Drogheda United have completed the re-signing of defender Lloyd Buckley, who will be eligible for Friday’s First Division league opener ...Thu, Feb 22 2018
An all-Premier Division tie in the FAI Cup on Friday night awaits at Finn Park as Finn Harps entertain Bohemians (kick-off 8pm).
Despite doubts over a number of players, Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan is relishing the challenge of this Friday night’s big FAI Cup first round clash against Bohemians in Ballybofey.
Horgan has confirmed that the versatile Gareth Harkin will be missing due to a back injury while Danny Morrissey is still recovering from the hamstring problem that forced him off when Harps beat Bohs 2-1 at Finn Park in the league last month.
Talisman Eddie Dsane is a big doubt after an illness that kept the in-form striker in hospital last weekend and Pascal Millen picked up a groin strain in training on Wednesday night.
Horgan knows what it’s like to have an injury-ravaged squad and suspensions but he cut a relaxed figure when talking about the injuries in his pre-match press conference.
“We’ve been here before in terms of a number of injuries but the lads are still looking forward to the different challenge of a cup game,” he told the club's media team.
“Bohs are a very good side so I know the challenge is big but we have to bounce back after the disappointing defeat in the league to Galway last Friday night.”
The Harps boss says Bohemians are a side that are well capable of defeating the top teams in the Premier Division.
“Bohs proved their pedigree by the two wins they had against Cork City and Shamrock Rovers in quick succession.
“They are still well enough positioned to have a go at getting a place in Europe. I have no doubt as well that Keith Long and Trevor Croly will be looking at getting a run in the FAI Cup.”
Speaking on his side’s chances, Horgan knows home advantage may give his side the edge.
“We have a great opportunity with home advantage to progress but it will be mighty tough against Bohs who will punish us if we’re not at the top of our game. Derek Pender didn’t play against us in the last game in Ballybofey and will be a huge asset to them.”
On the Gypsies potent attacking players, the Harps gaffer told the club’s official website:
“They have serious threat in attack with the likes of Dinny Corcoran who put them ahead at Finn Park when we met last month.
“George Poynton and Keith Ward are quality players that we need to close down. Akinade is a real handful up front and we very lucky to hold on for the win against them after he came on as a sub.
“There is no replay so it really sets it for a potentially very entertaining and competitive cup game”
Keith Long has warned Bohemians that they will need to deliver a maximum performance to progress in the FAI Cup.
Ballybofey hasn't always been a happy hunting ground for Bohs but with replays done away with this season until the quarter-final stage, Long feels there is a clarity to their objective tomorrow.
"It's a one-off tie,” said Long. “No replay is unusual and something we haven't experienced in the FAI Cup. But that brings clarity to the situation too. It's going to be a real battle and we will be up for it.
"It's one of the toughest draws, one of the toughest opponents. There will be a big crowd behind Harps.”
Assessing the game, the ex-Athlone Town manager told the media in the pre-match press conference:
"We're going there as underdogs. Harps will be favourites, although Ollie Horgan will say differently."
Bohs have been in great form in the league with seven points from their last three games but nobody is getting carried away.
Long said: "We know what to expect now after being up there (Finn Park) last month.
"They're a good team with some excellent players. We know what's in store for us. They will be hungry and we have to match that.
"We'll go there with an attacking mindset but the players need to channel their energy. It's a one-off tie, so we can't have anyone having an off-day.”
He also said that if his side play the same on Friday as they did in the league defeat to Harps last month, his charges will find themselves out of the cup for this year.
"There's confidence in the team but we have to perform to the maximum.
"If we play like we did the last time in Ballybofey, we will come away with nothing. If we play like we have over the course of our last three games, we will give ourselves a chance."
Bohs' confidence levels received a further lift today when Fuad Sule was named the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland Player of the Month for July.
The 20-year-old who, alongside Warren O'Hora and Oscar Brennan, last week signed a new contract to remain at the club until the end of next season hasn't looked back since breaking into the first team in April.
But his performances in the memorable victories against Shamrock Rovers and Cork City last month stood out in particular.
Long added: "We are really pleased for Fuad. It's a personal accolade that he deserves for the impact he's made since coming into the team but it's also recognition for the efforts of his team-mates too."
Referee: Paul McLaughlin
Bohemians have played Finn Harps in Ballybofey three times since they returned to the Premier Division, in 2015, drawing once and losing 2-0 and 2-1 in the second and third meeting respectively.
In the two meetings in the league between the sides, Bohs have won one, 2-0 in Dalymount and Harps have won one, 2-1 in Finn Park.
Last five games in the league: Finn Harps LWLWW and Bohemians DWWDL
Bohs have the third best away record in the league so far, behind Cork and Dundalk.
Finn Harps 13/8; Draw 23/10; Bohemians 6/4.
Finn Harps 1-2 Bohemians
Injured: Danny Morrissey (hamstring), Gareth Harkin (back).
Doubtful: Eddie Dsane (illness), Pascal Millen (groin).
Suspended: Damien McNulty.
Injured: Dan Casey (ankle), Greg Murray (hand), Eoin Wearen (knee).