Harps are undefeated in their opening seven games of the season and have kept clean sheets in all but one of their opening league fixtures. The only goals conceded by Ollie Horgan’s side so far this season in league action have come in the 2-2 draw with UCD at the Belfield Bowl.
Harps previous three games at Finn Park this season have all finished in victories for the home side but Ollie Horgan is remaining cautious ahead of the visit of Shelbourne on Friday evening.
“Shelbourne will be a very difficult game on Friday next,” said Horgan earlier this week.
“They caused us huge problems in the first game at Tolka Park, creating numerous one-on-one chances and we were lucky to get out of there with a point,” he said.
On Saturday, Harps took home all three points from their trip to Wexford thanks to Thomas McMonagle’s late goal. Despite playing the final quarter of an hour with just ten men after Wilfried Tabgo was sent off, Harps held on for a 1-0 victory.
“There weren’t too many chances for either side on Saturday night with both sides threatening from set pieces mainly,” commented Horgan as he looked back on a satisfying result. “The game could have gone either way and Wexford will probably feel they should have got at least a point out of it – especially when we went down to 10 men.”
While Harps currently sit top of the pile in the First Division with a five point advantage to Wexford Youths in second place, Horgan isn’t getting carried away with his sides good start to the campaign.
“Of course we are happy to have made a decent start but we have had a little luck along the way and need that to continue,” said Horgan. “Every game so far that we have played could have gone in either direction. There isn’t a huge difference between any of the eight sides with any team capable of beating the other on a given day.”
While Harps have made a fine start to the campaign, Horgan hasn’t really changed his pre-season views where he felt that it would be other sides in the promotion shake-up at the end of the season and not his.
“Of course we are happy to have started well enough but it doesn’t matter where you are in April as we found out to our cost last year,” he said. “Galway started slowly last year but gradually improved into a top team. I think a couple of teams in our Division this year will improve similarly.
“We haven’t set any targets. I think it would be very foolish in our Division as it is very competitive and as I said, very difficult to predict the outcome of any game.”
Wilfried Tagbo will sit out the match against Shels after his red card in Wexford last Saturday. Damien McNulty, who missed the trip to Ferrycarrig Park, remains a doubt while Ruairi Keating joins him on the doubtful list. Packie Mailey remains out.
Harps defeated Shelbourne 3-2 at Finn Park at the tail-end of last season to end the Dublin sides hopes of finishing at the top of the First Division table. That win, however, is Harps’ only victory against Shels in the last fourteen meetings between the sides.
Having picked up seven points in their opening three league games this season, Shels have failed to win any of their last four games and have picked up just one point for a possible twelve – that coming in the 2-2 draw against Waterford at the RSC where goals from Gareth Coughlan and Craig Walsh in the last ten minutes gave them a share of the spoils.
Suspended: Wilfried Tagbo.
Doubtful: Ruairi Keating, Damien McNulty.
Injured: Packie Mailey.
FORM GUIDE (last six league games)
Finn Harps: W-W-W-D-W-W (16 pts)
Shelbourne: W-W-L-D-L-L (7 pts)
RECORD AGAINST SHELBOURNE (All competitions)
Friday’s game will be the 85th meeting of the two clubs, and the 40th to be played at Finn Park.
Total Games: 84 (39 at Finn Park)
Harps Wins: 33 (20 at Finn Park)
Shels Wins: 32 (9 at Finn Park)
Draws: 19 (10 at Finn Park)
Harps Goals: 111 (65 at Finn Park)
Shels Goals: 124 (48 at Finn Park)
LAST 10 GAMES v SHELBOURNE
25-Jun-10 Finn Harps 1-1 Shelbourne (First Division)
17-Sep-10 Shelbourne 3-1 Finn Harps (First Division)
29-Apr-11 Shelbourne 1-0 Finn Harps (First Division)
16-Jul-11 Finn Harps 0-3 Shelbourne (First Division)
25-Oct-11 Shelbourne 4-0 Finn Harps (First Division)
04-Apr-14 Shelbourne 2-0 Finn Harps (First Division)
23-May-14 Finn Harps 1-1 Shelbourne (First Division)
25-Jul-14 Shelbourne 1-1 Finn Harps (First Division)
26-Sep-14 Finn Harps 3-2 Shelbourne (First Division)
06-Mar-15 Shelbourne 0-0 Finn Harps (First Division)