Bouncing back against Derry would be big boost for Harps

Ruairi Keating. photo: Stephen Doherty
Ruairi Keating. photo: Stephen Doherty

After a recent run of disappointing results Finn Harps will be aiming to bounce back against Derry City in Ballybofey on this Friday night (kick-off 8.00) in what promises to be an intriguing North West Derby.

While the record of Ollie Horgan’s side against the Candystripes has been good this season it will still be the visitors who are favorites to take the three points. Harps have a win and a draw from the previous two meetings in the campaign which is very encouraging and no doubt the manager will using that a motivational tool to preserve that unbeaten record in the final clash between the local rivals in 2016.

On the other hand Kenny Shiels will come to Finn Park for three points after drawing their last two games against Sligo Rovers and St. Patrick’s Athletic. But with Cork City and Dundalk both stuttering following their European exploits a title challenge may be back on the cards, especially with Cork City coming to the Brandywell on Monday.

Horgan will again be without Damian McNulty and Gareth Harkin due to knee problems while Ruairi Keating is suspended after accumulating five bookings. It means that there will be at least one change from the defeat at Dalymount Park on Friday night with Dave Scully, Ryan Curran and Kevin McHugh all contenders to start up front in place of the Mayo man.

Derry also have injury concerns over central defenders Ryan McBride and Aaron Barry while striker Rory Patterson who has scored in each of the two league games against Harps this season is also a doubt.

Despite a decent result records against Kenny Shiels' side this season Ollie Horgan insists that his team need to show a vast improvement after losing their last three matches to have any chance against the Candystripes. “Derry have had an excellent season and are up at the top of the table for a reason. We were fortunate to get a draw in the Brandywell earlier in the season, especially with the second half performance that Derry put in. We have lost our last three games and would need a huge improvement on Friday to have any chance of getting something out of the game”, Horgan said.

So another bumper attendance is expected at Finn Park between two sides with very different agendas. Harps are looking to get back on track to secure their Premier Division status after those three recent defeats while Derry want to strengthen their bid for European football next season.