Many Finn Harps players will board a bus at lunchtime today and head for Dublin, having punched in a morning’s work.
This year represents the 50th anniversary of Harps’ entry into the League of Ireland in 1969, but it is the first time for the club to compete in a ten-team Premier Division.
Harps’ financial and geographical difficulties have been well documented, but they are magnified now in what will be their most testing season yet.
Ollie Horgan, the Harps manager, appears to have recruited well and Friday night’s one-all draw against the champions, Dundalk, has given rise to optimism among the Finn Park faithful.
What they saw was just the sort of endeavour they want and need to survive.
Horgan, though, was quick to quell the hysteria and pointed to successive Monday trips to Dublin – tonight to St Patrick’s Athletic and next week to Shamrock Rovers – to illustrate the task his men face.
“That’s the worst part of being part-time in this League,” Horgan said.
“It’s brilliant to be in it, A game every Friday is tough enough.
“Most of them will go to work on a Saturday and will take a half-day on a Monday to go to Inchicore.
“That’s the tough part, but we should be fresh enough at this stage of the season.
“We know we’re going to have difficult days. We’re in Dublin on the next two Mondays to play two serious sides.”
In Horgan’s first year as Harps manager, they lost heavily (6-1) to Pat’s in an FAI Cup semi-final, but did have some joy against the Saints in their last spell in the top flight.
Horgan said: We have struggled up there. We had a heavy Cup defeat up there. They have a very strong panel, never mind a strong 11.
“They’ll be right up there at the top of the table. We have to go there in three days’ time. It would be difficult enough next Friday, say, but we only have three days.”
Harry Ascroft and Mark Timlin continue to sit out for Harps, while Mark Coyle emerged as a doubt following Friday’s draw with Dundalk.
Keith Cowan headed Harps into an unlikely lead only for Brian Garland to power in an equaliser 20 minutes from time.
Horgan said: “We had one or two chances to maybe go on and win it. We’re delighted to get a point, but it’s only a point. It was a lot of effort, but it was a good result.
“Our of 36 games, we have 34 to go. They had several chances, too, and we made a few blocked tackles. We got a point, it’s one point and we’ll need a hell of a lot more point.”