Finn Harps and Galway United earned their first points of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division season with a Finn Park draw – but it was a result that left the visitors scratching their heads.
Sean Houston had put the Donegal side in front and Kevin Devaney equalised for Galway, who ended up hitting the woodwork on three occasions as the gods seemed to be contriving against them.
Devaney, a former Harps player, Ronan Murray and Vinny Faherty were the unfortunate parties.
After a quiet opening on a surface that continued to cut up, Houston calmly picked his spot, low into Conor Winn’s bottom corner, for the opening goal for Harps on 28 minutes after decent approach play by Eddie Dsane and Paddy McCourt.
The former Derry City and Celtic winger was making his first start for Harps, and played reasonably well in a central midfield role before being replaced on the hour.
Galway, having gone down to both Drogheda United and Cork City in their opening two fixtures, were slow to chug their way through the gears. However, in the 35th minute they really ought to have got back on terms.
Devaney played Murray in on the inside left channel and having rounded Harps goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher, the angle had just become too acute to shoot.
Maintaining composure, Murray waited to pullback from the byline to Devaney, whose shot across goal was arrowed, almost to perfection, only to strike the Harps goalpost. From the follow-up, Gallagher did enough spread himself to halt the advances of Gavan Holohan.
Two minutes before the break, Galway’s Faherty passed up on a golden opportunity to score his team’s first goal of the campaign.
Lee Grace and Murray were involved in a clutter of players on the edge of the Harps penalty area and the ball broke to Faherty in a pocket of opportunity.
With only Gallagher to beat, Faherty’s effort lacked conviction and it rolled at a snail’s pace inches wide of the far post as the Harps support at the Town End in Ballybofey held their collective breath.
The pressure did tell, though, just 57 seconds into the second half when Devaney made the most of some indecisive defending in front of the Harps goal and shot past Gallagher for 1-1.
Then, barely three minutes later, Devaney galloped down the left, although this time he couldn’t keep his shot down.
It was Galway who continued to make the chances. Four minutes after McCourt’s withdrawal, with Harps again struggling to clear, the home side were blessed and Murray struck the inside of the post from a delicately placed shot with Devaney typically involved.
And although Harps did threaten when Winn was forced from his line to deny Eddie Dsane, Galway’s luck was confirmed to be slim when Marc Ludden’s cross was headed onto the crossbar by Faherty with 11 minutes to play.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Ethan Boyle, Packie Mailey, Kilian Cantwell, Ciaran Coll; Aidan McAleer, Sean Houston, Barry Molloy, Eddie Dsane (Jonny Bonner 66); Paddy McCourt (Gareth Harkin 59), Ciaran O’Connor (Danny Morrissey 59).
Galway United: Conor Winn; Colm Horgan, Lee Grace, Stephen Folan, Mark Ludden; Gavan Holohan, David Crawley, Alex Byrne, Kevin Devaney (Gary Shanahan 90); Ronan Murray (Conor Melody 85); Vinny Faherty (Padraic Cunningham 81)