FAI Cup R3
Date: 8 p.m. June 4, 2010
Venue: Finn Park
Harps haven’t advanced past the first knockout round for League of Ireland clubs since 2007 (it used to be the second round but is now the third) when they beat Galway United on penalties in a replay at Finn Park. Last season, however, Galway got their revenge after comfortably winning 3-0, also in Ballybofey.
Their opponents this time around, Crumlin United, have shown real cup pedigree over the last two years, becoming only the sixth club in Irish history to record back-to-back Intermediate Cups when they beat Avondale United in the final last month.
They famously received a “solidarity payment” of €126,000 from English Premier League giants, Tottenham Hotspur, who were forced, by FIFA, to fork-out the large sum because of payment regulations that govern the sale of a professional player – Robbie Keane – from one club to another (Leeds United to Spurs). The Dublin outfit received the compensation for their development of Keane as a schoolboy.
A late goal in a second round replay at Pearse Park two weeks ago denied Bonagee United from squaring-off against Harps in what would have been an all-Donegal tie in the last thirty-two.
Harps manager, James Gallagher, is wary of the threat Crumlin will no doubt pose, and says his players will be totally focused so not to allow a potential upset to occur.
“It’s all about the attitude and focus for Friday,” said Gallagher. “If that’s right then we should be okay. There’s harder draws out there than Crumlin so the opportunity is there for us to move on. It’s a tricky game, but we as a club, as players and management, will be looking at it as a game we’d be expected to win.”
Harps go into the game in good form, picking up seven points from their last three league outings, including a draw with third place Monaghan United at home last Saturday night. They have now kept three consecutive shut-outs with manager James Gallagher in goals.
The Harps boss recognises – although joked that it could be a coincidence – that the team are currently experiencing a good surge of form with him orchestrating the backline. However, he knows it is not the long-term solution.
“I’ve had good cup runs at other clubs but never had one here. It would be nice, but obviously I don’t intend to be playing. I do realise that me playing is not the long-term solution to anything. But as long as I feel that the boys need me in there, I’ll keep playing and I’ll step out when the time’s right. Hopefully we can win the game on Friday night and go on a bit of a cup run,” said Gallagher.
Incidentally, Harps met Crumlin before in the FAI Ford Senior Cup – back in 2006 – when they won 1-0 in the second round at Finn Park. In the following round, however, they were knocked out by Athlone Town 3-2 after extra-time.
Gallagher should have no further injury complaints for the visit of the Southsider’s, other than the ones already on the sidelines – Jonathan Minnock and Ciaran Gallagher – although midfielder Michael Funston is suspended.
Friday’s game is the last at home for three weeks, with Harps travelling to Limerick on Tuesday night before a mid-season break concludes with the visit of Shelbourne on June 25th.