Finn Harps produced back-to-back victories for the first time this season courtesy of a 3-2 success over Limerick in Ballybofey.
A Ciaran O’Connor goal put the home side in front before a free-kick from Lee-J Lynch from the touchline flew into the Harps net for a Limerick leveller.
However, a goal from Danny Morrissey edged Harps back in front just before the midpoint of the first half and Caolan McAleer added a superb third approaching half-time.
Chances were few and far between in the second 45 minutes but a late goal from Limerick substitute Paul O’Conor did make for an interesting finish. Morrissey was given a straight red in injury time for a dangerous tackle on O’Conor.
Ciaran Coll, the Harps captain, had the first opportunity from an Ethan Boyle cross in just the fourth minute, when a crisp diagonal header was destined for the top corner only for Freddy Hall in the Limerick goal to tip over.
Then, just six minutes in, Harps edged in front. O’Connor stabbed home from close range after an attempted overhead kick by Morrissey as Boyle had headed a Paddy McCourt corner back into the penalty area.
Limerick were defeated 2-0 on the night - 2-1 on aggregate - and were relegated on their last visit to Ballybofey in November 2015.
But they managed to conjure an equaliser just two minutes after falling behind this time. From a Harps perspective it was certainly an avoidable concession.
Lynch’s free from the left touchline didn’t seem to have much of a threat as it was lined up some 30 yards out. The free wasn’t even fired in with huge pace; instead bouncing and with no takers from either team went just inside the post to make it 1-1.
Ollie Horgan’s team went back in front after 21 minutes when Coll swept a ball from his left back berth that was put back into the danger area by Caolan McAleer and Morrissey was on hand to tuck past Hall to give a fine move the fine finish it deserved.
Towards the end of the half, both Sean Houston and McAleer were off target with shots for Harps.
The latter wasn’t so wasteful six minutes before the end of the half. On receipt of possession from O’Connor, McAleer took a touch on the right wing from the angle of the box, curled an excellent effort that went in off the underside of the Limerick crossbar with his left foot.
Tommy Robson fizzled a shot over the Harps crossbar as Limerick sought and immediate response. However, they went in trailing 3-1 at the break.
Both teams went into the fixture on the back of decent victories during the week. Harps defeated St Patrick’s Athletic 3-1 at home, while Limerick overcame Bohemians by two goals to one at Dalymount Park.
Rodrigo Tosi headed a great chance wide of the Harps post just two minutes into the second half as Shaun Kelly crossed. At the other end, though, Kilian Cantwell tested Hall with a header.
Ciaran Gallagher in the Harps goal was rarely tested for the majority of the second half as Limerick never reached the gears they’ve proven on occasion this season that they’re capable of.
Robson crossed well for Tosi with 10 minutes to go but the Brazilian’s header was well over.
With 16 minutes to go, Harps introduced Michael Funston for his final appearance at Finn Harps.
It was the Letterkenny native’s 334th appearance for the club having debuted in 2004 but he will depart following next Friday’s fixture against Sligo Rovers.
O’Conor pulled one back for Limerick in the 86th minute when he drilled into the bottom corner after Gallagher had punched clear a Robson corner.
Another Limerick sub, Dean Clarke, was narrowly wide with a headed chance from a Lynch cross in the 95th minute.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Ethan Boyle, Kilian Cantwell, Packie Mailey, Ciaran Coll; Caolan McAleer (Michael Funston 74), Gareth Harkin, Paddy McCourt (Jonny Bonner 70), Sean Houston; Danny Morrissey, Ciaran O’Connor.
Limerick: Freddy Hall; Shaun Kelly, Tony Whitehead (Dean Clarke 82), Robbie Williams, Tommy Robson; Lee-J Lynch, Bastien Hery, Shane Duggan (Paul O’Conor, half-time), Chiedozie Ogbene; Chris Mulhall (Ian Turner 56), Rodrigo Tosi.
Referee: Keith Kennedy (IFA).