Finn Harps will make their longest away trip of the season on Friday when the make the journey to Turners Cross to take on Cork City.
Cork are one of the favourites for this season’s Premier Division title, and a tough task awaits Ollie Horgan and his Finn Harps side if they hope to take anything from their trip Leeside.
“It doesn't get much more difficult than away to Cork for a whole pile of reasons”, said Harps boss Horgan as he prepared for his side’s second away game in five days.
“The distance might be a long one, but that is the least of the worries ahead of the game,” he said.
“They have an excellent panel of hugely talented players, they are technically and physically very strong and have a great mixture of experience and youth. It could be a long hour and half for us,” he warned.
Horgan has every right to be worried. Not only does he have a mounting injury list – Barry Molloy, Josh Mailey, Keith Cowan, Tommy McMonagle, Adam Hanlon and Michael Rafter are all confirmed absentees by the Manager while Dave Scully and Kevin McHugh are carrying knocks – but history does not favour Harps.
In 17 previous trips to Turners Cross to face Cork City, Harps have only won once – that coming twenty years ago when a Pierce Walsh free-kick was the difference between the two sides in the first top flight meeting between the clubs.
Since then, it has been a tale of woe with Harps picking up just three draws in fifteen meetings between the sides – indeed, the last two visits have seen Harps ship five goals in each of their trips to the Cross.
Harps will go into the game with some confidence though having beaten Bray Wanderers at Finn Park last Friday night.
“I think anyone at the ground on Friday night could see that we were lucky to get the three points out of the game,” said Horgan of the 1-0 victory over the Seagulls.
“Bray were the better team but maybe the little bit of luck that we didn't have earlier last week against St. Pat’s came back to us on Friday.”
A much changed Harps side followed the game with Bray with a trip to Galway in the EA Sports Cup on Monday night but ended up on the wrong side of a 4-2 defeat in the penalty shoot-out after a scoreless two hours.
“The Galway game gave an opportunity for a number of our players to get some game time and they acquitted themselves quiet well,” said Horgan.
“We probably could have done without the extra-time, however, where we picked up a few injuries.”