Rovers come from behind to force draw with Harps

Letterkenny Rovers salvaged a draw from the jaws of defeat against Finn Harps Reserves at Finn Park on Tuesday night.
Finn Harps Reserves 3 Letterkenny Rovers 3
In a goal-crazy opening to the second half, five of the goals came in a 19-minute spell.
Just when it seemed as if Aaron McCready’s brace was sending Harps on their way to a win, Eamon McConigley’s side struck twice, through Darren McElwaine and David Shovlin, to get a share of the spoils.
Trailing 3-1, they pulled a goal back on 65 minutes when McElwaine tucked home after Shovlin had been denied from an Odhrán McMackin cross.
Within four minutes they were level as Shovlin finished well after a diagonal ball over the top from Chris Flanagan caught the Harps rearguard out.
Raphoe man McCready scored twice in a five-minute spell early in the second half to fire Harps well ahead in the Ballybofey chill.
Harps had trailed to McElwaine’s first-half opener before McCready’s double sent them on their way.
Former Rovers player Gareth Doherty stretched the lead just after the hour mark, only for McElwaine’s second of the night to reduce the arrears.
And the Cathedral town men drew level when substitute Shovlin netted, but the draw means that Rovers are six points behind League leaders Cockhill, who have a game less played.
This game was rearranged from Thursday night when, as a mark of respect to the late Annie Friel, the grandmother of Rovers ‘keeper Sean Friel, the fixture was called off.
Rovers began the brighter, with Steve Okakpu-Emeka firing into the hands of Harps netminder Jamie Bell, who was busy in the early exchanges.
Flanagan’s free invited Conor Tourish to have a go, but his header flew over the top while McElwaine’s touch to a Christy Connaghan cross was just too heavy to trouble Bell.
James Carolan stemmed the flow with a shot at the other end, but Connaghan – an ex-Harps player – drilled wide from distance.
Rovers hit the front on 23 minutes when McElwaine steered home from point-blank range after Flanagan and Odhrán McMackin did the spadework.
The young Harps kept fighting and Doherty’s cross deflected off Declan O’Donnell, but didn’t trouble Sean Friel.
The 20-minute goal fest began when McCready’s flicked header from Ryan Finn’s cross deflected past Friel.
Harps led five minutes later when McCready ghosted in to finish from Finn’s cross.
Harps were in the ascendancy now and Niall McGinley’s dangerous cross wasn’t held by Friel, but Rovers managed to clear their lines.
However, Doherty put Harps 3-1 in front. Carolan’s wonderful touch set up Doherty after Luke Nelis’ ball got beyond Ryan Gildea and Doherty’s 20-yard effort deceived Friel and left Rovers stunned.
Within six minutes, however, McConigley’s men were in front thanks to McElwaine and Shovlin.
Harps might have won it, but Doherty’s curler was inches wide and nestled in the side-netting.
Finn Harps Reserves: Jamie Bell; Paul Ferry, Ciaran Kelly (Niall McGinley 34), Liam Doherty, Nathan Clifford; Luke Nelis, Keelan McDermott, Aaron McCready, Ryan Finn (Ryan Doran 88); James Carolan (Michael Gallagher 83), Gareth Doherty.
Letterkenny Rovers: Sean Friel; Ryan Lonergan, Conor Tourish (Paul McVeigh 60), Declan O’Donnell, Ryan Gildea; Chris Flanagan, Odhrán McMacken (Paddy Diver 78), Kevin McGrath, Christy Connaghan; Darren McElwaine, Steve Okakpu-Emeka (David Shovlin 60).
Referee: Vincent McLoughlin.


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