RESULT: Finn Harps 2-0 Drogheda United (3-1 agg)
Goals: Kavanagh, Boyle
Report from Stuart Connolly at Finn Park
Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps will face off with Limerick FC for a spot in the Premier Division after a 2-0 win over Drogheda United at Finn Park, winning 3-1 on aggregate.
Goals from Kavanagh and Boyle were enough to see Harps through to set up a repeat of the 2015 play-off Final which Finn Harps edged in extra time.
With the first leg ending 1-1 at United Park, the second leg was nicely poised for a thrilling encounter between two sides vying to get back to the Premier Division at the first time of asking.
Ciaran Kelly gave Drogheda the lead in that game but saw his strike cancelled out by a goal from Nathan Boyle.
Finn Harps started the stronger side and showed early signs of intent with a couple of half chances. Mikey Place had the best chance after a tricky run into the area but he dragged his shot across goal. Drogheda replied with a couple of set pieces but failed to test Gallagher in goal.
On the 17th minute, Harps took the lead. Mark Timlin made a good run down the left side before cutting in, he hit the ball across goal and the chance looked to be fading away only for Nathan Boyle to lay it off for John Kavanagh who slotted into the bottom left corner for his first league goal for the club.
Boyle again involved not long after, playing a one-two with Place on the edge of the area, Boyle made the run into the box but the onrushing Skinner gathered.
Boyle was determined to get his name in the memory books approaching the half hour mark, being played through by Paddy McCourt, the angle was against him on the right but he had a pop and forced Skinner into a good save.
Drogheda became more and more lively as the game wore on and had a great opportunity to level things before the break. Mark Doyle curled the ball across goal on the right side and Gareth McCaffrey came in sliding at the far post but came up just short as Harps went into the interval with the advantage.
Early in the second half, following a set piece Boyle again went close, the ball dropped kindly for him in the area but he scuffed his shot wide, putting his head in his hands.
Boyle was a man on a mission and again saw an effort saved by Skinner, after some tough tackling on both sides, Boyle had a shot saved at point blank range.
Shy of the hour mark, Harps nearly doubled their lead, firstly Place missed a chance, the clearance by Deasy fell to Coll who laid it off for Timlin who had a go from range but saw his effort saved.
That lead was doubled on 66 minutes, with Boyle finally getting his goal. Mark Coyle played a pass to Boyle on the edge of the area, he fooled the defender, cutting inside before hitting a left foot shot past Skinner.
Looking to get back into the game, Drogheda made some changes, one of those was Lee Duffy, who tried is luck from range and forced Gallagher into a strong save.
Late in the game Drogheda had a number of set pieces, one of which led to a huge goalmouth scramble which involved Skinner, but the home defence stood firm.
Eager to run down the clock late on, any and all Harps players were simply putting all their power behind their clearances.
Adding to the late drama, Coll cleared an effort off the line from Ciaran Kelly, ensuring another clean sheet stayed intact.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher; Mark Coyle, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd, Ciaran Coll; Jacob Borg, Paddy McCourt, Mark Timlin, John Kavanagh; Mikey Place, Nathan Boyle.
Subs: Niall Logue for McCourt(74 mins), Jesse Devers for Boyle(78 mins), John O’Flynn for Place(90+1 mins)
Drogheda United: Paul Skinner; Colm Deasy, Conor Kane, Kevin Farragher, Luke Gallagher; Richie Purdy, Sean Brennan, Mark Doyle, William Hondermarck; Gareth McCaffrey, Ciaran Kelly.
Subs: Lee Duffy for Hondermarck (58 mins), Robert Manley for Deasy (65 mins), Janabi Amour for McCaffrey (70).
Man Of The Match: Nathan Boyle – He was a constant thorn in the side of the Drogheda players throughout, creating several chances and capped it off with a well deserved, well taken goal in the second half.