It’s a huge match for Finn Harps tonight in Ballybofey (kick-off 8.00) as a victory over St. Patrick’s Athletic would go a long way to securing the club’s place in the League of Ireland Premier Division next season.
However, Ollie Horgan’s men don’t have a good record against the Dublin outfit in 2016 losing 1-0 at Finn Park and then 4-0 at Inchicore in May.
Pat’s who recently won the EA Sports Cup still have an outside chance of European football come to Ballybofey after inflicting a heavy 4-1 defeat on Wexford Youths.
It was a result that was hugely significant from a Harps perspective as it puts eight points between the two teams with just four league games remaining.
So the scene is set for yet another crucial game and a big crowd is anticipated to get behind the part-time outfit who are attempting to defy the pundits’ predictions at the start of the season that Harps were odds-on favourites to be relegated back to the First Division.
After taking four points from the last two games against Sligo Rovers and Bray Wanderers home fans are really forward to visit of Pat’s who play a really attractive brand of football and on their day can inflict heavy defeats on opposing teams as Horgan is keen to point out. “St. Pat’s are classy side. They hammered us 4-0 up at Inchicore and Liam Buckley has some really serious talent in their squad. On form Pat’s can defeat any team with likes of Conan Byrne, Mark Timlin and Christy Fagan playing at their best. Attacking ways they are excellent” Horgan said.
While the Harps manager acknowledged that the recent draw and win has lifted his players he is concerned about the number of games in a short space of time for a part-time panel. “Look we played away in Galway and Sligo and then home to Bray on Friday night. That was all in the space of six days. We definitely tired in the closing stages against Bray and now we’re playing a serious team that Pat’s are tomorrow night. Our boys will certainly find it hard to cope with the short recovery between Friday and Tuesday” Horgan said.
Horgan emphasised the importance of the supporters to helping drive the team on- “The supporters have been great, even after the bad run we had they were still there, travelling the country with us and they got right behind us on Friday night. The job isn’t finished yet and we need the supporters to help us finish it off”.
The manager has confirmed that keeper Richard Brush and Packie Mailey are doubts for tomorrow night as is Adam Hanlon who has been struggling with a tight hamstring in recent weeks. Josh Mailey who came on as a second half sub against Bray will not be available as he has returned to his college studies in the UK while both Ruairi Keating (ankle ligaments) and Kevin McHugh (hand) are definitely out of the squad. That means B.J. Banda and Mark Coyle and possibly one or two more from the U19 squad will be in the panel. Horgan is in no doubt about the significance of the game for his team.
“It’s a massive match for us and we want to get the three points that would bring us a bit closer to our goal of staying in the Premier Division. We had good support for the Bray game and so for the players it’s vital now that the fans come out in big numbers to support us against Pat’s tomorrow night” Horgan concluded.