With Harps’ advantage at the top of the table now just one point, Harps know that they must improve on a recent run that has seen them pick up just two victories in their last eight competitive games – the two games prior to the mid-season break both resulted in first league defeats of the season for Ollie Horgan’s men as Athlone and Wexford halted an unbeaten 12 game league run.
Horgan will be left scratching his head as to how Harps managed to lose against Wexford in the game immediately prior to the break two weeks ago. Harps dominated for long spells of the game, but it was Youths who took the chances when they presented themselves.
“Wexford took their chances and we didn’t would probably sum up the game,” said Horgan as he reflected on the game. “They were excellent on the counter attack and Furlong, Keenan and Mulligan showed great quality.
“It wasn’t that we played badly and as a result lost,” he continued. “We played well enough but couldn’t get the first goal. We had a lot of free kicks that weren’t converted – Wexford scored theirs so fair play to them.”
Shelbourne watched their own unbeaten run come to an end over the last couple of games. They had recorded four wins on the bounce before UCD won by the odd goal in three to half the run. Shels followed that up with a 1-1 draw as Cobh left Tolka Park with a share of the spoils last time out.
This will be the third meeting of the two sides this season with Harps holding the upper hand so far. The opening day meeting at Tolka finished in a scoreless draw while Kevin McHugh’s 80th minute penalty was the difference between the sides when they met at Finn Park in April.
“Shelbourne have improved through the first half of the season and we ran our luck against them last time out so it will be very difficult to get anything out of Friday night,” said Horgan ahead of Friday’s trip to Tolka.
“I think we can improve in all areas and need to improve also to compete,” said Horgan as he plots his sides games over the second half of the season. “We need to do this not just in the attacking end as we have conceded our fair share of goals recently also.”
With the transfer window set to open again next week, there are likely to be plenty of comings and goings at Finn Park. Horgan expects Sligo duo Ruairi Keating and Regan Donelon to return to the Showgrounds while Oisin McMenamin has already arrived at Harps.
Keating misses the trip to Dublin on Friday through injury, so may have already played his last game for the club. Raymond Foy and Damien McNulty are available again after missing the loss against Wexford though suspension.
Injured: Ruairi Keating.
FORM GUIDE (last six league games)
Finn Harps: D-W-W-D-L-L (6 pts)
Shelbourne: W-W-W-W-L-D (13 pts)