Finn Harps -v- Longford TownSat, Oct 13 2012
Finn Harps will be hoping to finish the season on a high with a win over Longford Town at Finn Park on Saturday. Harps’ unbeaten run was ended by Waterford United, before losing to SD Galway two weeks ago, which has left them in fifth position in the league table.
Manager Peter Hutton will be proud of his team’s efforts in the second half of the season, and will be hoping they can pick up three points at home in their final game.
He said: “Similarly to ourselves, they have been beaten in their last two games. But they’ll want to go into their play-off on the back of a good result to have their confidence up, so we’ll be expecting a fairly strong performance,” said Hutton of Longford. “That’s what you want, though. We wouldn’t want them coming up and not being competitive - it doesn’t do anybody any good.”
“It’s hard to believe it’s the last game of the season, it has fairly flown in,” he said. “It would be nice to finish off with a win, particularly because it’s also our final home game and we’d like to reward the fans who have been fairly loyal to us, especially when the times have been tough. From my point of view, I just want to see a good, solid ninety-minute performance. The last couple of displays we have let our standards drop; we have been complacent.”
Harps will be without long-term absentees Blain Curtis, Hugh Carlin and Stephen O’Donnell, while Adam Clarke is also a doubt.
With a playoff spot already secured, Longford Town will travel to Ballybofey with one eye on their playoff tie. Having been beaten by Limerick 2-0 last week, manager Tony Cousins will not have been pleased with his team’s performance.
Having led the league earlier this season, Longford suffered several defeats, including two home defeats against Harps, and have ultimately ended up in third place in the table, behind winners Limerick and Waterford United.
Although Longford have only recorded eight victories in 38 attempts at Finn Park, four of those wins have come in each of their last four visits to Ballybofey.
The three previous meetings between the sides this season have all finished in away wins.
Last week’s 2-0 defeat to SD Galway was the first time that Harps had failed to score in a match since losing 3-0 away to Limerick at the end of June. Harps haven’t failed to score at home since Waterford United left Finn Park with a 1-0 victory five months ago.
Cousins will be without the suspended duo Jamie Duffy and Willo McDonagh for the trip north, with Duffy being dismissed for two yellow cards against Limerick. He will also be sweating on the fitness of Des Hope, Jeff Flood, Noel Haverty, Gary Shaw and Daniel Purdy.
Referee: Raymond Matthews
Harps have won two of the last three meetings between the sides, with both wins coming in Flancare Park.
Kevin McHugh has equalled his best scoring season since he returned to Harps in 2009, with 12 goals.
Finn Harps 13/10; Draw 11/5; Longford Town 7/4
Finn Harps 2-1 Longford Town
Finn Harps Injury News: Stephen O’Donnell, Blain Curtis, Hugh Carlin (out – cruciate) Adam Clarke (doubtful)
Finn Harps Suspensions: None
Longford Town Injury News: Des Hope, Jeff Flood, Noel Haverty, Gary Shaw and Daniel Purdy (out)
Longford Town Suspensions: Willo McDonagh, Jamie Duffy
Rory Kelly is an up-and-coming journalist from Co. Donegal. He is currently studying Journalism and covers stories in the North-West. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or can be followed on Twitter at twitter.com/rorykelly46