BY CHRIS MCNULTY AT FINN PARK
FINN Harps manager Ollie Horgan has challenged his players to see if they can repeat their tricks when the First Division’s big guns roll into town in the coming weeks.
Harps might be top of the table on goal difference, but with three of the next four games seeing them play Galway FC, Shelbourne and Longford Town, Horgan certainly isn’t getting dizzy on the heights.
Last weekend, Harps equaled their win record from all of last season – one win – when they defeated Shamrock Rovers B three-nil and they followed it up by inflicting an annihilation on Cobh Ramblers on Friday night.
“I’m happy with the result obviously but, again, it was probably flattering, a bit like last week,” was Horgan’s immediate reaction to the win.
“At one-nil, Craig Burns got a flick on a corner at the near post and it could have been one-all and a completely different story. Coming in at half-time the game could have gone either way.
“We didn’t start particularly well in the second half. The game turned on the second half. Cobh probably didn’t have the same fight that they usually have after that. But, as I said to the lads in there, when we go down to Cobh in a couple of months’ time we will know all about fight.
“To be fair and to credit both sides, conditions underfoot were quite poor. There was no shortage of effort. They weren’t afraid to get down and dirty. I will give credit that way.”
Credit, though, is not thrown around like confetti by the Galwegian, who remained grounded when addressing the local press after the game, insisting that the game might have panned out differently, but for their second goal which killed it as a contest.
Carel Tiofack scored the second, three minutes into the second half, after James Doherty’s first-half opener. Harps pressed the feet on Cobh’s neck with Pat McCann scoring twice and Ruairi Keating getting in on the act.
Not since June 2012, and a 5-1 win over Salthill, have Harps scored five goals in a game. This was their biggest win since a 6-0 away win at Athlone in October 2009 and Finn Park hasn’t seen a home win like this since Paul Hegarty’s promotion winners of 2007 thumped Kilkenny City 6-0 at the venue in September of that season.
Horgan said: “It’s easy scoring goals when you’re two-nil up or three-nil up. Let’s see when we’ve a tight game against Galway if they can score those goals, or a tight game against Longford or Shelbourne. We’re realistic.
“Then, if we score five goals we will make a statement.
“On a night like that things go well and the attacking players take the eye, but here against Waterford United we were lucky enough to get a nil-nil and we were talking about defending. There is no point in me singling anyone out because I’ll probably be giving out to them next weekend!”
His side played with great fluency in attack and although there were a couple of jittery moments it was largely a stress-free night for Conor Winn, the goalkeeper.
This was Winn’s third clean sheet in a row, but Horgan again laid down the gauntlet for his side to run ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Galway FC at Finn Park.
Horgan said: “We go and play a Galway team that has Vinny Faherty, Ryan Manning, young (Ryan) Connolly. We’ll know all about them. If we keep a clean sheet against them, then we can talk.”
Horgan shrugged when it was noted that Shelbourne and Waterford shared six goals at Tolka Park.
Top of the League, Ollie? “We certainly won’t be looking at that,” he said.
“It’s three games in. we have yet to hit the big teams – Galway, Shelbourne, Longford. Then, we’ll know all about it.”
Horgan expects captain Kevin McHugh to be out ‘for another match or two’, Sean McCarron to miss ‘another month’ and is anticipating that Ruairi Keating will have a suspension coming in the post soon after the on-loan striker picked up another booking on Friday night.
“We’re down to the bare bones as it is,” Horgan said. “We can’t lose any more players. We need everyone.”