Finn Harps go into season-defining three-game run
League of Ireland Premier Division basement side Finn Harps face three games in the next eight days that could have a major bearing on whether they stay in the top flight this season.
Ollie Horgan's charges take on a Galway United side who are above them only on goal difference in tonight's clash at Eamonn Deacy Park (kick-off 7.45pm) and then host St Patrick's Athletic at Finn Park on Monday evening before having another home game, against Limerick, next Friday.
Having slumped to four defeats on the trot, the pressure is now really on to turn things around, not least because with three sides being relegated the battle to survive is really intensifying as the season approaches the half-way point.
Galway have won only once this season in the league, but last week ended runaway leaders Cork City's 100 per cent start to the campaign with a 1-1 draw.
"While they are bottom of the table with ourselves, Galway are going to be very difficult with the form they are in at the moment," Horgan said.
"They had a great win over Dundalk and probably should have beaten Cork last Friday night.
"It's going to be difficult without a doubt to get a result down there but we'll have to really tighten up defensively to get anything from the game. In the last match between us at Finn Park back in March, Galway really gave us the run around in the second half. We were lucky to get a draw that night. The likes of Ronan Murray and Kevin Devaney are really top standard players. I feel that Galway are in a completely false position with the squad of players that they have" he added.
Harps have been plagued by injuries in recent weeks, and this has certainly impacted on the team's results.
Paddy McCourt, who has played with a hip problem over the past month, may be pressed into action yet again although Horgan says the ex-Celtic man will need a rest at some stage.
Strikers Eddie Dsane and BJ Banda remain on the long term absentee list, but both Packie Mailey and Jonny Bonner have returned to training although they are unlikely to feature against Galway.
Worryingly for the Donegal club, they have failed to score in the last four matches. That said, the first choice strike-force of Danny Morrissey and Ciaran O'Connor have not played together for 90 minutes during this lean spell.
O'Connor played the full game in the 3-0 home defeat by Bray last week – but rarely got going and looked a pale shadow of the player who scored four goals in his first six games. Morrissey came on for the final seven minutes last weekend but needs match time. Horgan will be hoping that the pair can rediscover their early season form.
Harps have beaten Galway only once in their last ten meetings. Given the league standings, this falls into the proverbial six-pointer category so the bottom line for Harps is to avoid defeat.