Two second-half goals saw Stephen O'Donnell get his managerial career off to winning start as his St Patrick’s Athletic side came from behind to overcome Finn Harps 2-1 in Ballybofey.
Following last Friday’s postponement due to a waterlogged pitch, the former Dundalk captain saw his talented team have plenty of the ball, only for Nathan Boyle to put the hosts in front on 31 minutes.
However, with the visitors peppering the Harps goal early in the second half, Darragh Markey managed to level the scores. Then, half-time substitute Rhys McCabe slotted the Dublin team’s second following a defensive blunder from Harps.
After both teams felt their way into the contest, both then saw efforts deflect wide in and around the quarter-hour mark.
Firstly, following a long throw-in from Niall Logue, the ball broke on the edge of the St Pat’s area to Mark Timlin, only to see his effort cannon off target.
That came on 15 minutes and just over a minute later at the other end, Gary Shaw’s strike was partially blocked at the Town End by Sam Todd, flying just inches away from Mark Anthony McGinley’s upright.
The opening goal came against the run of play from a long throw, again, from Logue and as St Pat’s struggled to clear, a header from Keith Cowan was glanced into the path of Boyle by Daniel O’Reilly. Boyle showed quick reaction to prod past Brendan Clarke.
Five minutes later, Boyle would prod the ball past Clarke again, this time in a race for a loose ball following an untidy pass from Ciaran Kelly. Boyle, running at an angle from right to left, got the touch and went to ground after the collision with the goalkeeper.
Referee John McLoughlin opted for yellow over red, presumably due to the fact Boyle was headed away from goal and the ball had actually gone for a throw-in from the Harps striker’s touch.
There was definitely more of a zip to the St Patrick’s Athletic play right from the off in the second half and that was where the foundation for the win was laid.
Harps midfielder Gareth Harkin, on 67 minutes, intercepted a Glen McAuley centre but instead of opting to drive clear, decided to try and take the ball from defence only to be pinched of possession by McCabe, who then rolled the ball into the bottom corner to give his side the lead.
O’Reilly, right on 90 minutes, turned on the edge of the penalty area and curled a shot just wide with Clarke at full stretch.
Finn Harps: Mark Anthony McGinley; Daniel O'Reilly, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd; Jacob Borg (Tony McNamee 84), Mark Coyle, Gareth Harkin (Raff Cretaro 71), Niall Logue; Mark Timlin, Nathan Boyle (Mikey Place 79).
St Patrick's Athletic: Brendan Clarke; Simon Madden, Dave Webster, Lee Desmond, Ian Bermingham; Glen McAuley (Jake Walker 87), Conor Clifford (Rhys McCabe, half-time), Dean Clarke, Ciaran Kelly; Darragh Markey; Gary Shaw (Chris Forrester 76).
Referee: John McLoughlin.