Looking to keep their slim title ambitions alive, promotion chasing Finn Harps host mid-table Galway United at Finn Park on Friday evening. (Kick-Off is at 8pm)
Last week saw a plucky Harps side exit the FAI Cup with a two-nil away defeat against Premier Division Dundalk as Ollie Horgan was sent to the stand at Oriel Park after he remonstrated with the officials in the County Louth venue.
Despite comments from manager Horgan which suggest that Harps have no hope in catching UCD at the top of the pile, the Donegal side could go only two points behind the Students with two games to play should Drogheda beat Collie O’Neill’s side at United Park alongside a win for Finn Harps against Galway.
Speaking ahead of the game with his club’s official media team, the much-loved Galway man, who is plotting the downfall of his hometown club, Horgan said that he is looking forward to the biggest game of the season at Finn Park.
“We have UCD on Friday week in Belfield, but our complete attention has been on Galway who have a huge amount of quality in terms of players with Premier Division experience.
“They are coming here tomorrow night knowing that only a win will be any good to them in terms of getting into the play-offs. We have beaten them twice this season but only just. It was 1-0 in Ballybofey when Jesse Devers got a late goal and down there it was 2-1.
“This is without doubt our most important match of the season and hopefully the players realise that from the work me and Paul Hegarty has done with them this week.” Horgan added.
“Getting turned over by Galway would leave us in a very difficult situation of having to go and try get something from UCD who the top team in the division are” Horgan concluded.
In terms of team news for Harps, Sam Todd returns from suspension while new signing Jacob Borg is now rated as doubtful. Mark Coyle and Paddy McCourt remain out of contention following recent injury troubles.
Looking to build some much-needed momentum for a potential promotion tilt in 2019, Galway United travel north to face an in-form Finn Harps in Ballybofey.
With their season all but over, the Tribesmen would require a miraculous turn of fortunes to get into the Playoff positions. This scenario would have to see Alan Murphy’s side improve on their recent league showings which have been poor throughout the season.
Speaking ahead of the trip up to Donegal with his club’s official media team, player-manager Murphy said that he is looking at the upcoming clash against Harps as a free hit.
“I don’t think there should be any real pressure on us,” Murphy declared.
“Harps could win the league yet, they still have UCD to play and UCD have to play Longford and Drogheda also. Therefore, they will be really going for it against us.
“They’re a strong and combative side and Ollie will have them well up for the game.” The Mayo man added.
“If we don’t start correctly and the guys aren’t committed to working hard and to our game-plan, it could be a difficult night for us.
“Finn Harps is a different challenge for us. We need to give some guys a chance to impress, there will be a few new faces involved in the squad.
“It’s important going forward for this club that there is a pathway from underage football to the first team.”
In terms of team news for the Tribesmen, Conor Layng is still recovering following an operation on a cruciate ligament while Gary Shanahan, Maurice Nugent, Alan Murphy and Dara Mulgannon are also out.
Evan Murphy and the promising Ronan Manning are both also rated as doubtful as youngsters Colin Kelly, Donal Higgins and Dara Costelloe may make their first-team bows in the face of an injury crisis at Éamonn Deacy Park.
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea.
Finn Harps have won the only two encounters of Harps and Galway so far this season by a solitary goal on each occasion.
Incidentally, former Galway man Jesse Devers has scored n both games to secure a valuable six points for Ollie Horgan’s side.
Galway have the 4th worst away record in the league so far this season. only Cabinteely, Wexford and Athlone have a worse record than the Tribesmen on the road.
Finn Harps 4/6; Draw 13/5; Galway United 16/5.
Finn Harps 2-0 Galway United
Injured: Paddy McCourt, Mark Coyle
Doubtful: Jacob Borg.
Injured: Alan Murphy, Conor Layng, Dara Mulgannon, Maurice Nugent, Gary Shanahan.
Doubtful: Evan Murphy, Ronan Manning.