Depleted Harps make trip to Athlone Town as preparations for Play-Offs begin

Kevin McHugh

With Finn Harps knowing that they will finish  second place in this season’s First Division, Ollie Horgan takes his troops to Athlone Town on Friday with one eye on the promotion / relegation play-offs later this month.

Harps will face either UCD or Shelbourne in the two-legged play-off semi-final with the first to those games set to take place in Dublin in two weeks time.

However, Horgan’s preparations have been dealt a slight blow for Friday’s game in Athlone as no fewer than five of his squad are missing. Damien McNulty is sidelined with a shoulder injury while Tony McNamee, Kevin McHugh, Wilfried Tagbo and Ciaran Coll are all suspended.

Whether or not Horgan was going to use the last two league games to experiment a bit with other squad members ahead of the play-offs, he has no choice other than to do that on Friday.

“We haven't a huge choice in what team goes out on Friday with the numbers that are unavailable,” said Horgan.

“We have scored just once against Athlone all season,” continued Horgan as he looks ahead to the game at Lissywollen.

“They turned us over in Athlone already and secured a scoreless draw at Finn Park in the last two meetings with us. They are a good side and on their day can beat anyone and have beaten anyone,” he said. The likes of Wexford and Shelbourne and ourselves have already lost to them,” warned the Harps boss.

“Their home form in particular has been good. They have a good mixture of experience and youth and will be very difficult opposition on Friday. We approach this game the same as any other game. The fact that a number of players are unavailable makes it a more difficult task,” he said.

Lissywollen has proved to be a difficult venue for Harps in recent times. Harps have failed to win in any of their last five visits there, with four of those games ending in victory for the home side.