Harps look to build on Sligo result with first home points since July

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

In-form Bray Wanderers are the visitors to Finn Park on this Friday night (kick-off 8.00) with Ollie Horgan’s side remaining focused on getting enough points to avoid the play-off place in the League of Ireland Premier Division.

Wexford Youths currently occupy that spot, so the aim is to stay above Shane Keegan’s side.

However, that is going to be a very difficult ask against a side that has a better results record in the last two months than the top two teams in the Premier Division: Dundalk and Cork City, But Harps will go into the game in a happier frame of mind after the draw against Sligo Rovers on Tuesday night.

Harry Kenny has done a great job at the Carlisle Grounds and while there is no hope of European football this season, the Co. Wicklow team still want to finish as far up the Premier table as possible.

Harps haven’t picked up a point at home since early July so there is still a lot of pressure on the hosts to get something from this game on home turf.

In team news Horgan is going to be critically short of attacking options with striker Ruairi Keating definitely out after sustaining ankle ligament damage early in the first half against Sligo Rovers on Tuesday night.

Another forward, Dave Scully, is ruled out again as he completes a two-match suspension while veteran attacker Kevin McHugh will also be absent after sustaining a serious hand injury on Wednesday evening during an underage coaching session that he was conducting at the Aura. Adam Hanlon is also a doubt due to a persistent knee problem.

That would appear to signal that Ryan Curran will start up front with B.J. Banda as the back-up striker on the bench. On the plus side, Ciaran Coll is expected to return to the starting 11 after missing the Sligo trip due to a one-match ban and Tony McNamee could also feature from the start after being used as a sub on Tuesday night.

The manager will also have Tommy McMonagle back after the defender did not feature in the squad at the Showgounds and young Burt lad Mark Coyle will again be part of the matchday squad.

Ollie Horgan is hoping that Bray’s form dips in Ballybofey as the Wicklow side is on a 13-match unbeaten run. “The stats show that Bray actually has a better results record than Dundalk and Cork City recently. So that shows you the scale of the challenge that we are facing at Finn Park tomorrow night. Harry Kenny strengthened his squad mid-season with three or four quality signings. I saw them play recently and they were really impressive” Horgan said.

Diarmaid Doherty will have LIVE updates on Highland Radio this evening from Finn Park in association with McGettigans Applegreen, Lifford.