Stuart Connolly reports from Finn Park
Finn Harps ensured Premier Division survival with an emphatic 5-0 victory over Longford Town in front of a packed Finn Park. The stands were packed during the game but just as the full time whistle was blown, Harps fans proceeded to invade the pitch to celebrate.
Next season will be their fourth in a row in the top division as goals from Will Seymore, Ryan Connolly, Karl O'Sullivan, Tunde Owolabi - who netted his tenth league goal of the campaign - and Luke Rudden capped off a rollercoaster of a season for the Ballybofey side.
Finn Harps went into this match knowing that a win would ensure their Premier Division survival, failing that, matching the result down in Waterford would suffice.
The hosts started on the front foot and Lee Steacy was forced into an early save with Owolabi getting an effort on target inside the first 45 seconds.
Ollie Horgan's side were very much in the driving seat in the early stages and only the post - which was struck after an effort from distance by KO'Sullivan - and a fine stop from Steacy kept the game scoreless inside the first 20 minutes.
Harps' pressure eventually paid off two minutes before the half hour mark via a short corner. Connolly had a big hand in it with his pass finding Barry McNamee on the edge of the area and the former Cork City man lined up a shot which was deflected up but fell kindly for Seymore to head home from close range.
Just five minutes later, Harps doubled their lead in style. After a long throw-in was headed on by David Webster, it fell perfectly for Connolly, who arrowed his shot on the half volley into the top corner from 25 yards.
Things were quiet after the second goal as the hosts snuffed out any opportunities that Longford could muster up.
Harps took that two goal cushion into the interval and less than five minutes after the restart, they made it three. O'Sullivan was unlucky in the first half but luck was on his side in the second as he put an effort from distance past Steacy with the aid of a big deflection.
On the hour, Harps extended their lead once more with Owolabi firing beyond Steacy after an accurate through ball from Connolly.
The last half hour of the game was quiet with little to no chances at either end but late in stoppage time, substitute Luke Rudden scored his first goal for the club from close range as Harps avoided the Relegation Play-off.
Finn Harps: Gerard Doherty; Jordan Mustoe (Johnny Dunleavy ht), David Webster, Shane McEleney, Ethan Boyle; Will Seymore (Dan Hawkins 82), Ryan Connolly, Mark Coyle, Karl O'Sullivan, Barry McNamee (Mark Timlin 77); Tunde Owolabi (Luke Rudden 89).
Subs not used: Mark McGinley (gk), Adam Foley, Stephen Doherty, Patrick McGarvey, Nathan Logue.
Longford: Lee Steacy; Shane Elworthy (Michael McDonnell ht), Paddy Kirk, Aaron Robinson, Conor Davis(Aaron McNally 56); Rob Manley, Aaron O'Driscoll, Darragh Nugent (Dean Zambra 56), Aodh Dervin (Matthew O'Brien 69), Joe Manley; Dean Williams (Aaron Dobbs 69).
Subs not used: Michael Kelly(gk), Jack Doyle.
Referee: John McLaughlin
ExtraTime.com Player of the Match: Ryan Connolly (Finn Harps)