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Derry hoping for good cup omen in derby clash with Harps at Finn Park

Finn Harps and Derry City meet at Finn Park, Ballybofey on Friday night in the second round of the FAI Cup Picture: Margaret McLaughlin
BY CHRIS ASHMORE

FAI Cup second round: Finn Harps v Derry City (tonight, Finn Park, 8pm)

THE last time that Derry City won the FAI Cup was in 2012, and on the way to the final they thumped Finn Harps 4-0 in a second round clash.

Certainly, the Candystripes will be hoping that history will repeat itself when they make the short trip across the border this evening to take on the Donegal side at Finn Park.

Both Harps and Derry won their first round ties the hard way, with the former having to go to extra-time before they saw off Limerick junior side Fairgreen Rangers (3-0) while the latter only came through after a penalty shoot-out away to Drogheda United.

And given that the two teams both go into this game on the back of fine runs (Harps have four wins in a row in all competitions while for Derry the figure is five), it will be no surprise if this second round derby clash goes beyond the 90 minutes.

Typically, Harps boss Ollie Horgan is playing down his side’s chances and stressing that Derry will be the favourites.

Once again the attendance will be capped due to Covid-19 restrictions, but Horgan knows there will still be a decent atmosphere.

“Okay there will be 800 fans there, but in normal times, this would have been a great night of cup action with maybe 3,000 or 4,000 people at the match. It’s just a pity that there won’t be more fans allowed in to see it. But so be it. It should still be a decent game and we’re looking forward to it.”

If Harps can reproduce the form they showed in last week’s impressive 3-1 win over St. Patrick’s Athletic, they must be in with a chance of what could be a first ever FAI cup win over their neighbours.

The sides have met just four times in this competition down through the years, with City coming out on top on each occasion and without conceding a goal.

And the visitors will have their homework done on Harps, and man-of-the-moment striker Tunde Owolabi who got a hat-trick last week.

Derry boss Ruairdhi Higgins along with first team coach Paddy McCourt were in Ballybofey last Friday to watch Harps.

Meanwhile, last Saturday Horgan made the trip to the Showgrounds and saw Derry beat Sligo Rovers 2-1.

“Derry keep the ball well, they don’t give it up easily,” he said.

“It was a good win in Sligo, and the previous week’s win over Dundalk was probably an even better result.”

Cameron McJannett and James Akintunde are expected to return for Derry having missed the Sligo game.

Horgan shuffled his defence last week to deal with the absence of Kosovar Sadiki and Shane McEleney and it will be interesting to see what changes he makes.

This is the third meeting of the two sides this season.

Harps chalked up a first ever league win at the Brandywell back in May with a 2-1 success while in June Derry won by the same scoreline in Ballybofey.

Horgan has been Harps’ most successful manager against Derry, and the gulf that existed between the teams has certainly been narrowed in recent years.

Interestingly, the bookies have Harps at 20/1 to win the competition outright while Derry are an 18/1 shot.

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