BY CHRIS MCNULTY
WHILE Michael Funston, Caoimhin Bonner and Keith Cowan all return from suspension, Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan is still not guaranteed to be able to select from a full panel for his team’s meeting with Wexford Youths on Friday night (Finn Park, 8pm).
Goalkeeper Conor Winn (knee) and midfielder Pat McCann (toe) have both been reported to be struggling for fitness this week.
While Winn is expected to have shaken off his knock, McCann is losing his battle to be available.
“Pat has been carrying that knock for a few weeks now,” Horgan said.
“He has played on and really there has been no improvement in it. He has rested it and has opted out of one or two sessions. He struggled in Dublin with it last Friday night.”
Winn, though, seems likely to be passed fit.
Horgan said: “We’re hoping that Conor will be ok. He has worked very hard and has got himself in decent shape. He’s in the team on merit.”
Creeslough man Mark Anthony McGinley, a former UCD goalkeeper, has completed his move to Finn Park, but it will be another month before he is available to Horgan having recently had surgery on an injury to his nose.
Horgan has been a long-time admirer of McGinley, who played for the Harps Reserves in a recent Ulster Senior League game against Swilly Rovers.
McGinley had been considering returning to play Gaelic football with St Michael’s, but the player is understood to have called Horgan earlier this week to confirm an interest in joining Harps.
The Ballybofey club has confirmed the departures of Graham Fisher and Paul McVeigh. Fisher, once on the books of Schalke 04, has returned to his native Canada having found first-team opportunities limited while McVeigh has also been released.
The Portsalon man’s next destination has yet to be determined although a strong possibility is that the attacker could make a move to Irish League club Coleraine.
Horgan said: “They both opted to leave. I want to wish them both very well wherever they go next.”
Last week, striker Jodan Loftus arrived on loan from Sligo Rovers and he could come into the reckoning for this week’s game.
Horgan said: “He’s an 18-year-old kid from Castlebar who’s quick and small. He’s a completely different player to Ruairi Keating. I saw him playing with the Sligo Under-19s. He’s an attacker and a good kid. He’s coming up and down with me to training and I’ve got him in training in Castlebar too. He does come into contention for this week.”
Brian McGroary, from Drimarone near Donegal town, has joined Harps and made his debut last Friday against Shelbourne, but a move into the starting line-up would be a little premature for the talented attacker.
Harps are five points behind Wexford, who are the Division’s fourth-placed team at the moment, and Horgan’s men are on a good run of form with just one defeat in ten and none in their last five.
Last week they secured a one-all draw away to promotion chasers Shelbourne after Gareth Coughlan’s penalty cancelled out Sean McCarron’s stunning opener. However, Harps could have won it only for Carel Tiofack to have a ‘goal’ ruled out by Paula Brady, the substitute referee.
Horgan said: “The biggest disappointment for me was the disallowed goal. I have looked over and over at the video of the game and I can see no infringement. That said, Shelbourne had four one-on-one chances. So, while we could have won 2-1, we could have lost 4-1 at the same time.”
McCarron’s cracking goal came after he struck the crossbar with a blistering effort the previous week against Galway. The Derry native has put injury trouble behind him of late and Horgan wants to see a goals return from the striker.
The Harps boss said: “Sean has that in him and maybe he can kick on now. He has had injury problems. It was a great strike and I’m hoping that goal gives him a push now for the rest of the season.”
The return of Cowan, Bonner and Funston will present some selection difficulties for Horgan, whose side has been defensively sound for most of the season. Indeed, an own goal by left-back Ciaran Coll away to Friday’s opponents, Wexford, at the end of May is the last goal from open play they have conceded.
Horgan is anticipating a big challenge from Shane Keegan’s Youths this week.
“I think Wexford can go into the play-offs,” he said.
“I’ve seen them a bit this season and they aren’t up there by fluke or for a joke. I think they could give it a lash. They could scare Galway for third place.
“ This is the best Wexford Youths team that I’ve seen in the First Division. This will be as tough a game as we’ve had. They have added more quality to the side recently with Andy Mulligan signing from Bohemians added to the attacking qualities of Danny Furlong and Aiden Keenan.
“They are very well organised with the likes of Eric Molloy and Shane Dunne driving them from the middle of the field.”