BY CHRIS MCNULTY
JAMES Doherty was entitled to wear a broad grin on Friday night after the 25-year-old Kilmacrennan man netted his first League goal in the colours of Finn Harps.
On the occasion of his 110th appearance for the club, Doherty slid in to convert a 29th minute goal that was every bit as turbid as the night that was in it.
He doesn’t get on the scoresheet too often, with his only previous goal for Harps a cool finish in a low-key 4-1 EA Sports League Cup win over Mayo League last March. This one might live longer in the memory.
Doherty was stationed as a right wing-back on Friday night, he and Ciaran Coll on the opposite flank given a real licence to rove forward.
“It’s different now because I can get a forward a wee bit more with us playing three at the back,” said Doherty, previous to now a conventional right-back.
“You kind of have to get into the box from there. It’s suiting us at the minute, the way we’re playing. The whole team is having to do a lot of work. It’s up and down, up and down – and if you aren’t doing it you’ll be told.
“I’ve played it a few times before but not as seriously as we’re playing it now. We do a lot of work tactically at training. It’s a role I like and I think that it suits us to play that way. Next week it could be different – it all depends on who we’re playing.”
The role is demanding and Doherty had clearly expended a lot of energy in heavy conditions and on a pitch that was only passed as playable around an hour and a half before kick-off.
He said: “You’re in between the two roles. The main job is to never stop going. If Dee (Damien McNulty), for example, gets it then I have to be an option out wide and if they’re coming at us I have to be tucked in.
“We’re happy with the performance anyway.
“We had been hearing different things and seeing things on Facebook, with people wondering if the game would be on or off, but we had to keep focussed. We have never had it easy against Cobh.
“At one-nil we were a bit sleepy at times. If they’d got one back it could have been a different story. When we got the third we settled down a bit and we looked more solid.”
Although Harps are top of the pile, Doherty is well aware of the pitfalls of getting sucked into the silly talk.
He said: “We’re taking it game by game. We don’t even look at the table to be honest. Last year people were looking it saying: ‘Look at us, we’re going great after four games’. Look where we finished…(Harps finished sixth last season).
“We’ve set a marker down now by beating Cobh. We need to go and get a win against Galway too, but we’re under no illusions about how difficult that will be.”
As well as the forward forays of Doherty and Coll, one of the brightest points in this display was the way their attack clicked.
Doherty said: “Ruairi (Keating) has worked his socks off. I don’t think Cobh will want to see him again in a hurry. He’s only 18 and he’s flying. He has been a breath of fresh air. With Kevin (McHugh) and Sean (McCarron) out, it’s great to see boys stepping up to the plate.
“It’s great to see Pat (McCann) get a couple and ‘Tio’ (Carel Tiofack) set up a couple as well as scoring one. Ruairi got one and that was just rewards for all his work.”