No fewer than seven players are in the Finn Park treatment room this week, with Garbhan Friel, Paddy McLaughlin, Tommy Bonner and Gareth Harkin all already ruled out. And Conor O’Grady, Kevin McHugh and Gary Merrit have been rated extremely doubtful by the Harps boss.
Preview by Joe Doherty
“Last week, some of our training sessions had only six outfield first team players able to take part,” said Gallagher.
“The two games in the space of three days didn’t help on the injury front, especially as we travelled up and down to Waterford in the one day. Thankfully, though, a few more were able to train this week with Marc Brolly, Keith Cowan and Ciaran Coll all able to take part again.”
That said, there was some good news for Gallagher is that midfielders Marc Brolly and Christy Conaghan return to the squad after injury and Mark Forker has completed his three match suspension.
Brolly was carried off during the 2-2 home draw with Monaghan United last month with an ankle injury and missed the back to back 1-0 defeats in Waterford and Mervue. Conaghan hasn’t played yet this season, but got seventy minutes under his belt in last week’s ‘A’ team game against UCD at Belfield.
“We know Christy’s fitness will not be a problem, as he is a fit lad”, said Gallagher.
“The only worry with him will be match sharpness. He got over an hour last week in the ‘A’ team game and he will come straight into the first team panel for Friday night’s game.”
After starting the season with 2-2 home draws against Limerick and Monaghan United, Harps lost for the first time this year when the lost 1-0 to Waterford United last time out.
“We were disappointed to leave the RSC with nothing. We went down there missing a few players and Paddy McLaughlin went off injured after only twenty minutes, so that upset our pre-match game plan a little.
“However, Raymond Foy came on in Paddy’s place and did well. We rode our luck at times in the first half and defended well, but in the second half I couldn’t see Waterford scoring. In the end, individual errors cost us for their goal. I felt there was a point, if not all three, for the taking, so it was disappointing coming home with nothing.”
After the Waterford game, Harps fell to a somewhat surprising 1-0 defeat to Mervue United in the EA Sports Cup.
Gallagher felt that a combination of missing players and the long trip to Waterford had their part to play.
“I was pleased with the way we played,” he said. “We started well, but you could see that we were a bit sluggish as the game went on. The Waterford game was starting to take its toll and we had to take off a few players who picked up some knocks. We would like to have stayed in the competition for as long as possible, but it wasn’t to be.”
Mervue’s city rivals, Salthill Devon, make the trip to Finn Park on Friday night in a game that Gallagher feels his side is more than capable of winning.
This is the Galway clubs second season playing senior football.
“Salthill look as though they have improved, and after completing their first season at this level, they will be a bit more organised this year. It’s a game we have to win and that we expect to win.
“Without being disrespectable to them, we should be winning our games against the likes of Salthill and Mervue. Apart from Shelbourne and Cork City who have big squads, I don’t think there is much of a difference between a lot of the other teams – I certainly feel we should be able to compete with most of them, especially at home.”
In the three games with Salthill last season, Harps were victorious each time. Gallagher, and Harps, will be looking to extend that record on Friday.
Doubtful: Conor O’Grady (hamstring), Kevin McHugh (knee), Gary Merritt (flu).
Injured: Garbhan Friel (knee), Paddy McLaughlin (hamstring), Tommy Bonner (ankle), Gareth Harkin (ankle).
Form Guide (last six league games)
Finn Harps: W-D-W-D-D-L (9 pts)
Salthill Devon: L-L-L-D-L-L (1 pt)
Recent games at home to Salthill Devon
12-Mar-10 – Won 2-0 (First Division)
20-Aug-10 – Won 3-2 (First Division)
Finn Harps Goalscorers 2011
Kevin McHugh – 3
Gareth Harkin – 1
Finn Harps Results 2011 (Harps goalscorer in brackets)
25th March 2011 – Waterford United 1-0 Finn Harps
18th March 2011 – Finn Harps 2-2 Monaghan United (McHugh 2)
4th March 2011 – Finn Harps 2-2 Limerick (McHugh, Harkin)Tags: