Despite doubts over a number of players Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan is still relishing the challenge of this Friday night’s big Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup first round clash against Bohemians in Ballybofey (kick-off 8.00).
In the opposite dugout Keith Long has warned Bohemians that they will need to deliver a maximum performance to progress in the Cup.
It will be the third meeting of the two teams this season with a win each the record to date. Harps boss Horgan has confirmed that the versatile Gareth Harkin will be missing due to a back injury, while Danny Morrissey is still recovering from the hamstring problem that forced him off when Harps had a 2-1 league win over Bohs at Finn Park last month. Eddie Dsane is a big doubt after an illness that kept the in-form striker in hospital last weekend and Pascal Millien picked up a groin strain in training on Wednesday night.
For Bohs, Dan Casey with an ankle injury, Greg Murray (hand) and Eoin Wearen remain out. However Keith Long will be able to welcome Warren O’Hora back to the squad following concussion during their tremendous 1-0 win over previously unbeaten Cork City.
Horgan told finnharps.com “We’ve been here before in terms of a number of injuries but the lads are still looking forward to the different challenge of a cup game. Bohs are a very good side so I know the challenge is big, but we have to bounce back after the disappointing defeat in the league to Galway last Friday night.”
“Unfortunately, Gareth Harkin is out because of the back injury that forced him to come off in the first half of the Galway game. Danny Morrissey is still coming back from the hamstring injury and then Pascal Millien picked up a groin strain during the training last night. We have a few other lads with niggles that they have been struggling with but hopefully they should all right for tomorrow night. Eddie Dsane only got out of hospital on Tuesday so it would be a big ask for him to play against Bohs” Horgan said.”
The Harps boss says Bohemians is a side that are well capable of defeating the top teams in the Premier Division. “Bohs proved their pedigree by the two wins they had against Cork City and Shamrock Rovers in quick succession. They are still well enough positioned to have a go at getting a place in Europe. I have no doubt as well that Keith Long and Trevor Crolly would be looking at getting a run in the FAI Cup.”
“We have a great opportunity with home advantage to progress but it will be mighty tough against Bohs who will punish us if we’re not at the top of our game.”
“Derek Pender didn’t play against us in the last game in Ballybofey and will be a huge asset to them. They pose a serious threat in attack with the likes of Dinny Corcoran who put them ahead at Finn Park when we met last month. George Poynton and Keith Ward are quality players that we need to close down. Akinade is a real handful up front and we were very lucky to hold on for the win against them after he came on as a sub. There is no replay so it really sets it for a potentially very entertaining and competitive cup game.”
Ballybofey hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground for Bohs but with replays done away with this season until the quarter-final stage, Long feels there is a clarity to their objective tomorrow.
Long told bohemianfc.com “It’s a one-off tie. No replay is unusual and something we haven’t experienced in the FAI Cup.”
“But that brings clarity to the situation too. It’s going to be a real battle and we will be up for it.”
“It’s one of the toughest draws, one of the toughest opponents.There will be a big crowd behind Harps.”
“We’re going there as underdogs. Harps will be favourites, although Ollie Horgan will say differently.”
Bohs have faced Finn Harps twice already this season with the Gypsies claiming the spoils at Dalymount Park in April.
But they were left frustrated by their performance when the sides met in Ballybofey last month when a bolshy Harps display saw them come out 2-1 winners.
Bohs have picked themselves up since with seven points from their last three games but nobody is getting carried away.
Long said: “We know what to expect now after being up there last month.”
“They’re a good team with some excellent players. We know what’s in store for us. They will be hungry and we have to match that.”
“We’ll go there with an attacking mindset but the players need to channel their energy. It’s a one-off tie, so we can’t have anyone having an off-day.”
“There’s confidence in the team but we have to perform to the maximum.”
“If we play like we did the last time in Ballybofey, we will come away with nothing.”
“If we play like we have over the course of our last three games, we will give ourselves a chance.”
Bohs’ confidence levels received a further lift today when Fuad Sule was named the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for July.
The 20-year-old, who alongside Warren O’Hora and Oscar Brennan last week signed a new contract to remain at the club until the end of next season, hasn’t looked back since breaking into the first team in April.
But his performances in the memorable victories against Shamrock Rovers and Cork City last month stood out in particular.
Long added: “We are really pleased for Fuad. It’s a personal accolade that he deserves for the impact he’s made since coming into the team but it’s also recognition for the efforts of his team-mates too.”