Finn Harps play their first competitive game of the season away from Finn Park on Sunday afternoon next when they make the trip to the capital to take on Shamrock Rovers’ second string at Tallaght Stadium (kick-off 3pm).
The game will mark Harps’ first ever senior game in Tallaght and also a first of four games against the Rovers ‘B’ squad who become the first club in Ireland to field two teams in the League of Ireland in the same season.
Regardless of the controversy in some quarters that surrounded the decision of the League to allow a club to field two teams, Harps will make the trip to Tallaght on Sunday hoping to build on last weekend’s results in the League and Cup at Finn Park.
And with Rovers having the ability to include up to four of their first-team squad in Sunday’s team, Harps boss Ollie Horgan knows the task that faces his team will be a tough one.
“We have a hugely difficult game ahead of us on Sunday,” said boss Horgan as he prepares for his first away game in charge of Harps.
“They have a very talented young team in Shamrock Rovers and when you add in a few of their professional players from the first team from Friday nights Premier League game, they will present a very difficult proposition on what is a massive pitch at Tallaght.”
Horgan got his tenure as boss off to a decent start with a scoreless draw against Waterford United at Finn Park last Friday night and followed it up with a 3-2 victory over Cockhill Celtic in the League Cup three days later.
“I had mixed thoughts after Friday’s game,” said Horgan. “I was disappointed with the first half performance and we were lucky not to have been behind at half time.
“But I was much happier with the effort in second half. Although the best chance on the night fell to Paddy Barrett for Waterford, we also could have sneaked it with chances that fell to Ruairi Keating and Sean McCarron.
“I was delighted to get a win on Monday night. Cockhill caused us a lot of problems especially from set pieces. We knew going into the game it would be difficult and it proved to be.”
Although he can be pleased with the efforts of his charges in the first weekend of games, Horgan knows there is still much work to do over the coming weeks and months.
“There is still room for a lot of improvement,” commented Horgan. “There was nothing hugely impressive from the first two games although we showed a little bit of bottle that can be worked on.
“There is still a lot to work on. The amount of free kicks we gave away, especially in the Cockhill game, and indeed defending them is something we can learn from. We still need to be sharper on the second ball but hopefully that will come as players gain more match sharpness.”
Harps have a number of injury worries ahead of the trip to Dublin. Kevin McHugh and Gareth Harkin are both having trouble with their hamstring. Damien McNulty has a virus while Josh Mailey is struggling with a calf injury. All four sat on the League Cup win over Cockhill.
Doubtful: Kevin McHugh (hamstring), Damien McNulty (virus), Gareth Harkin (hamstring) and Josh Mailey (calf)
Form Guide (last six league games)
Finn Harps: L-L-L-W-D-D (5 pts)
Finn Harps Goalscorers 2014
Ruairi Keating – 1 (in League Cup)
Sean McCarron – 1 (in League Cup)
Finn Harps Results 2014 (Finn Harps scorers in brackets)
10-Mar-2014 – LC – Finn Harps 3-2 Cockhill Celtic (McCarron, O’Donnell o.g., Keating)
07-Mar-2014 – Lg – Finn Harps 0-0 Waterford United
Lg = SSE Airtricity League, First Division. LC = EA Sports League CupTags: