Monaghan themselves only got their season underway last weekend and recorded a fine 2-0 victory over Waterford United at Gortakeegan.
“It will be a tough game but hopefully an exciting one,” said Harps boss James Gallagher as he looked forward to the game.
“I watched them against Waterford and for the most part there didn’t seem to be much difference from Monaghan sides of the past, where they sit back, soak up the pressure and then hit you with a sucker punch. They’re a bit more attack-minded and obviously that is one thing Roddy has said he wants to bring to the side, so with another week’s training behind them we can expect them to be that bit sharper.
“I think people were a bit quick to say they won’t be as strong as last year after Mick Cooke and a few players left. But they’ve compensated with that in the players they’ve brought in with the likes of Dave Rogers, Shane Barrett and Declan O’Brien, and now obviously Roddy has come in to steady the ship.”
The postponement on Saturday means that Harps will plan for the game without the services of Mark Forker who serves an automatic suspension as a result of his red card against Limerick in the opening game.
Indeed, the FAI Disciplinary Committee earlier this week increased the ban to three games, something that neither the player nor Harps boss James Gallagher will be pleased with. After the Limerick game, Gallagher had said that he felt it was a fair tackle.
“I don’t want to say too much on the sending off, but having seen the referee’s report, it certainly doesn’t seem like the same incident that happened during the game on Friday night. For me, the ball was there to be won and that’s exactly what Mark done.”
Gareth Harkin, who scored on his debut for Harps in the 2-2 draw with Limerick two weeks ago said that Harps have to make teams work hard for anything they might take away from Finn Park this season.
“From our point of view, we want to make Finn Park something of a fortress and make it a really hard place to come to. Last year the lads were only beaten here twice all season and that’s something we have to strive for. The first five games are hugely important in any league and with the youth and experience we have on board we would love to get off to a good start.”
Defender James Doherty feels it will be another tight game.
“Last year it was all-square; we won one, they won one and we drew the other, so it will obviously be a tough game but one we’re going into it confident of getting the three points. It was disappointing not to have played last week but you have to deal with these things and move on.”
Finn Park, Friday 18th March 2011 – Kick-off 8.00pm
Suspended: Mark Forker
Injured: Garbhan Friel, Christy Conaghan.
Unavailable: Keith Cowan.
Form Guide (last six league games)
Finn Harps: D-L-W-D-W-D (9 pts)
Monaghan United: L-W-D-L-L-W (7 pts)
Last six games at home to Monaghan United
19-Aug-06 – Won 4-0 (First Division)
30-Mar-07 – Drew 0-0 (First Division)
31-Jul-07 – Won 3-0 (First Division)
16-May-09 – Lost 1-2 (First Division)
07-Nov-09 – Lost 0-2 (Monaghan United)
29-May-10 – Drew 0-0 (First Division)
Finn Harps Goalscorers 2011
Gareth Harkin – 1
Kevin McHugh – 1
Finn Harps Results 2011 (Harps goalscorer in brackets)
4th March 2011 – Finn Harps 2-2 Limerick (McHugh, Harkin)