- Furlong makes all the difference
SHANE Keegan, the Wexford Youths manager, wasn’t exaggerating after Friday’s 2-0 win over Finn Harps when he hailed two-goal hero Danny Furlong as the best in the country.
Furlong’s deadly double in the first half shot Wexford above Harps at the top of the table.
His first, on 18 minutes, had a little touch of good fortune, but his second came from a well-orchestrated move that saw Andy Mulligan’s pinpoint cross headed home from six yards.
They’re goals that will have Ollie Horgan, the Finn Harps manager, pulling his hair out when he reviews the footage, particularly given the space afforded to Furlong, a player Horgan always lists as among the Division’s danger men.
“I think he’s the best finisher in the country at any level,” Keegan said.
“His all-round game is very good. He works so hard and that’s great to see.”
The strikes take Furlong onto 19 goals for the season.
Contrast that with Harps, whose top three goalscorers – Kevin McHugh (5), Ruairi Keating (5) and Wilfried Tagbo (4) – have a combined tally of 14.
- Waters shows enough promise
THE signing last week of Rob Waters caused something of a stir among Harps supporters.
Waters parted company with Cobh Ramblers in the middle of last month.
Horgan, desperate to add goals to his team, drove to Cork last Wednesday to sign the player, who initially pledged a commitment to play Harps’ final four away games – Wexford, Cobh, Cabinteely and Athlone.
Fans were concerned at the arrangement, but needs must and, while naturally a little rusty, there was enough about Waters in Wexford to suggest that he could be a useful addition.
Friday was the first time he’d met his new team-mates and although it was a frustrating evening, his touch and endeavour couldn’t be faulted.
If Horgan could manage to have his man in Ballybofey for a couple of games, it could well be the difference for his side.
Picture caption: Finn Harps’ Matthew Crossan in action against Wexford Youths, courtesy of Gary Foy.
- Harps suffer in McNulty’s absence
THE signing of Damien McNulty in January 2013 was certainly one of the more astute pieces of business of Peter Hutton’s tenure as Finn Harps manager.
McNulty has been a rock in the Harps defence ever since.
This season, McNulty has been absent for seven games – and Harps have won just one of them, the 1-0 away win at Wexford in April.
McNulty wasn’t in the team the night John McKeown netted a 95th minutes equaliser for Cabinteely in May, while the back-to-back League losses against Athlone and Wexford were suffered without McNulty.
On Friday, there was certainly a sense that McNulty’s no-nonsense approach would have been welcomed on a night that saw Harps concede two goals of the schoolboy variety.
- Long hauls inhibiting Harps
IN eleven away games this season, Harps have won just four times – two of those against bottom-of-the-table Waterford and another against third-from-bottom Cobh.
Harps have lost four of their last five away fixtures and it is perhaps not unreasonable to suggest that Harps have been hit with bus-lag as the miles clock up.
Last year, their tachograph read 11,686 kilometres.
Harps have the most arduous travel in the Division. When you consider that the fixtures against Athlone Town are the closest things resembling a derby that Harps have it shows just how strenuous the travel is.
Take in, too, that Harps are traveling to and from games on the same day and it only adds to the burden. It was a point touched on by veteran Harps director Seamus Gallagher after Friday’s game.
The catch 22 for Harps, though, is the cost of an overnight stay for the squad.
- An uphill battle now for Harps’ promotion hopes
HAVING relinquished their perch at the top of the First Division, it doesn’t get any easier for Harps as they head into the final quarter of the season – put another way, that’s another seven games.
They welcome Shelbourne to Finn Park on Friday night in a game that is now touching ‘must-win’ territory.
Wexford are two points ahead of Harps at the top with a game less played, while UCD’s 5-1 pummelling of Waterford United means that Collie O’Neill’s Students are two points behind Harps – with two games in hand.
Given that Shelbourne are also breathing down their necks heading down the home straight, it all means that Ollie Hogan’s team face a massive battle to keep their promotion hopes alive over the next two months.Tags: