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Watch: Paddy McCourt scores in final home game to give Finn Harps play-off advantage

Finn Harps 1-0 Limerick

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Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt celebrates scoring from the spot.

Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt celebrates scoring from the spot.

©INPHO/Lorcan Doherty

Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt celebrates scoring from the spot.

Paddy McCourt scored in his final home game for Finn Harps to give his First Division side he edge in the first leg of a tense promotion-relegation play-off first leg in Ballybofey.

McCourt hit the only goal of the game as Harps take a priceless win into Friday's return leg in Limerick.

McCourt is hanging up his boots at the end of the season to take up a new role as Head of Academy at Derry City.

The former Celtic winger stepped up to convert a 36th minute penalty after Jesse Devers had his heels clipped by Killian Brouder. McCourt coolly stroked the ball past Tommy Holland to delight the majority of the 2,379 in attendance.

 

Eight minutes into the second half, Nathan Boyle drew a good save from Holland as Harps set about doubling their lead.

Limerick were dealt a blow 19 minutes from the end when goalkeeper Holland was carried off on a stretcher.

It meant both sides were down their first choice 'keepers.

Harps were without Ciaran Gallagher, whose season has been ended by a knee ligament injury. The absence of Gallagher, with 14 clean sheets behind him during Harps’ surge for promotion, left Harps without one of their most experienced men.

Mark Timlin failed a late fitness test and a suspension kept Mark Coyle out.

The injury list certainly rocked Harps and Conor Ellis almost turned an early screw on the home side. After beating Peter Burke - Gallagher’s replacement in goal - in a race for possession, Ellis shot against the post.

Moments earlier, an effort by Limerick skipper Shane Duggan rose just too much, but it was a clear indication of intent from the Shannonsiders - who had just three wins in their last 13 League games.

Devers forced Holland into a save before McCourt put the home side in front and they held on in spite of strong pressure.

This was a repeat of the 2015 play-off between these sides, when BJ Banda netted a late winner in extra time to send Harps into the top flight.

Limerick launched a late bid to draw level and Barry Maguire’s header was cleared off the line by Gareth Harkin.

Derry Pele: Paddy McCourt's career in pictures as Celtic hero approaches retirement [Photos] Close

Paddy McCourt celebrates Finn Harps' promotion back to the top flight after the final match on his playing career.

Paddy McCourt celebrates Finn Harps' promotion back to the top flight after the final match on his playing career.

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

SSE Airtricity League First Division Promotion/Relegation Play-off Series Final Second Leg, Market's Field, Limerick 2/11/2018
Limerick vs Finn Harps
Finn Harps’ Paddy McCourt after the game
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

SSE Airtricity League First Division Promotion/Relegation Play-off Series Final Second Leg, Market's Field, Limerick 2/11/2018 Limerick vs Finn Harps Finn Harps’ Paddy McCourt after the game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Paddy McCourt reacts after being taken off with an injury in his final match.

Paddy McCourt reacts after being taken off with an injury in his final match.

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Paddy McCourt in action in his final game.

Paddy McCourt in action in his final game.

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

SSE Airtricity League First Division Promotion/Relegation Play-off Series Final Second Leg, Market's Field, Limerick 2/11/2018
Limerick vs Finn Harps
Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt in the dugout
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

SSE Airtricity League First Division Promotion/Relegation Play-off Series Final Second Leg, Market's Field, Limerick 2/11/2018 Limerick vs Finn Harps Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt in the dugout Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt walks out for his last game
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt walks out for his last game Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt warms up for his final game.

Finn Harps' Paddy McCourt warms up for his final game.

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

Paddy McCourt's hair reached its peak during his spell at Derry City.

Paddy McCourt's hair reached its peak during his spell at Derry City.

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

FAI Carlsberg Cup Final 3/12/2006
Derry City vs Saint Patrick's Athletic
Pat McCourt of Derry gets away from his marker
Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

FAI Carlsberg Cup Final 3/12/2006 Derry City vs Saint Patrick's Athletic Pat McCourt of Derry gets away from his marker Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

©INPHO/Donall Farmer

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 11:  Paddy McCourt of Celtic celebrates after scoring during the Clydesdale Bank Premier League  match between Celtic and Hearts at Celtic Park on September 11, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland.  (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - SEPTEMBER 11: Paddy McCourt of Celtic celebrates after scoring during the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Celtic and Hearts at Celtic Park on September 11, 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Celtic's Paddy McCourt celebrates the opening goal during the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow.

Celtic's Paddy McCourt celebrates the opening goal during the Clydesdale Bank Scottish Premier League match at Celtic Park, Glasgow.

Lynne Cameron

Despite his wonderful skills Paddy McCourt failed to secure a regular starting place at Celtic

Despite his wonderful skills Paddy McCourt failed to secure a regular starting place at Celtic

Lynne Cameron

Paddy McCourt

Paddy McCourt

Paddy McCourt savours scoring for Northern Ireland against the Faroe Islands

Paddy McCourt savours scoring for Northern Ireland against the Faroe Islands

©William Cherry/Presseye

Golden night: Paddy McCourt celebrates his brace against the Faroes in August 2011

Golden night: Paddy McCourt celebrates his brace against the Faroes in August 2011

Brian Little

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 11:  Paddy McCourt (L) of Northern Ireland competes Frodi Benjaminsen of Faroe Islands (R) during the Euro 2016 Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Faroe Islands at Windsor Park on October 11, 2014 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.  (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND - OCTOBER 11: Paddy McCourt (L) of Northern Ireland competes Frodi Benjaminsen of Faroe Islands (R) during the Euro 2016 Qualifier between Northern Ireland and Faroe Islands at Windsor Park on October 11, 2014 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. (Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images)

Getty Images

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Paddy McCourt of Brighton attacks past Jordan Bowery of Rotherham during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Rotherham United at The Amex Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

BRIGHTON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 25: Paddy McCourt of Brighton attacks past Jordan Bowery of Rotherham during the Sky Bet Championship match between Brighton & Hove Albion and Rotherham United at The Amex Stadium on October 25, 2014 in Brighton, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Far right is  Celtic and Northern Ireland footballer Paddy McCourt  among the Foyle Harps team from 1992 Mallusk NI U-11 Tournament  Winners? Picture kindly submitted by Liam Quinn

Far right is Celtic and Northern Ireland footballer Paddy McCourt among the Foyle Harps team from 1992 Mallusk NI U-11 Tournament Winners? Picture kindly submitted by Liam Quinn

In March 2015, McCourt played for a Derry City Select against a Northern Ireland Select in the Mark Farren Fund Match by Derry boss Kenny Shiels opted against signing the local man, paving the way for his move to Glenavon.

In March 2015, McCourt played for a Derry City Select against a Northern Ireland Select in the Mark Farren Fund Match by Derry boss Kenny Shiels opted against signing the local man, paving the way for his move to Glenavon.

Lorcan Doherty

Moving on: Paddy McCourt has struggled to adjust to life with the Lurgan Blues and will weigh up his options

Moving on: Paddy McCourt has struggled to adjust to life with the Lurgan Blues and will weigh up his options

McCourt helped Glenavon win the Charity Shield against Crusaders. 
Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

McCourt helped Glenavon win the Charity Shield against Crusaders. Picture by Jonathan Porter/Press Eye

Paddy McCourt could make his final appearance for Finn Harps tonight.

Paddy McCourt could make his final appearance for Finn Harps tonight.

©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Paddy McCourt celebrates Finn Harps' promotion back to the top flight after the final match on his playing career.

 

Burke saved wonderfully from Maguire to preserve the advantage, but this one remains on a knife edge.

Harps: Burke; Borg, Cowan, Todd; Kavanagh, Devers (Logue 89), McCourt (Sobowale 77), Harkin, Coll; Place, Boyle (O'Flynn 97).

Limerick: Holland (Brady 71); Kelly, Cantwell, Brouder, Tracy; Duggan, Coleman, Dennehy, O’Sullivan (W Fitzgerald 54); Ellis (Morrissey 79); Maguire.  Ref - R Harvey.

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