Tunde Owolabi of Finn Harps goes close in the first half against Londg
“We are staying up,” reverberated around Ballybofey early in the second half as the Finn Harps hammered Longford Town and eased their way to safety and therefore avoided the possible pitfalls of the relegation play-off.
Finn Harps 5
Longford Town 0
Goals from Will Seymore’s header, a Ryan Connolly rasper, a Karl O’Sullivan shot that took a huge spooning deflection meant Harps were 3-0 up just before the 50th minute and the chant went out. Tunde Owolabi’s fourth soon followed and Luke Rudden added his first goal for the club two minutes into injury time when Lee Steacy couldn’t keep his shot out following a pass from O’Sullivan.
The nuts and bolts of it means it’ll be Waterford FC who run the gauntlet with UCD for the last top flight spot for 2022.
It was a joyous night where Harps' two victorious National League of Ireland Cup winning sides - U-14s and U-15s - were paraded at half-time, as was the club and indeed the club and the league’s record goalscorer, Brendan Bradley.
Ollie Horgan’s team knew three points would almost certainly keep them afloat - barring a near double-digit Waterford victory over St Patrick’s Athletic.
In the sixth minute, from a Connolly corner, Ethan Boyle got in ahead of Joe Manley only to see his stooped header go wide. O’Sullivan curled a brilliant effort from 25 yards on the 15th minute that had Steacy beaten all ends up, only for the ball to strike the inside of the post and it was Longford who gobbled up the rebound to clear.
The siege continued. Thirty seconds later, Longford half-cleared a Dave Webster throw-in and from the edge of the penalty area, Barry McNamee’s shot through a crowded penalty area took a deflection on the way through and Steacy made a fine instinctive save.
Jordan Mustoe, the Harps left-back, struck an ambitious effort from all of 35 yards that wasn’t that far wide. Then, though, the opening goal changed the entire atmosphere.
Seymore’s close range header on 28 came after a stream of Harps chances - a corner was well-worked between Connolly and O’Sullivan, with McNamee’s shot from the edge of the area skewing into the path of Seymore to nod home, down low.
Then, five minutes later, Connolly added a peach of a second with a glorious half-volley from 20 yards as a headed flick-on from Webster from Boyle’s throw-in fell his way. It was one of those strikes that was destined for the net as soon as it left his right boot.
The home side were forced to plan without the suspended Sean Boyd - who scored twice at St Pat’s a week beforehand - as well as Ryan Rainey and Kosovar Sadiki, who was sent off at Richmond Park.
Goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley picked up a quad muscle injury in Inchicore so the experienced Gerard Doherty came in between the sticks. However, it mattered little as they ran in their biggest win of the season.
Five minutes into the second half, it was 3-0 when Aaron Robinson was caught in possession by Mark Coyle and O’Sullivan’s shot took an upward deflection off Aaron O’Driscoll to completely wrongfoot the luckless Steacy.
Then, on the hour-mark it was four, when Connolly played a simple ball forward, which was missed by two visiting defenders and Owolabi stole in to plant his shot into the bottom corner having cut in on his right foot.
The last half an hour or so was devoid of any major incident and few had any issue with that before Rudden popped up to complete the rout with a fifth.
Harps had been taken close enough to the wire, but managed to avoid it in the end pretty comfortably.
Finn Harps: Gerard Doherty; Ethan Boyle, Dave Webster, Shane McEleney, Jordan Mustoe (Johnny Dunleavy half-time); Karl O’Sullivan, Ryan Connolly, Mark Coyle, Will Seymore (Dan Hawkins 83); Barry McNamee (Mark Timlin 77); Tunde Owolabi (Luke Rudden 89).
Longford Town: Lee Steacy; Shane Elworthy (Michael McDonnell half-time), Aaron Robinson, Joe Manley, Paddy Kirk; Aodh Dervin (Matthew O’Brien 69); Dean Williams (Aaron Dobbs 69), Darragh Nugent (Dean Zambara 55), Conor Davis (Aaron McNally 55); Rob Manley.
Referee: John McLoughlin.
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