BY AIDAN O’DONNELL
AFTER the embarrassment of last week’s defeat to Mervue United, Finn Harps will be aiming to put an end to two straight defeats when they welcome Athlone Town to Ballybofey tonight (kick-off 8).
Felix Healy and Peter Hutton’s side returned home from Galway last Friday night having gifted struggling Mervue their first win of the season in a 3-0 defeat for Harps.
It was a performance that player-manager Hutton described as “embarrassing” and the “worst we have probably been since I arrived at the club”.
Those sentiments were echoed by Healy this week and the Harps chief admits they lacked a lot of character when Mervue scored their second through Jason Molloy eleven minutes from time.
“It was embarrassing for the last twenty minutes,” he said.
“Having lost the second goal, we didn’t show enough belief that we could get back into the game. We had enough chances to win two matches.
“For an hour we were in control. We had four chances and didn’t score, they get one chance and do score.”
Harps have now conceded six goals in their last two league outings, having conceded just one in their previous three before that, and Healy insists they need to stop getting caught from set-pieces, while showing more ruthlessness in front of goal.
He added: “We’ve really got to start taking our chances and stop conceding goals from set-pieces. Our organisation, by and large, has been fine but we haven’t defended very well from set-pieces at all. Against Limerick, we didn’t play particularly well but it was from two corners in the second half that we conceded the two goals that gave them the win.
“We scored three goals away to Longford and we’re world beaters and then concede three against Mervue and we’re terrible!”
A wonderful second-half brace from Noel McGee was enough to hand Athlone all three points when the sides met in the midlands in March.
Mike Kerley’s side, who sit just a point ahead of Harps, will travel to the northwest hurting from last week’s 2-1 defeat to derby rivals and table-toppers Longford Town.
Healy confirmed midfielder Thomas McBride will serve the second of his two-match ban for his red card against Limerick, while winger Adam Clarke, who has scored four goals so far this season, is unlikely to feature because of a hamstring complaint.
Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Finn Harps Legends will play Derry City Legends at Finn Park on Monday afternoon to try and raise proceeds for the Cardiac Unit at Crumlin Children’s Hospital (kick-off 5pm).
Players such as Donal O’Brien, Declan Boyle, Con McLaughlin, Peter Hutton and Healy himself will be on show for what should make for a great occasion.
“I’ll probably be in both dressing rooms and I might even ref it because I’d imagine it will be quite competitive. Derry Legends play an awful lot of these games. It’s for a good cause and hopefully we can get a good crowd up to lend their support,” said Healy.