Wexford Youths 1-1 Finn Harps
Andy Mulligan’s superbly finished first goal of the season salvaged a point for Wexford Youths as they had to come from behind against Finn Harps at Ferrycarrig Park.
Harps may have been ravaged by injuries and without suspended striker Dave Scully, as boss Ollie Horgan also had to watch from the stand due to a ban, but the Donegal side utterly dominated the first half of this first clash of the season of last year’s promoted sides.
The long throw of Tony McNamee caused Youths problems from as early as the second minute when his first one dropped for Gareth Harkin, whose volley warmed the hands of Youths' keeper Graham Doyle on a bitterly cold night.
The visitors maintained their early pressure with Adam Hanlon shooting over from a Harkin corner before Keith Cowan flashed a header over the home bar from Liam Flatley’s corner from the opposite side.
Youths eased that pressure briefly with Danny Ledwith getting forward on 13 minutes to shoot into the side netting.
But Harps continue to boss the game and deservedly took the lead on 24 minutes.
Another of McNamee’s long throws wasn’t cleared as Craig McCabe pulled down Ryan Curran, who had turned sweetly inside the area.
The Harps striker dusted himself down to send Doyle the wrong way form the penalty spot.
Harps remained the better side into the second half with Doyle stretching to tip over a shot from Damien McNulty setting the tone one minute in.
Youths needed a bit of inspiration to get into the game and it duly arrived on 51 minutes.
Paul Murphy threaded a sublime ball through for winger Mulligan, who slipped the ball under Ciaran Gallagher for a well-taken first goal of the season.
Youths then thought they’d won it on 84 minutes but for some frantic Harps defending.
Stephen Last shot Danny Ledwith's cross off a post with Murphy’s follow-up brilliantly cleared off the line by Packie Mailey.
Harps substitute Michael Funston then flashed a diving header wide three minutes from time.
Wexford Youths: Graham Doyle; Craig McCabe, Gary Delaney, Stephen Last, Danny Ledwith; Aidan Friel (Shane Dunne 82), Jonny Bonner, Chris Kenny, Andy Mulligan; Eric Molloy; Paul Murphy.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty, Packie Mailey, Keith Cowan, Ciaran Coll; Liam Flatley (Barry Molloy 56), Sean Houston, Gareth Harkin, Adam Hanlon (Michael Funston 74); Tony McNamee, Ryan Curran.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).