Finn Harps make the long trip down south from Ballybofey to face Stephen Henderson’s Cobh Ramblers side in the SSE Airtricity League First Division at St Colman’s Park. Kick-Off is at 7.45 pm on Saturday evening.
Cobh Ramblers will look to build on their solid opening start to the season with a positive result at home to Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps side after picking up a very encouraging four points from a possible six on two away trips against both Longford Town and Cabinteely respectively.
With manager Stephen Henderson having to miss out on seeing his side secure a dramatic EA Sports Cup penalty shootout victory away to Wexford FC at Ferrycarrig Park on Monday night with a back issue, “Hendo” will surely have been pleased with the character shown by the Rams in his absence.
With this game evoking memories of the highly competitive nature of the rivalry back in 2007 and 2008, Ramblers hero Davin O’Neill knows the importance of the game having played in it with distinction during his spell at the Rams.
Speaking with the Cobh Ramblers FC official website he said;
“Without a doubt they were always hard-fought games against Harps down the years. I remember watching a tape when I was younger of the 1983 FAI Cup Quarter Final at home which was against Finn Harps. My Dad and uncle were playing that day, so I grew up hearing all about those matches from a young age and it was Harps who we were directly competing against in 2007 when we won the 1st Division.
“I remember they beat us 1-0 in Ballybofey to go ahead of us by a point at the top with 6 games left to play in the season, that was a big shock to the system as we hadn’t lost a league game in 28 games after losing the first two of the season, we had gone on a great run so it was theirs to lose after that as such.
“Then with two games to go and still a point ahead at the top they played Athlone at home and it was live on TV at the time which I know you wouldn’t see nowadays, they don’t show much 1st Division anymore, but it meant we could keep one eye on it, they drew with Athlone 1-1 and I remember jumping around the sitting room at home as Athlone went 1-0 up – Harps equalised in the 2nd half for the draw which meant we could go top with one game to play as long as we did the business against Monaghan at home.. and we did!”
As of yet, no team news has been released by Cobh Ramblers ahead of their opening home league game of the First Division season at St Colman’s Park.
Finn Harps make the long and arduous 432-kilometre trip down to St Colman’s Park in the hope of registering their first three points of the 2018 First Division campaign against an in-form Cobh Ramblers side.
Having drawn their opening league game against Shelbourne last weekend, Ollie Horgan’s men will surely be looking to go level on points with the Rams having played one game less than their promotion rivals so far.
In their last assignment in the EA Sports Cup against Mayo League, Harps came out on top in a thrilling 4-3 win over their non-league opposition but did make some heavy work for themselves in the last half-hour of the game having been ahead by four goals to nil before Mayo League almost made an almighty comeback against their more distinguished opponents.
Speaking ahead of the game with the club’s official website, manager Ollie Horgan has spoken of his sides need to improve against a “young and committed” Ramblers side.
“Cobh have made a good start to the league with a draw up in Longford and a win last weekend against Cabinteely. Stephen Henderson and Stuart Ashton have done a good job there. They finished third in the First Division two years ago and second last year so that shows the calibre of the squad that they have put together.
“It’s a young team who have lots of energy and are very committed. It has been a gradual development over the past couple of years and I think they will be challenging for promotion again this season. They will be looking to push on with another three points on Saturday night. Paul Hunt is a very good goalkeeper.
“Anthony McAlavey and Darren Murphy are two talented lads in midfield. We’re going to have improve a lot on our performance against Shelbourne and if we defend like we did against Mayo on Monday then it will be a long night for us.
“The lads know that conceding three goals like that is unacceptable, so we will want to see a vast improvement defensively against Cobh. We’re also have to be ruthless with any chances we get as they are good all over the park.”
Horgan will have to contend without the services of Garry Harkin for the long trip down south, but he should be able to call on the experience and trickery of Paddy McCourt and new signing Eric Whelan for the St Patrick’s Day clash in St Colman’s Park.
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea
The last time these sides met, Finn Harps came out on top in a tense one-nil victory at St Colman’s with a Tony McNamee winner which set Harps on their way to the Promised Land of the Premier Division in 2015.
Cobh have failed to overcome their North-East rivals in the last four games between the pair. Ramblers last win over Harps came in 2014 as the Rams finished bottom of the pile in the First Division.
Finn Harps last league win came in September of last season’s campaign as they scored a massive 2-0 victory away to Limerick FC at the Markets Field. The three points won for Ollie Horgan’s men on that occasion were ultimately not enough as they eventually succumbed to the sinking feeling of relegation from the Premier Division.
Cobh Ramblers 7/5; Draw 2/1; Finn Harps 9/5
Cobh Ramblers 2-0 Finn Harps
Injured: Garry Harkin
Doubtful: Paddy McCourt, Eric Whelan