OLLIE HORGAN IS NEVER in danger of getting ahead of himself.
After last night’s 1-0 win over UCD in the first leg of the First Division play-off, the Finn Harps manager insisted that his team must show a marked improvement for Friday’s return game in Ballybofey.
Ciaran Coll’s goal in the first minute means that it’s advantage Harps, but Horgan wasn’t exactly dancing a jig as he assessed a nervy 90 minutes at the D4 campus.
“It was a great result, but we would have concerns after our performance,” Horgan said afterwards.
“We weren’t good tonight. We rode out luck a lot. We came out on the right side of a 1-0 scoreline, but it could have been very different with the amount of chances that they had.
“I’d be a little bit disappointed with our performance, as are the players. We have a lot to do to improve because that performance won’t be good enough next week.
“They didn’t play well, but ground out a result. We’ll have to play well, and a hell of a lot better, next week.”
Although UCD had their chances, it wasn’t until the game clock was turning red that they fashioned clear-cut openings.
Ciaran Gallagher denied Jack Watson with a fine save when the UCD man broke clear while Mick Leahy poked inches wide.
“They pinned us back and it wasn’t our choice,” Horgan said.
“We were going long. When Robbie Benson came on, he added pace to them. If that had been a Cup game or a one-off League game we’d be thrilled, but the fact that it’s a two-legged game, I’d be concerned.
“Maybe we scored too early, but it was serious backs-to-the-wall stuff there. I’d say that UCD are scratching their heads there wondering how they didn’t score. Maybe that’s not a bad way to go into next week.”
Away goals don’t count in this tie, but Horgan has sought to temper the brimming confidence despite his side taking the advantage back to Ballybofey.
“We have a hell of a lot of thinking to do,” he said.
“We felt that we were prepared and ready. Yeah, we got a great result, but we didn’t play as well as we could play. I’ll look at the video, the lads are in for recovery in the morning and we’ll get them back in on Monday night.”
Horgan has some injury concerns to contend with in the coming days, but the soundings were positive on Damien McNulty’s shoulder and Kevin McHugh’s ankle.
Nathan Boyle missed out on a place in the starting XI because of a back injury, but Horgan hopes that the on-loan Derry City striker will be able to play in the second leg.
“He wanted to give it a go, but it would have been a massive risk,” Horgan said.
“Hopefully he’ll be ready to go for next week.”
Coll played in spite of tonsillitis, but he had to leave the action before the half-hour mark.
Horgan left Matthew Crossan – who came on for Coll – and Michael Funston out of his line-up, but noted that both could consider themselves ‘very unlucky’ not to have made the cut.
“None of those lads reacted badly,” Horgan said.
“In fact, they reacted very positively. That’s the way it needs to be if we’re to get over the line.”
Harps were roared on by a passionate away support at Belfield and club officials are readying Finn Park for a big home crowd when UCD visit on Friday night.
True to form, Horgan has appealed for caution.
“They were mighty tonight,” he said of a support that provided a constant wave of vocal support to their team.
“This game could go to the wire – it could go to extra time or penalties. They were brilliant tonight and have been brilliant all season.
“They need to be patient – this game is far from over. UCD will be confident leaving here because they had the measure of us.
“Please God, they won’t have as much possession next week, but that’s easier said than done.
“As the game went on we fell further and further behind, but to our lads’ credit they dug in. It wasn’t pretty, but they dug in.”Tags: