SLIGO ROVERS 6 FINN HARPS 0
OLLIE Horgan admitted his ‘concern’ after his Finn Harps side shipped five goals in the final half-an-hour in a 6-0 beating by Sligo Rovers on Saturday night.
Rovers led through a first-half goal by John Russell, but Harps collapsed after Dinny Corcoran blasted in the second just after the hour mark.
“We were competitive for an hour, but what really concerns me is that last 20 minutes to half-hour when our workrate really dropped,” Horgan said.
“Their workrate in that period was way above our’s. There will be sides in the First Division who will have the workrate and who’ll be able to knock the ball around too. It could be a good time for something like that to happen – but of course it is a concern.
“Up to that spell we weren’t bad and we matched Sligo. We had a fair bit of the ball, but we really dropped in the last half-an-hour. We can’t just turn around and say: ‘Ah, sure we won’t face that again’. Shelbourne, for instance, have the workrate and the calibre to go along with it.”
Horgan was without Ruairi Keating, who played in a friendly for a home based Republic of Ireland Under-21 side on Saturday. Sligo player Keating rejoined Harps on Thursday and Horgan has confirmed that the striker, along with Regan Donelon and Nathan Boyle have signed on loan deals that will initially last until June.
“All three are in until June and we’ll take a look again,” the Harps boss said.
Harps begin their First Division campaign on Friday, March 6 against Shelbourne at Tolka Park with League newboys Cabinteely visiting Finn Park a week later. Ciaran Coll and Gareth Harkin will sit out the Shelbourne clash through suspension while Packie Mailey remains some way off returning from a knee injury that has prevented him from taking part in pre-season training.
Conor Winn, Pat McCann, Caoimhinn Bonner and Sean McCarron have left from last year, but Horgan has added the likes of Ciaran Gallagher, Tony McNamee, Garbhan Friel, Matthew Crossan, Adam Clarke and Wilfried Tagbo, as well as the three loanees, to his ranks.
Horgan said: “There are one or two we’ve lost that we didn’t want to lose and there are one or two we wanted to get in that we didn’t get in. We have a bunch there who are commited and who know how tough it’ll be. They know what’s ahead of them.”
On Saturday night, Harps were more than a match for the first half.
Both Russell and Rafael Cretaro were thwarted early on courtesy of some stout Harps defending, while Alan Keane was unfortunate to see his shot sneak wide of Ciaran Gallagher’s goal on 22.
Rovers captured the lead on 23 however as Harps conceded possession at the edge of their area before the ball fell to Russell who fired past Gallagher.
Cretaro shot wide a minute later when he latched on to a Danny Ledwith cross from the left, just moments before Richard Brush did well to deal with a tricky Gareth Harkin free-kick from the edge of the area.
The Bit O’Red grabbed a second just past the hour mark. The move started with Eoin Wearen and moved through Keith Ward who played Corcoran through with a sumptuous threaded ball before the former Bohs man neatly slotted the ball past the Harps ‘keeper and into the net.
The Showgrounds side had their third on 71 as Keane picked out Nielsen from a wide position and the substitute slotted home.
The final goal of the night came on 86 as Nielsen grabbed his second, Ryan McManus feeding the centre forward and Danish striker Nielsen expertly sending the ball beyond Gallagher for Rovers’ sixth of the night.
Horgan said: “For an hour we were in the game, but even at five and six Sligo were going hell for leather. They’re obviously a good team, but their fitness and workrate was superb. We aren’t where we should be at all.
“Our workrate was nothing compared to what it was last year. If we had that game against Sligo, with the pace and quality, earlier it would have been good. We played Cork and they’d only half a team out against us. Galway weren’t at full strength and it was misleading. We found out a few home truths against Sligo.”
Sligo Rovers: Brush, Keane, Ledwith, McManus, Folan, Wearen, Russell, Ward, Cretaro, Puri, Corcoran. Subs used: Boylan, Nielsen.
Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, Josh Mailey, Damien McNulty, Thomas McMonigle, Ciaran Coll; Gareth Harkin, Brian McGroary, Raymond Foy, Garbhan Friel, Tony McNamee, Wilfried Tagbo.
Subs: Kevin McHugh for McGroary, Regan Donelon for Coll, Ger O’Callaghan for Foy, Matthew Crossan for Tagbo, Adam Clarke for Harkin, Darragh Black for McNamee.