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Connolly's early strike sinks Saints

FAI Cup: Finn Harps 1-0 St Pat's Ath

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CUP EXIT: Robbie Benson

CUP EXIT: Robbie Benson

SPORTSFILE

CUP EXIT: Robbie Benson

Ryan Connolly's fourth-minute goal fired Finn Harps into the next round of the FAI Cup at the expense of St Patrick's Athletic last night.

A handful of eager St Pat's supporters made the trip to Ballybofey and watched from behind the fence at the River End of the ground. The loyal Saints opted against streaming the tie via WatchLOI, but looked on in frustration as their side limped out of the Cup.

Owing to the crowd restrictions, Harps are only able to accommodate around 50 season-ticket holders. Their fans who watched from the other side of the fence went into the night content at a first post-lockdown win.

Conor Kearns was given his Pat's debut but, just four minutes in, the Irish U21 international was involved in a mix-up with Rory Feely. Both went to deal with Karl O'Sullivan's delivery, neither did successfully and Connolly capitalised to give Harps the lead.

Kearns did well to get his fingertips to Stephen Folan's 12th minute free kick with Harps going about their early buiness with a real purpose.

Pat's, though, soon warmed to the task. Harps 'keeper Mark Anthony McGinley held a long-range drive by Dan Ward before being tested by Martin Rennie's free-kick.

Pat's boss Stephen O'Donnell made five changes from the side that defeated Harps in the League on Friday night at Richmond Park. Donegal man Georgie Kelly, who scored both goals in the 2-0 win, was among those to make way.

Darragh Markey tried his luck late in the half, but his low attempt from 20 yards failed to trouble McGinley.

Eight minutes into the second half, O'Donnell sent Kelly, Chris Forrester and Robbie Benson in a bid to add a spark that was notable by its absence.

Benson tested McGinley soon after his introduction but Harps held on in a second half of few chances to get their name into the hat for tomorrow's draw.

FINN HARPS: McGinley; Webster, Sadiki, Folan, Todd; O'Sullivan, R.Harkin (Coyle 78), Donnellan, Delap; Connolly (T McNamee 88); Cretaro (Russell 69).

ST PAT'S: Kearns; Titov (Doona 78), Feely, Ward (Benson 53), Bermingham; Lennon, McNally, Gibson, McClelland; Markey (Forrester 53); Rennie (Kelly 53).

REF: N Doyle