 90), Sean Patton.

Subs not used: Oisin Cooney, Darragh Coyle, Nathan McDaid, Aaron McLaughlin.

Booked: Tony McNamee 42, Kevin Jordan 53, Noe Baba 68


Kerry: Aaron O’Sullivan, Sam Aladesanusi, Andy Spain, Ethan Kos, Sean O’Connell, Ronan Teahan (Graham O’Reilly 77), Daire McCarthy, Sean McGrath, Nathan Gleeson (Cian Brosnan 71), Kennedy Amechi (Daniel Okwute 46), Ryan Kelliher.

Subs not used: Antonio Tuta, Victor Udeze, Finn Barrett, Togor Silong.

Booked: Nathan Gleeson 33, Kennedy Amechi 42, Andy Spain 63, Sam Aladesanusi 79


Referee: Glen Geraghty

Attendance: 827.

Man of the Match: Patrick Ferry (Finn Harps).