NOT THAT LONG ago, Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan said he’d be happy if his side had something to play for by the time Wexford Youths came to Ballybofey.
As it happens, that’s not entirely the case but that’s not to say Harps have fallen short in their ambitions. Shane Keegan’s side will undertake their final outing of the campaign as champions on Saturday evening at Finn Park.
Harps mightn’t have won the silverware but they’re in the next best position they could’ve hoped for. Second placed was cemented three weeks ago and now Horgan know that UCD at Belfield next Friday are the first step on the promotion-relegation roller-coaster.
The home leg will follow seven days’ later and whoever comes through that tie will then face the team second from bottom in the Premier Division over two legs.
“We prepare for every game the same as the last game although we hope to get lads game time that were out last week,” Horgan said.
Last week’s 1-1 draw at Athlone Town fitted its purpose.
Well aware in the lead-up to his team’s penultimate clash in the SSE Airtricity League Division One was essentially a dead-rubber, Horgan used the evening in Lisseywollen to give gametime to some of those who needed it, namely Packie Mailey and Damien McNulty.
Conor Keddy and Gareth Doherty earned first appearances for the Ballybofey club, while BJ Banda and Kieran McDaid started for the first time.
Matthew Crossan’s goal levelled out an Athlone opener from Gavin Boyne and all in all, nobody left overly disappointed with a point.
“Athlone are a strong side and any result down there is good,” said Horgan. “We weren’t at our best in the second half in particular and were lucky in the end to get a point. However, it was good to see a few of our younger players stepping up to the first team and doing well.”
Horgan has the suspended foursome of Tony McNamee, Wilfried Tagbo, Ciaran Coll and Kevin McHugh (pictured above by Gary Foy) available again, although the latter is a doubt for Saturday’s game, as is Raymond Foy.
Harps are currently unbeaten in their last six matches.