CIARON HARKIN’S hat-trick fired Derry City to derby delight against Finn Harps at the Brandywell.
Derry City 4 Finn Harps 0
Report by Chris McNulty at The Brandywell. Pictures by JP Photography
A superb Harkin free kick, for Derry’s second goal late in the first half, had Declan Devine’s men on their way to a first win in five.
Harkin put the result beyond any doubt 23 minutes from time with his second and the Creggan man took the match ball when he clipped home in added time.
Leading through Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe’s 32nd minute opener, Harkin and Derry effectively wrapped the win up a minute before half-time.
Ogedi-Uzokwe – on loan at Derry from Colchester United – was needlessly taken down by Caolan McAleer and Ciaron Harkin curled a delightful free kick right into the top corner of Peter Burke’s net.
Harps were, in many ways, architects of their own downfall here. Having conceded a penalty and a free kick for the opening two goals, Harps gave away possession in their own box in the 67th minute and Harkin steered into the bottom corner.
Harkin was left all on his own and he made no mistake with the finish for Derry’s fourth goal, condemning Harps to a defeat that sends them back to the bottom of the table, albeit on goal difference.
In League football, Harps had only ever won once away to Derry – but that win, two years ago, was at Maginn Park in Buncrana. The 68th derby went the way of the majority of the others with Derry claiming the upper hand on their north west foes.
Derry had big claims for a penalty 13 minutes into the second half with Ogedi-Uzokwe again at the centre of things. Ogedi-Uzokwe went down under a challenge by Sam Todd but, amid the howls of the Brandywell crowd, Derry were denied.
In the same play, Ogedi-Uzokwe saw a close-range effort taken from the goal line by Todd.
A lukewarm opening was broken when Derry hit the front on 32 minutes. David Parkhouse went to ground under pressure from Daniel O’Reilly and Tomás Connolly, the referee, pointed to the spot. The decision left Ollie Horgan, the Harps manager, livid in his technical area.
Ogedi-Uzokwe’s penalty was saved by Burke, but the Derry winger tucked in from the rebound with the Harps ‘keeper disappointed not to have held onto the initial attempt.
Derry thought they had doubled their advantage when Ogedi-Uzokwe skilfully finished, but he was penalised for a high foot.
Harps had fashioned a couple of promising moments just prior to the breakthrough.
Mark Russell forced a corner after Colm Deasy’s dangerous header across the penalty box found him in space, while O’Reilly saw a header cleared by Eoin Toal with the hosts’ defence all at sea as they dealt with a Tony McNamee long throw.
Harps suffered a first defeat in five on Monday night when losing 3-0 to Shamrock Rovers.
Horgan’s roster showed four changes with Keith Cowan, McNamee, Raffaele Cretaro and Sean Boyd all elevated to the starting XI.
Until the reversal to Rovers, Harps were unbeaten in four – taking eight points from those games having finally found a little rhythm.
Derry fired an early warning when Josh Kerr shot over after Burke saved from Greg Sloggett.
Just three minutes in, Burke held well from Jamie McDonagh’s powerful drive into the danger zone.
Derry had 24 hours less to prepare for the derby having lost to St Patrick’s Athletic on Tuesday night in Inchicore.
Barry McNamee, Derry’s captain, was restored to Declan Devine’s team here, as were Kerr and McDonagh as the Candystripes sought to arrest a poor sequence that had yielded just one win from their previous seven.
From the moment Ogedi-Uzokwe opened the scoring, Derry never looked in any danger and Harkin eased them clear with a classy treble.
Derry City: Peter Cherrie; Jamie McDonagh, Eoin Toal, Josh Kerr, Ciaran Coll; Greg Sloggett, Gerardo Bruna (Shane McNamee 80), Ciaron Harkin, Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe; Barry McNamee (Jack Malone 76), David Parkhouse (Aidy Delap 73).
Finn Harps:Peter Burke; Daniel O’Reilly, Keith Cowan, Sam Todd; Colm Deasy (Nathan Boyle 56), Tony McNamee (Jacob Borg 56), Raffaele Cretaro (Mikey Place 75), Mark Coyle, Mark Russell; Caolan McAleer; Sean Boyd.
Referee: Tomás Connolly.
Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years’ experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.