Finn Harps started their league campaign in ideal fashion as they overcame neighbours Sligo Rovers in a north west derby at Finn Park.
Karl O’Sullivan poked home what was to be the winner in the 56th minute against a Sligo outfit who ran out of ideas early on.
With five debutants in their starting side, it was Harps who threatened first during an opening half that lacked in terms of much excitement.
O’Sullivan, who netted two memorable goals for Limerick at the Showgrounds last year, flashed an effort across the face of the Sligo goal after five minutes. Sam Todd wasn’t far off Raff Cretaro’s chipped set piece which sneaked past Ed McGinty’s far post.
Liam Buckley gave four Rovers players their first outing in the Bit O’Red and two of those men combined for the visitors’ first sight at goal on 21.
Teemu Penninkangas steering Darragh Noone’s cross into the path of David Cawley. The Sligo skipper crowded out however before he could apply a telling touch.
Harps’ reigning player of the year Mark McGinley was called into action soon after.
Ronan Coughlan’s quick free set another Sligo new boy, Garry Buckley down the right side but goalkeeper McGinley was observant in rushing off his line before Buckley could steady himself. The Cork man’s attempted lob easily caught mid-air.
This league fixture has never produced a scoreless draw in Ballybofey and that record was guaranteed to run on 11 minutes into the second half when Ollie Horgan’s men hit the lead.
From a corner, Dave Webster nodded Mark Colye’s cross into the mixer where O’Sullivan held off a group of Rovers players to prod the ball past a sprawling McGinty,
Rovers remained wanting in the final third and Coughlan fired over the Harps crossbar on 65 after a punt forward from his back-line opened up space for the striker.
The home side were then somewhat fortunate to end the game with their full compliment when Coyle smashed into and sent Danny Kane sprawling in front of the travelling support. Harps hearts were in their in mouths as referee Damien McGraith took his time to only show Coyle yellow.
Coming away from this game with anything would have been kind on Sligo and McGinley effectively ensured the points for the Donegal side in added time. The Ards man rushing out to meet Ronan Murray’s driven effort from the angle after Cawley had sent his fellow county man through on goal.
Finn Harps: Mark McGinley; Kosavar Sadiki, Shane McEleney, Sam Todd; David Webster, Mark Russell; Gareth Harkin, Mark Coyle (Ruairi Harkin 85), Ryan Connolly; Raff Cretaro (Barry McNamee 71); Karl O’Sullivan.
Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Danny Kane, Will Seymour, Kyle Callan-McFadden; Darragh Noone, Teemu Penninkangas; Niall Morahan, David Cawley; Garry Buckley (Jesse Devers 77); Ronan Murray, Ronan Coughlan.
Referee: Damien MacGraith.