CIARAN Coll says Finn Harps face six ‘Cup finals’ between now and the end of the season.
Harps fell to third place in the First Division on Monday night when UCD defeated Athlone Town 3-1, but last week’s 1-0 win over Shelbourne means that Ollie Horgan’s team have a six-point advantage over the Reds.
With six games to play, Harps have one hand on a play-off berth.
Coll has been a model of consistency this season, whether at left-back or in the left wing-back role he has sometimes been deployed in by his manager.
The 24-year-old St Johnston man watched Harps as a youngster and is keenly aware of what promotion would mean around Navenny Street.
“We have six Cup finals to play and we’ll just take them one-by-one,” he says of the season’s run-in.
“We won’t look past the next game at all. It’s all about Cabinteely and getting three points there before going onto the next game.”
Harps have no game this weekend with the FAI Cup taking centre stage, but next week’s trip to Stradbrook begins that part of the season Sir Alex Ferguson, the former Manchester United manager, once dubbed ‘squeaky bum time’, with just two points between the top three sides – Wexford, UCD and Harps.
Coll says: “I’ve been here a good few years and I’d love to help get Finn Harps into the Premier Division.
“You look at the likes of Keith Fahey, Damien Duff, Colin Healy and these boys playing in the Premier Division. That’s where you want to be as a player and that’s where this club has to be, up against the top teams and the top players.”
Confidence on the field has never really been an issue for the full-back.
Before he left Kildrum Tigers for Heart of Midlothian in 2007, he appeared fleetingly for Raymond McDaid’s senior team at Station Road.
On the final day of the interim season in 2007 before the Ulster Senior League’s switch to summer football, Kildrum – with the title already in the bag – traveled to Drumkeen United.
They fielded only ten players that day, but McDaid was keen to preserve an unbeaten sequence of League games. With his team behind in a dead rubber fixture it was Coll, just 15 at the time, who stepped forth with a moment of magic, curling the sweetest of free-kicks over the wall and beyond the goalkeeper to rescue a draw.
It is perhaps one of his regrets from his Harps career that in 164 games he has managed just two goals – both against Salthill Devon in a seven-minute spell in 2012.
But those marauding raids down the left flank are a deadly weapon in Horgan’s arsenal, but Coll is equally menacing in the art of defending. The mainstay now in a Harps defence that has kept the sheet clean 14 times this season, Coll modestly deflects the credit the way of goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher.
He says: “It’s not just the back four – Ciaran Gallagher has been excellent in there. He’s had an outstanding season. He played in Wexford after his granny passed away that day; that was a mark of the man.
“The defence has chopped and changed a bit, but anyone who has come in has done a job.
“I’ve played in most games, but I don’t have my place nailed down becaue there are men who can play at left-back.”
He missed the entire 2010 season because of an injury sustained on the opening day, but has been ailment free since.
It is perhaps a mark of his reliability that he has been handed the role of vice-captain at Finn Park. With Kevin McHugh no longer a week-in, week-out man in the starting XI, Coll has worn the skipper’s armband numerous times now.
Coll says of the ace striker: “It’s unbelievable to have a man like that on the same team as you. He’s been brilliant. The leadership he has around the club is just amazing.”
Last week, McHugh’s penalty saw off Shelbourne – and gave Harps a massive shot in the arm.
Coll says: “We set out at the start of the night to get three points against Shelbourne. They’re a good side, but we were delighted to get the win. It’s just a case of one game down and six to go.”Tags: