BY CHRIS MCNULTY
ALTHOUGH their record shows just one defeat in fourteen games, Ollie Horgan insists that Finn Harps must improve significantly if they’re to book a place in the quarter-finals of the FAI Ford Cup.
The Ballybofey side make their third away trip on the bounce on Friday night when they head to Ferrycarrig Park for a third round joust with Shane Keegan’s Wexford Youths.
Only a one-nil defeat to Longford Town has blotted the Harps jotter since the beginning of May, but Horgan’s men still find themselves six points off the play-off positions with only six League fixtures remaining.
Having had trips to Longford and Waterford in the last two weeks, Harps will get a welcome home gate next Friday when they host Shamrock Rovers ‘B’ and a Cup victory in Wexford would be welcomed by the strained book-keeper at Finn Park. A win would fire Harps back into the FAI Cup quarter-finals, a year after they narrowly missed out on a place in the semi-finals when they lost out to Drogheda United in a replay.
“The Cup draw wasn’t particularly kind to us,” said Horgan.
“Away to Wexford was probably the toughest tie we could have got considering the cost, distance and most importantly the quality Wexford have.
“Every game is important to us and we will approach Friday’s game in the same manner as all the others. We were very lucky to get a draw down there back in May, coming back from two down with Wexford missing chances to completely kill the game.
“They have a mixture of everything on offer, they are strong, fit, very well organised and no shortage of quality with the likes of Danny Furlong, Andy Mulligan and Eric Molloy just to mention a few.”
Packie Mailey and Damien McNulty are available again having served suspensions, but Caoimhin Bonner is once again suspended this week, the defender serving the third of a three-match ban. Darragh Black won’t be making the journey as he misses out because of a shoulder injury.
Last Friday night, two goals by debutant Jordan Loftus fired Harps to a 2-0 success at Waterford United. It took them to eight games without defeat, but Horgan knows it’ll take a massive performance against Wexford. With Mailey and McNulty returning to bolster the ranks, Horgan has a significantly stronger pack this weekend, having had only sixteen players in Waterford, inlcuding three goalkeepers.
Goals have been the big problem for Harps this season, with Loftus’ brace meaning he’s now joint second in the scorers still at the club. With Ruairi Keating gone back to Sligo Rovers, Pat McCann’s five goals see him top that list.
Gareth Harkin is expected to be back in contention this week, while Horgan could be encouraged by the showings of Loftus, as well as Brian McGroary, who filled in at right-back in the RSC.
Horgan said: “We had a good result in Waterford considering the number of players unavailable to us but they had a number missing also.
“However, it wasn’t one of our better performances but the new faces in the team gave a good account of themselves. Both sides had goal chances, but Waterford missed their opportunities and we took a couple.
“Thankfully Jordan took his chances when they came to him. We were just ok on Friday and would need to improve to have any chance in Wexford this weekend.”
Last year, Keith Cowan and Sean McCarron netted the goals as Harps defeated Wexford 2-1 at Finn Park in the Cup. This will be the fourth clash of the teams this season, with nothing between them previously in three draws.
Should Friday’s game end in a draw, the replay will take place on Tuesday night next (26th August) in Finn Park at 7.45pm.
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