Finn Harps 1-0 Limerick FC

Finn Harps will take a one-goal lead to Limerick for Friday’s promotion/relegation play-off final second leg, after they beat the Shannonsiders at Finn Park.

Paddy McCourt’s 36th-minute penalty, on his final appearance in Ballybofey, was the only goal of a patchy game.  

Harps, looking to make an immediate return to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division after last year’s relegation were first to threaten here.

Gareth Harkin dodged his way past two Limerick challenges but could only fire wide from the edge of the area.

McCourt, celebrating his 50th appearance for the Donegal side, was at fault for Limerick’s maiden sight at goal.

The Derry man’s lapse in concentration allowed Shane Duggan to assume possession but the Limerick captain’s thumping volley whistled over the Harps crossbar.

A mix-up between Burke and his defenders led to what should have been the opener.

The rookie goalkeeper was badly caught out after he came off his line in an attempt to gather possession. Conor Ellis was on hand to sweep in, but could only knock the ball against the post with the goal at his mercy.

Both Duggan and Harps’ Jesse Devers worked the opposition goalkeeper before the home side took the lead.

Kilian Brouder tripped Devers on his way to goal and, from the subsequent spot-kick, McCourt sent Tommy Holland the wrong way.

Brouder himself turned up a great chance to atone for his error early in the second half, the defender nodding wide at the back stick from Shane Tracy’s set-piece.

The majority of the second period didn’t offer much more in terms of goalscoring opportunities.

But there was some late goal mouth action at the Harps end.  

The First Division outfit had Harkin to thank in the 82nd minute when he took Barry Maguire’s acrobatic effort off his own goal-line, during a sustained period of pressure from Limerick.

Burke then pulled off a superb one-handed stop to deny Maguire’s vicious strike from 20 yards two minutes from time.

Finn Harps: Peter Burke; Jacob Borg, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd; John Kavanagh, Ciaran Coll; Jesse Devers (Niall Logue 89), Gareth Harkin, Paddy McCourt (Timmie Sobowale 77); Mikey Place, Nathan Boyle (John O’Flynn 97).

Limerick: Tommy Holland (Jack Brady 71); Shaun Kelly, Kilian Cantwell, Kilian Brouder, Shane Tracy; Karl O’Sullivan (William Fitzgerald 54), Barry Maguire, Shane Duggan, Cian Coleman, Billy Dennehy; Conor Ellis (Danny Morrisey 80).

Referee: Robert Harvey.