Macdara Ferris reports from Dalymount Park
Finn Harps took a big step towards saving their Premier Division status with a 2-0 win in Dalymount Park over Bohs with Mark Russell the hero scoring a goal either side of the half time break.
It was a victory that had major implications away from Dalymount as it relegated Cork City following their 2-1 loss away to Sligo earlier in the day. To go with that frustratingly for Bohemians, their defeat also handed the title to Shamrock Rovers making Ollie Horgan a hero to the Hoops fans as Rovers earned their 18th league title after playing just the 14 league games in this most bizarre of seasons.
It was the visitors’ first win in Dalymount this century and means that ninth placed Harps are now within five points of Shelbourne, St. Patrick’s Athletic and Derry City - with the Ballybofey side having two games in hand on Shels, one on Derry but having played one more than the Saints.
Keith Long’s side only needed a point to secure second place but defeat means there is still an outside chance that the newly deposed champions Dundalk can pip them for second place.
Tony McNamee’s long throws had caused Bohs difficulties throughout the opening 45 minutes and it was his final effort of the first half that brought the opener for Harps.
There was a bit of head tennis before Kosovar Sadiki headed the ball goalwards. Mark Russell did really well to spin and flick the ball on with his left boot into the back of net.
The visitors weren’t all about putting the ball deep into the box though and had plenty of the ball which they used to probe the Bohs defence. They had to deal with an early injury on 16 minutes that saw them lose their striker Karl O’Sullivan to injury, but it didn’t seem to set them back.
Twice James Talbot needed to be on his toes - first pushing a driving Tony McNamee effort behind for a corner and then to claim substitute Adam Foley’s effort.
Having said all that though Bohs had the slight upper hand in that opening 45 minutes. Keith Ward had a shot within the opening 30 seconds and was the most lively of the attacking options for the Gypsies.
Bohs captain Keith Buckley picked him out with a good through ball on 19 minutes but Ward, who had made a great diagonal run to beat the three-man Harps defence, hit his low effort just too close to Mark McGinley.
Across a couple of minutes Bohs had their best chances of the half. On 28 minutes a lovely passing Bohs move where they moved the ball through Danny Grant and Ward saw Buckley get a view of goal before he sliced his effort wide. A minute later Promise Omochere’s flick around the corner gave Ward another shooting chance, but he put it into the terrace behind the goal.
Omechere also went close when he got on the end of Andy Lyons’ cross from the right in the final minute of the half.
Six minutes into the second half Russell had got his second as he ran on to Adam Foley's low cross and drive the ball home by Talbot. Keith Long made a quadruple substitution as he looked to get his side back into the game and Ollie Horgan’s men retreated back into their half to try and hold onto their two goal lead.
Evan Ferguson forced McGinley into a superb save with the 16-year-old Bohs sub unlucky not to score and Harps lucky the ball which pinged back off the post didn’t go back in off McGinley. Whatever chance Bohs had of getting back into the game disappeared when the red mist descended on Anto Breslin near the red corner flag at the Finn Harps end line on 74 minutes
With Leo Donnellan trying to stop the ball going out for a corner, he ended up on the ground and Breslin booted him which resulted in referee Neil Doyle reaching in his back pocket for the red card.
It wasn’t the last sending off as Leo Donnellan received his marching orders five minutes from time. He was chasing a long punt out that James Finnerty was first to and he just went two footed through the back of the Bohs player to even the numbers up in the final few minutes.
Having lost ten league games in a row in Dalymount it was quite the win for Harps and crucially for Horgan’s side they finish the season with three home games against Pat’s, Shamrock Rovers and Waterford.
With the win sending Cork City down, Harps now have their sights on overhauling at least one of the sides above them so they can avoid the relegation playoff.
When the pubs re-open in the country, it is safe to say that Harps goalscorer Mark Russell and manager Ollie Horgan won’t have to buy a drink in Tallaght for any time soon.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Andy Lyons, Micheal Barker, James Finnerty, Anto Breslin; Conor Levingston (Jack Moylan 57), Keith Buckley © (JJ Lunney 87), Keith Ward (Evan Ferguson 57); Promise Omochere (Dawson Devoy 57), Andre Wright (Ross Tierney 57), Danny Grant.
Subs not used: Stephen McGuinness; Dan Casey.
Booked: JJ Lunney (89)
Sent off: Anto Breslin (74)
Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; Stephen Folan, Kosovar Sadiki, Shane McEleney; David Webster, Leo Donnellan, Mark Russell, Gareth Harkin, Tony McNamee (Ryan Connolly 72); Barry McNamee, Karl O'Sullivan (Adam Foley 17 [Raffaele Cretaro 90+4).
Subs not used: Patrick McGarvey, Sam Todd, Stephen Doherty, Adrian Delap.
Sent Off: Leo Donnellan (85)
Referee: Neil Doyle.
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Mark Russell (Finn Harps).