THE BOOS and the general disgruntlement could not be ignored.
As Ray Matthews, the referee, shrilled the final whistle, a dark Ballybofey night felt as if it had been plunged into a permanent blackness, with Finn Harps falling to a seventh defeat in a row.
Picture caption: Finn Harps defender Ciaran Coll climbs high in this battle for possession. Picture by Gary Foy, newsandsportfiles
The crowd, however many of them were there by the time the 95th minute had been played, could hold in the frustration no more and a 1-0 defeat by Longford Town, a result that was unthinkable beforehand, tipped them over the edge.
“Obviously people weren’t happy and I don’t blame them,” Harps manager Ollie Horgan told Donegal Sport Hub after seeing his side beaten and without a goal yet again.[adrotate group=”50″]
“They did put in a shift tonight. It wasn’t for the lack of trying or effort; yes, it might have been for a lack of quality, especially in the final third, but we came off there nights against Dundalk and Derry City where we pulled up early and didn’t empty the tank. At least the lads tonight gave everything. I can’t very well criticise them there for a lack of effort.
“We’re on a very bad run and the heads are down in there. The confidence isn’t great, but we have to soldier on and turn it sooner rather than later.”
Harps are over 11 hours without a goal now, 672 minutes if you include the 21 minutes that were played of the then abandoned Sligo Rovers game.[adrotate group=”38″]
Ruairi Keating’s 81st minute penalty, an attempt that was saved by Longford ‘keeper Ryan Coulter, was a microcosm of the general form Harps are in right now.
Two months ago, Harps seemed inches from safety and now, with Wexford Youths only four points adrift, there is a real fear that the morgue awaits.
Horgan, who was irritable and prickly during his post-match press duties, said: “A lot of people didn’t want to hear it, but we were always going to be in a relegation battle.[adrotate group=”46″]
“I did expect it to be: one good week; one poor week; one good week; one poor week. The way it has panned out we have had some great weeks in a row and now some very poor weeks in a row.
“We are where we thought we’d be but not in the manner of how we got there.”
Horgan made four changes to his team, but it was the absence of Ciaran Gallagher and Tony McNamee from the starting XI that raised the most noise around the ground, the manager saying: “We played a different type of game and a different system. We changed things around for that reason.”
Harps have little time to lick their wounds with in-form Cork City arriving down Navenny Street on Monday night.[adrotate group=”37″]
Horgan said: “It’s been hard to lift them if we had two weeks off. It doesn’t get any easier. Cork City are flying. If we were flying it would be difficult. We have to set up to get something out of it, or else we’ll run out of games.
“If we had got a goal, it might have turned things. We have tried a number of things to turn it and it hasn’t happened yet. I can’t fault them for effort tonight. That little bit of quality, maybe…We didn’t make Ryan Coulter save any of them apart from the penalty, but we’ll keep going.”
Listen to the full interview below …