By Chris McNulty at The Charlie O’Donnell Sports Grounds
A QUIZ question on the make-up of Ollie Horgan’s very first Finn Harps selection will draw answers from only the hardcore anoraks.
The new Harps boss played a team made up of players on trial on Saturday against Ulster Senior League double winners Cockhill Celtic.
Donal O’Brien’s team took the win thanks to goals from Aidan O’Donnell and Gerard McLaughlin, after Aaron Harkin’s deflected effort put Harps in front in the ninth minute.
Johnny Bonner, Micheál Doherty and Gary Merritt were regular features in Harps’ match-day squads last season under Peter Hutton, but have yet to put pen to paper for 2014.
They were among the more recognisable features in a Harps side that included Gareth Harkin, who is expected to sign at Finn Park for the coming campaign, and David Shovlin, recently of Drumkeen United and formerly of Derry City and Salthill Devon.
In goal was Conor Winn, a 21-year old Englishman, who has been on the books of Salthill, Mervue, Galway United, Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk.
Standing at 6’ 6”, Winn has an imposing presence between the stick, though the immediate future remains unclear after he was forced to leave the action having suffered an injury in a 73rd minute collision with Garbhan Friel.
With Harps having only two substitutes, Horgan had to ‘borrow’ Cockhill’s teenage netminder Lee McCarron for the final seventeen minutes and the Harps manager said the injury would ruled Winn out of Wednesday night’s game against Drumkeen United.
However, Horgan is keen on Winn and confirmed that he will have further talks this week.
Castlefin’s Conor O’Rourke, Clonmany’s Jason Doherty, Letterkenny native Ryan Lonergan and Fanad United lad Shane Buchanan were among the others to get a run out.
This was a game that is in keeping with the tone of these affairs, though there was a real bright point in the performance of Johnny Bonner. The Buncrana man had cut a frustrated figure during large periods of last season, but here he offered a reminder to Horgan that a run in the side over pre-season could work wonders.
His was a lively display, the highlight being a solo run that saw him slalom his way through a glut of Harps defenders before being stopped in his tracks by Gerry Gill, who saw yellow for his troubles.
Harps had taken the lead when Shane Buchanan teed up Harkin and his shot took a wicked deflection off Oisin McColgan to loop past Gavin Cullen.
Harps had the brighter of the opening exchanges, Buchanan being denied by Cullen, who did well to thwart Jason Doherty moments later.
Cockhill leveled in the 28th minute, when Aidan O’Donnell fired past Winn after Liam O’Donnell had cut back for Derek Doherty to have the initial shot.
A week out from their last-sixteen clash in the FAI Intermediate Cup against St Mochta’s in Dublin, Cockhill upped the ante and were comfortable during the second half.
Sub Paul McKinney came close with a rear-post header that just lacked direction, while Liam O’Donnell drove over from outside the box.
After McCarron replaced the injured Winn for an unexpected debut for Harps, he was a busy individual. Letterkenny man Ryan Lonergan, who was another of the better among Harps’ trialists, headed off the line aftter Garbhan Grant lobbed over the ‘keeper.
Cockhill took the win twelve minutes from time when sub McLaughlin fired home from a cross by Seanan McColgan.
Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen; Kieran McLaughlin, Johnny Havlin, Oisin McColgan, Conor Keddy; Liam O’Donnell, Derek Doherty, Gerry Gill, Mark Moran; Aidan O’Donnell, Garbhan Friel. Subs: Gerard McLaughlin, Paul McKinney and Seanan McColgan for Gill, Doherty and A.O’Donnell (half-time); William O’Connor and Malachy McDermott for K.McLaughlin and L.O’Donnell (63 mins); Daniel Doherty for Friel (83 mins); Friel for McDermott (86 mins).
Finn Harps: Conor Winn; Ryan Lonergan, David Shovlin, Conor O’Rourke, Gareth Harkin; Gary Merritt, Aaron Harkin, Johnny Bonner, Micheál Doherty; Shane Buchanan, Jason Doherty. Subs: Brian McVeigh and Matthew Henry for Bonner and J.Doherty (half-time); Bonner for Merritt (63 mins); Lee McCarron for Winn (73 mins); Doherty for Buchanan (82 mins).
Referee: George Cauldwell.