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Horgan: We can’t afford another slow start

By Frank Craig

Ollie Horgan has warned his Finn Harps side that another poor Premier League start will cost them this time out.

Harps went a full 14 games last season before they finally netted their first win. They eventually dragged themselves off the basement spot before securing their top flight safety with a play-off win over Drogheda United.

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However Horgan, speaking at Tuesday evening’s press conference in Letterkenny, says a similar opening to the new campaign simply won’t be good enough in 2020.

We have to get points on the board right away. We went 14 games last year and if we do that this time out we’re gone. We need to get everything right. But a similar start to last season, no, there’ll be no coming back from that.”

Harps have lost 11 senior players from last season’s squad. Six have come in but the manager is adamant that more business needs to be done in the coming weeks.

“We’ve signed quite well,” he explains. “But the fact is we’ve lost the guts of a full side. Had we kept that and added to it then we’d have taken a fair cut at it.

But at the moment we’re only replacing what has gone out and that process will continue right up until we play Sligo in the middle of February.

We’re getting there. But it’s a slow process. It’s difficult to attract players here for a whole load of reasons. Even being in the Premier Division… that guarantees us nothing.

We lost Josh Smyth to Galway and the First Division. He’d a better financial offer. We’re trying to get lads that want to play in the Premier Division. That has to be the attraction with us.

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Obviously, Josh feels Galway will get promoted and he’ll be back in it. With their budget, they probably will. The lads that left, you have to respect their decisions. There are easier options financially out there. And we’ve no complaints about that.”

At the moment, the obvious place for Horgan to strengthen has to be up top. Regular front men Raf Cretaro, Mikey Place and Nathan Boyle have all moved on and the lack of attacking options is a real concern for the manager.

The three we had last year have all moved on. Raf has retired. He’d a brilliant year for us and it’s just a pity we didn’t get him sooner.

They are gone now and we have to replace them. The only out and out striker we have is Jamie (Brtowne) who came up from the Under 19s. He’s a good kid and he will get chances. But it’s an area we need to add to.

Adrian Delap and Karl O’Sullivan can play in those positions but it wouldn’t be their main spots.”

Harps’ pre-season is currently under way and, as usual, Finn Park is out of bounds for them. Hogan though is content enough with how those preparations for the new season are going.

It’s going okay. We haven’t lost any sessions, even with the weather the way it’s been. We’ve got to chop and change and compromise. We’re depending on favours and other people’s facilities at times.

We can’t get onto the pitch at Finn Park. This is now the seventh pre-season I’ve been involved with and we have yet to play a game there.

For those obvious reasons, our pre-season friendlies are all away.”

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