Result: Finn Harps 1-0 Limerick
Goal: Paddy McCourt (pen)
Report from Stuart Connolly from Finn Park
Finn Harps secured a narrow advantage heading into the second leg of the SSE Airtricity League Play-off final against Limerick.
Just like the 2015 final between these two, the game ended 1-0 to the hosts in the first leg. Paddy McCourt scored from the spot on 36 minutes in his final home appearance for Finn Harps to give the Donegal side a slight edge ahead of Fridays game in Limerick.
The game started in an open fashion with both sides eager to gain an early advantage. Shane Duggan was the first player to have a pop at goal but fired just over after eight minutes.
Three minutes later Conor Ellis had a fantastic opportunity to open the scoring after a mix-up in the Harps defence. Ellis rounded Peter Burke but left himself with a narrow angle and his pass towards goal struck the post.
Jesse Devers had a few long range shots at Limericks goal but couldn’t muster up anything to test Tommy Holland. Devers did however have a hand in Harps taking the lead after 36 minutes.
The midfielder was brought down in the area by Kilian Brouder and Paddy McCourt stepped up and placed the spot kick into the bottom right corner. On 40 minutes, Ellis was again denied, a long shot from Shaun Kelly fell at the feet of Ellis but his toe poke towards goal was saved by Burke as Harps lead at the break.
Harps came out in the second half with a lead to protect and they did just that. Limerick had a couple of chances throughout but failed to draw level. Billy Dennehy did well to create a chance for himself shortly after the hour mark, flicking the ball up in the area before hitting it towards goal but it floated wide.
Harps replied with an effort from Devers, a header at the back post after a good cross from Todd on the left but Holland saved, while suffering an injury.
The game witnessed little else as the game edged towards its conclusion barring an effort in the middle of a scramble for Limerick which Ciaran Coll cleared off the line.
Barry Maguire had an effort late on which Burke was able to tip over the bar. Seven minutes added time at the end but Harps held on to take a 1-0 lead to Market’s Field on Friday Night.