Goals in either half from John Kavanagh and Nathan Boyle saw a dominant Finn Harps book their place in the play-off final with a 2-0 win over Drogheda United at Finn Park.

With the sides tied one-apiece following last week's first leg in Drogheda, it was all to play for on a chilly night in Ballybofey, but the home side never looked likely to denied on home turf.

Harps rarely looked threatened after Kavanagh's superb finish midway through the first half and were good value for a win that sees them on course for a quick Premier Division return.


A scrappy opening that seemed to favour neither team yielded few chances, but it was Harps who threatened first through striker Boyle.

Referee Derek Tomney played good advantage after Mark Coyle had been upended and Boyle weaved through three challenges, but with just the keeper to beat he stabbed wide.

Harps were guilty of errors of their own at the back and Sean Brennan had already seen a shot saved when Gareth McCaffrey dispossessed Borg on the edge of the box, but he flashed his shot over.

It was to be a costly miss for the striker as the home side went up the other end and led within a matter of 30 seconds.

Mark Timlin beat his man wide on the left and had the presence of mind to pick out Boyle in the box. He laid the ball right to wing-back Kavanagh who planted a firm low show into the far corner.

Drogs looked to respond immediately and there was to be controversy as McCaffrey went over under the challenge of Sam Todd.

The Drogs fans roared for a penalty but Tomney, having taken a moment to gather his thoughts, booked the former Shamrock Rovers striker for diving.

Harps could, and perhaps should, have doubled their advantage shortly after as Boyle slipped in Mikey Place, but the midfielder couldn't quite dink the ball over the advancing Paul Skinner.

And Harps' purple patch continued as Paddy McCourt ran from deep and picked out the run of Boyle on the right, but the former Derry City striker's shot was deflected past the post.

Drogheda finished the half stronger, however, and came very close to levelling when Mark Doyle played the ball low across the six-yard box, but McCaffrey was just unable to turn it inside the post.

That was only a blip as Harps continued their dominance after the break, and should have stretched their lead within five minutes as Keith Cowan knocked down for Boyle, but he fluffed his lines.

Drogs had Skinner to thank next as the keeper showed lightning-quick reflexes to get his hand behind the ball after Boyle get his toe to Timlin's cross.

Timlin saw his shot turned behind by Skinner, and Kavanagh's attempt at a spectacular second landed on the roof of the net, but eventually the dominance told.

Midfielder Coyle won possession inside the Drogheda half and opened his body to pick out Boyle in space on the right. The striker dipped inside before curling left-footed past the advancing Skinner.

Harps boss withdrew McCourt – who rolled back the years with a commanding midfield performance – late on with two more play-off games in mind.

Drogheda had a few efforts on goal, mainly from range, as they looked to find their way back into the game but the formidable Harps held firm to set up a two-legged showdown with Limerick.

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Jakob Borg, Sam Todd, Keith Cowan; John Kavnagh, Mark Coyle, Paddy McCourt (Niall Logue 75), Mikey Place (John O'Flynn 90+2), Ciaran Coll; Mark Timlin,  Nathan Boyle (Jesse Devers 79).

Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Colm Deasy (Rob Manley 65), Luke Gallagher, Kevin Farragher, Conor Kane; Sean Brennan, Richie Purdy, William Hondermarck (Lee Duffy 59) Ciaran Kelly; Mark Doyle, Gareth McCaffrey (Janabi Amour 71).

Referee: Derek Tomney.