Finn Harps will kick-off their 46th consecutive season in the League of Ireland when they host Waterford United at Finn Park tomorrow evening (kick-off 7.45pm).
2014 marks the club’s 60th season in football, having been formed in 1954. The club made the step up to the senior grade in 1969 and have remained a member of the League of Ireland since then.
Friday’s game against Waterford will be the first in charge for new boss Ollie Horgan, who was appointed Manager after the resignation of Peter Hutton at the end of last season.
Horgan has been busy over the winter months and in addition to resigning many of last year’s panel he has also brought in a number of new faces to the club.
These include former club captain Packie Mailey who returns to the club after two years away as well as Carel Tiofack from Limerick, goalkeeper Conor Winn from Dundalk and Ruairi Keating on loan from neighbours Sligo Rovers.
“Things have obviously been busy since I got the job,” said new boss Horgan as he looks forward to his first job in senior football. “I have spent a lot of time on the phone and meeting people but hopefully it is all worthwhile now that the season is about to get up and running.”
“We have been training for quite a while now and pre-season was decent but we still have a lot of work to do now that the new campaign is up and running,” continued Horgan.
“While we played quite a few games, it was disappointing that we didn’t get more games on grass but unfortunately the weather put a stop to some of them – with the winter we’ve had, there’s not much we can do about it.”
Horgan feels that this year’s First Division will be one of the strongest for some time.
“I haven’t set any goals really and will just be taking things a game at a time seeing where it will take us. It is certainly going to be a much more difficult division with Shelbourne and Galway FC added to the already strong teams in there.”
Even though Harps start the season with three of their first four games at home, Horgan doesn’t feel that this will be of any advantage to his side.
“It was nice to get a home game to start the season, but we still have to play twenty-eight games one way or other.
“On Friday we start the season with one of the favourites for promotion coming to Ballybofey. Waterford lost out on a promotion place on the last day of last season. Having watched them a number of times last year I felt they were the best footballing team in the Division and they have added well to their squad ahead of the new season.”
Waterford have proved a difficult side for Harps to overcome in recent seasons and go into the game with only two victories in their last eighteen against the Blues.
Waterford won on each of their two visits to Finn Park last season. The two clubs also met on the opening day of last season, with Sean McCarron’s last minute goal earning Harps a share of the spoils.
Horgan has doubts over a number of players with Tommy Bonner, Gareth Harkin, Josh Mailey, Carel Tiofack and Kevin McHugh sitting out last week’s friendly against Dundalk. All five will be assessed ahead of Friday’s league opener.
Doubtful: Tommy Bonner, Gareth Harkin, Josh Mailey, Carel Tiofack, Kevin McHugh
Form Guide (last six league games)
Finn Harps: L-L-L-L-W-D (4 pts)
Waterford United: W-L-W-L-W-L (12 pts)
Last six home games against Waterford United
16-Jul-10 – Finn Harps 1-1 Waterford United (First Division)
11-Jun-11 – Finn Harps 1-0 Waterford United (First Division)
18-May-12 – Finn Harps 0-1 Waterford United (First Division)
29-Sep-12 – Finn Harps 1-2 Waterford United (First Division)
26-Apr-13 – Finn Harps 0-1 Waterford United (First Division)
16-Aug-13 – Finn Harps 0-2 Waterford United (First Division)