A hat trick from Carndonagh man Cathal Farren got Derry City Reserves back to winning ways tonight against Finn Harps Reserves in the 4 Lanterns Ulster Senior League.
Finn Harps Reserves 1 Derry City Reserves 3
At a chilly Finn Park, Farren proved red hot with a deadly treble to secure the win for Hugh Harkin’s men in the first meeting of these teams since Harps’ recent return to the Ulster Senior League.
The Inishowen teenager netted on 19, 43 and 55 minutes to give the Candystripes the three points with Joe Boyle’s battling Harps having gone level through Dylan McCroary on the half-hour.
It was a year to the day yesterday since BJ Banda’s heroics for the Harps first team with that memorable play-off goal against Limerick and the Letterkenny man was called upon for the last half-an-hour here.
Banda did have one attempt that wasn’t far off troubling the target, but Derry had done enough by the time of his introduction to see out the win.
The opening goal came after Derry goalkeeper Dylan Doherty had made a fine save to deny the Harps captain Kealan McDermott. Doherty got down well to block McDermott’s powerful shot and Derry quickly turned the play, the move ending with Farren sweeping past Jamie Bell.
Both sides had their moments early on with Derry going closest when Farren flicked wide from six yards after getting a toe onto a dangerous free from the left-hand side.
Harps left-back Nathan Clifford opened the possibilities when he slalomed his way through, but the end product was a shot to nothing.
Harps had a timid penalty claim waved away when Luke Nelis went down under the challenge of Doherty, but Harps drew level when McCroary curled home into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Derry hit the front again two minutes before the break when Farren wonderfully controlled Shane McNamee’s pass on his chest before riffling past Bell from 12 yards.
Gareth Doherty curled a free off target for the hosts and, on the blow of Marty Quinn’s half-time whistle, Alex Carolan blasted into the side netting after taking control of McCroary’s ball across.
Both sides came into the game on the back of heavy losses, Derry having been beaten 5-1 at Cockhill last Sunday on a day when Harps went down 4-0 to Fanad in Triagh-A-Loch.
But Derry moved into a position of real authority when Farren turned home in style after Stephen Duffy made the incision down the right channel.
McNamee teed up Matt Doherty for a chance, but he couldn’t keep his shot down, while Harps saw Luke Nelis denied by replacement goalkeeper Mark McElhinney, who turned his free-kick around the post.
Finn Harps: Jamie Bell; Liam Doherty (Ryan Finn 62)), Ciaran Kelly, Paul Ferry, Nathan Clifford; Alex Carolan, Kealan McDermott, Jeaic Mac Ceallabhuí (Aaron McCready 62), Luke Nelis; Dylan McCroary (BJ Banda 62), Gareth Doherty.
Derry City Reserves: Dylan Doherty (Mark McElhinney half-time); Paul Doherty (Sean McBride 56), Sam Todd, Lee McColgan; Adrian Delap, Dean Power, Shane McNamee, Matt Doherty, Sean Toland (Matthew Duffy 75); Cathal Farren, Stephen Duffy.