A first win of the season remains Finn Harps’ priority but there are easier places to try and get it than Turner’s Cross.
Cork City are currently in second spot in the table - a point behind Shelbourne with a game in hand - having drawn three and won three of their six outings so far. Harps have only three points from a possible 12 and perhaps more worrying for manager James Gallagher is the fact his team have the same amount of dismissals as points.
After both Harps’ first two home fixtures of the campaign - against the highly-rated Limerick FC and Roddy Collins’ Monaghan United - there were certain positives and tales of what might have been. Leads had been squandered and there were numerous talking points. However, last weekend’s scoreless draw against lowly Salthill Devon was mediocre at best.
Marc Brolly, for a late challenge on Cian McBrian, was Harps’ third straight red card in those three home games. And while a case could have been made for Mark Forker after Limerick and perhaps not so much in regards Tommy Bonner for a push on Monaghan’s Sean Brennan, Brolly certainly seemed unfortunate.
But on a night of frustration for Gallagher, having seen his team draw a blank, the incident merely spraked the fire.
“The challenge from Marc was a little rash as he had just lost control of the ball and tried to get it back,” Gallagher said. “The Salthill defender made a meal of it and went down but whether he was injured or not, the referee was very quick to pull out the red card. He and Marc had words just beforehand and as soon as Marc fouled I thought possibly a yellow card, but out came the red. Things like that really do leave you scratching your head.”
Brolly has now picked up an automatic one-match ban and will miss Friday’s encounter by the Lee. Last week Harps had a number of absentees with injury, but those have more or less resolved with only long-term injured Garbhan Grant definitely out, as well as Gareth Harkin and Raymond Foy.
Former Coleraine midfielder Harkin reacted badly to prescription he had been taking for his a troublesome ankle. Seventeen-year-old Foy also sustained an ankle injury, in his case against Salthill, and could be sidelined for up to a month.
Aside that, Gallagher hopes to welcome Paddy McLaughlin and Tommy Bonner back to the fray for their fifth league outing. From the four that have gone before now, Gallagher feels tomorrow’s night’s encounter will be most similar to the game against Waterford United.
“It’s very tough having to go to Cork and in many ways it will be similar to the fixture away to Waterford United,” Gallagher added, recalling his own side’s 1-0 loss at the RSC. “By all accounts Waterford were very unlucky to lose (by two goals to one) last weekend against Cork.
“From our point of view, we came up a little short in Waterford and have learned from that before Cork. What we are looking for is a disciplined performance defensively and that’s something we have worked on. If we defend well then a chance or two might come our way and it’s up to us to capitalise on that opportunity if it does.”