After three games on the trot away from home, Harps will be looking forward to playing at Finn Park once again on Friday. And home games are a bit of a rarity these days for Ollie Horgan’s side who will face another three away games in succession after the Rovers game this weekend.
Harps, who knocked Wexford Youths out of the FAI Cup at Ferrycarrig Park last Friday, go into Friday’s game on the back of an unbeaten run of nine games. Indeed, Horgan’s side have lost only once now in fifteen games and will go into the game against Rovers on Friday in confident mood.
As usual though, Horgan is urging caution as his troops try to force their way into an end of season play-off place.
“Shamrock Rovers have won their last two games, including putting six past Cobh”, said Horgan.
“They are a very confident young side that have a new freshness and excitement about them. Chris Lyons has scored in each of last two games including a hat trick, as has Cian Kavanagh, a talented young player among many others.
“They have already beaten us in Ballybofey so they won’t have any fear of coming there again”, he said.
Including Rovers on Friday and Cobh the following weekend, Harps will play the bottom two sides in the Division. However, Horgan says that means nothing to him and he and the squad won’t change how they approach games.
“Every game is a game we try to get something out of and the next few games are no different,” he said.
“I think we have had a lot of ‘must win’ games before that we didn’t win! And we know how difficult Friday’s game will be.”
Last Friday, Harps defeated Wexford Youths to progress to the quarter-finals of the FAI Cup for the second season in succession. Standing between them and a place in their first semi-final in fifteen years is a meeting with either Avondale or St. Michael’s next month. The victors of the all non-league tie will be decided on Saturday.
“First half in Wexford we played well and deservedly took the lead,” said Horgan of the 2-1 victory at Ferrycarrig Park. “Second half, Wexford had to come out and had most of the possession but we caught them high up the pitch for a second goal.
“However from there in, we were under serious pressure, conceded a goal, added to a sending off and eight minutes of injury time but we just about held out,” he said.
Friday’s game will be the fourth meeting between the two sides this season, and the second at Finn Park. All three previous meetings have finished with the away team the victor. Harps will be hoping that home advantage counts this time.
On the team front, Darragh Black (shoulder) remains sidelined while Packie Mailey is a doubt with a knee injury. Otherwise, Horgan will have a full panel to choose from.