Football/Soccer

Finn Harps and Drogheda meet in Airtricity League 'six-pointer'

Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan plans without Ciaran O’Connor, who has gone out on loan to Bohemians Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
By Chris Ashmore

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division: Drogheda United v Finn Harps (Friday, 7.45pm)

FORMER Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy could be in the stands to watch Drogheda United at home to Finn Harps in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division on Friday.

However, the Ipswich Town boss is not on a scouting mission to see anyone on either side. The Championship club is currently in Ireland as part of its pre-season preparations and he’ll be casting an eye over Drogheda as the Portman Road outfit take on the Co Louth club in a friendly tomorrow at 2pm.

For both Harps and Drogheda this evening’s game falls into the proverbial six-pointer category as the fight to avoid the drop looks increasingly likely to involve five teams.

Harps go into the game hovering just above the relegation zone on 18 points, a point ahead of Drogheda and St Patrick’s Athletic, with a game in hand on both and also the side immediately above them, Sligo Rovers (20 points).

The Donegal side has two games in hand on bottom club Galway United (16 points) as the battle to stay up begins to really intensify.

Harps have failed to score in their last three outings and have collected just a point, while Drogheda are without a win in their last 10. Indeed, their last league victory was in Ballybofey when they chalked up a 2-0 win in April.

Reflecting on that game, Harps manager Ollie Horgan said: “Drogheda might be just below us in the table but they beat us comfortably in Ballybofey earlier in the season.

“We didn’t have a shot on target that night. It wasn’t as if we are that poor but they just dominated that game.

“Drogheda have plenty of very good players like Sean and Gavin Brennan, Stephen Elliott and Sean Thornton so we’re going to really have to be at the top of our game to get a result at United Park. We will have to improve on the last performance.”

Horgan must plan without the club’s leading scorer this season, Ciaran O’Connor. His loan period from Dundalk expired at the end of last week and the talented rising star has now gone out on loan to Bohemians.

Danny Morrissey is expected to lead the Harps attack with Eddie Dsane and BJ Banda likely to figure at some stage. Pascal Millien, the Haiti international, is also expected to be given some game time.

While there are no suspensions, central defender Packie Mailey, along with midfield veterans Barry Molloy and Paddy McCourt, are struggling to be fit for the away trip.

Mailey missed the last game in Dundalk due to injury while Molloy only came on for the latter stages of the 4-0 defeat at Oriel Park.

Horgan is still trawling for players to strengthen the squad now that the transfer window is open.

But cash-strapped Harps are struggling to make ends meet at the moment, not least because of the summer break and postponement of the recent Derry City game.

When they take on Bohemians at home next weekend, it will be only their second home league game in an eight-week period.

FRIDAY FIXTURES

(all games 7.45pm)

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division 

Drogheda Utd v Finn Harps; Galway Utd v Limerick FC 

SSE Airtricity League First Division

Athlone Town v Shelbourne; Cabinteely v Cobh Ramblers; UCD v Longford Town; Waterford v Wexford

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