Cabo put in a spirited second half performance to get themselves back into the game and cause nervy moments for Finn Harps but in the end, overcoming the three goals conceded in the first half proved a bridge too far.
Eddie Gormley had a depleted squad for the game with third placed Finn Harps due to both suspensions and injuries. Top scorers John McKeown and Sodiq Oguntola were both suspended as was vice-captain and defensive rock Victor Ekanem. Full backs Jamie McGlynn, Lloyd Cairns and Dan Campbell missed the game through injury, however it was promising to see both McGlynn and Campbell warming up before the game suggesting they are both close to a return following lengthy injuries. Goalkeeper Evan Moran departed the club during the week after being offered a scholarship to play for the Akron Zips in the University of Akron, Ohio. Cabo schoolboy Cathal Gillen made his debut in net for Cabinteely and Sean Burke made his first start for the club in a number of changes to the side that lost 3-2 to Wexford Youths.
Finn Harps started on top and had half chances within the first couple of minutes that were warning signs of the damage they could do. They didn’t have to wait long for their breakthrough however as they were awarded a penalty in the 9th minute when Gillen collided with Funston. With Gillen being the last man, there was worries that the goalkeeper would receive his marching orders but referee John McLaughlin felt the penalty was punishment enough and didn’t give the goalkeeper a card. McHugh duly converted the penalty low and hard into the bottom left corner leaving Gillen with no chance.
Finn Harps didn’t settle for their goal and continued to press to try and extend their lead. They doubled their lead through McHugh, his second of the evening, his shot from inside the box finding it’s way into the bottom corner. Cabinteely soon found themselves facing into a three goal deficit when Gillen was caught in possession by Boyle who finished into the open net.
Cabo’s only real chance of the half fell to Richie Purdy who latched on to Stephen Dunne’s flick on but the centre mid saw his shot well saved by Gallagher in the Finn Harps goal.
At half time, you would have been forgiven for thinking that this game as a contest was over, Gormley made changes in personnel and in tactics for the second half as Cabo looked to get back in the game. Cabo changed from a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 with Conor Foley coming on for Sean Burke, Foley played in behind Durrad while Dunne moved out to the right wing.
Perhaps at 3 nil down this Cabo side felt they had nothing to lose but they began to play some good football and fight themselves back into the game. They got their opener from Karl Byrne. The right back went on a mazy run before hitting a left footed curling effort from outside the box that found itself into the bottom corner, a brilliant finish from the defender and his first for the club.
This goal gave the side real belief, with the crowd behind them Cabo went looking for a second. They almost immediately got it but Richie Purdy was denied for the second time of the match, this time by the woodwork. Purdy rose highest to meet a corner but his headed effort crashed off the post and bounced out.
Finn Harps themselves also hit the woodwork as they looked to close out the game and kill off any prospects of a comeback but the next goal in the game came for Cabinteely. Richie Purdy’s free kick into the box was met by Kevin Knight who saw his shot blocked on the line but Conor Foley reacted quickest to turn home the rebound into the roof of the net, Foley’s second goal of the season.
With 3 minutes of added time it was game on and there was whispers in the crowd at Stradbrook questioning could Cabo get an injury time equaliser against Finn Harps for a second time this season but to their credit Finn Harps expertly ran down the clock, winning six corners in a row to see out the game and take the full three points back to Ballybofey. This was a crucial win for Harps, a big night in their push for promotion with fellow contenders UCD dropping points.
The first half had left Cabinteely with a mountain to climb but they showed great fight and character to get back into the game so there is real positives to take from the game which is important as they look to fend off the threat of a resurgent 8th place Waterford United in the remaining games of the season. Next up for Cabo is Shelbourne away, please note that due to the International fixtures this week, this game is on Saturday the 5th of September rather than the Friday. Kick off is 19:45 at Tolka Park!
All photos courtesy of photographer Paul Lundy, to see the full set of photos please see https://flic.kr/s/aHskjgEQy8
Cabinteely: Cathal Gillen; Karl Byrne, Kevin Knight, Edward McDonagh, Josh Quinlavin; Richard Purdy, Aaron Brilly, Sean Burke (Conor Foley 46), Michael Brown (Darren Clarke 83); Peter Durrad, Stephen Dunne (Simon Power 75).
Subs not used: Sean Hyland (gk), Jamie Broderick, Ross Broderick, Stephen Hanley.
Booked: Dunne (13), Byrne (48).
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Damien McNulty, Ciaran Coll, Keith Cowan, Tommy McMonigle; Gareth Harkin, Michael Funston (Wifried Tagbo 81), Raymond Foy, Tony McNamee; Nathan Boyle (Rob Waters 46), Kevin McHugh.
Subs not used: Tommy Lee McCarron (gk), Kieran McDaid, Josh Mailey, Oisin Hassett, Ata Ozbay.
Booked: McMonagle (44), McNamee (69), Cowan (89).