BY CHRIS MCNULTY
SEAN McCarron says Finn Harps must beware of Ulster Senior League double winners Cockhill Celtic in tonight’s EA Sports League Cup opener at Finn Park (7.45pm).
Managed by former Harps midfielder Donal O’Brien, Cockhill are eyeing up an upset against Ollie Horgan’s team – and striker McCarron believes Harps must be on their guard to avoid making a surprise exit.
With the likes of former Harps players Gavin Cullen, Garbhan Friel, Gerry Gill, Mark Moran and Johnny Havlin in their ranks, not to mention the piston of their engine happening to be the FAI Intermediate Player of the Year, Malachy McDermott, the Inishowen side will be dangerous opponents for the Ballybofey side.
Yet, Harps would dearly love advancement to the next round, where possible draws against Premier Divisions sides Sligo Rovers and Derry City appear.
“It’s a big incentive for us, if we can beat Cockhill we could get maybe Sligo or Derry in the next round,” McCarron said after Friday’s scoreless draw against Waterford United.
“That would be massive, wouldn’t it? A game against a big team would be great, so we need to go and get the job done against Cockhill.
“We want to progress and do well in the Cup so I’m sure we’ll have a strong team out. Cockhill are a very good side. I played against them before and they’ve got a lot of good players.”
Harps played out a draw against Waterford on Friday night, a result McCarron believes was a good starting point for Ollie Horgan’s team.
Including tonight’s fixture, Harps have another three home games in the next three weeks, with home League games against Cobh and Galway coming around the corner.
McCarron said: “There was a good crowd for the first game so it’s important for us to keep them all on side now too. We need to do well at home. We want to get these people back and we’re aiming to make Finn Park a fortress.
“It was important not to be beaten by Waterford so the spirits don’t get lowered early on around the club.”
Despite McCarron playing in an attacking side on Friday night, Harps’ edge was blunt in the final third.
McCarron said: “Ollie wants us to go and press; it’s very attack minded. We’re disappointed not to have created too many chances. The pitch wasn’t in the best of shape there. You couldn’t play much football on it.
“The new players have come in and done very well. They’ve acquitted themselves very well.
“There’ll be good competition for places when everyone is around and that’s very healthy for the club.”
McCarron and Horgan worked in opposite corners when the player was on Kildrum Tigers’ books and Horgan was managing Fanad United.
Now, though, they’re on the one side. McCarron said of the new manager: “Ollie has been brilliant. He’s a real football man. I’ve really enjoyed it so far because he really gets you motivated for games.”
Horgan is expected to make anything up to a handful of changes for the game against Cockhill, with captain Kevin McHugh and goalkeeper Shaun Patton among those struggling for fitness at present.
Horgan said: “We will make a call early on Monday, a couple of them are struggling and we don’t want any long-term damage.”