No siesta as Harps face high-flying Limerick

Vicente del Bosque’s novel approach of lining out without any strikers is something Finn Harps manager Peter Hutton could understand.

Vicente del Bosque’s novel approach of lining out without any strikers is something Finn Harps manager Peter Hutton could understand.

However, unlike the Spain boss, who opts to flood the midfield with ball-players, Hutton had little option over the last month or so with suspensions and injuries - but will at least be content to welcome two frontmen back tomorrow night for his side’s trip to Jackman Park to take on Limerick FC (kick-off 7.45pm).

Kevin McHugh and Adam Clarke were both red-carded in former director of football Felix Healy’s last match in charge at Wexford Youths and obtained respective four and three-match suspensions. As McHugh served the last match of his ban, Clarke was available for a recall last weekend but was on holiday as Hutton’s team went down by three goals to one at home to league leaders Longford Town.

Goals from Karl Bermingham and Gary Shaw put the midlanders two goals up before Matthew Harkin pulled one back right on 45 minutes. Colm James made the game safe for Longford with a 71st minute penalty rebound after the luckless Ciaran Gallagher had saved the original effort. It was Harps’ seventh defeat in eight games - a worrying run of form.

Forwards like Stephen O’Donnell, Hugh Friel and Blain Curtis are all been ruled out for the season with cruciate injuries, so Tommy Bonner had to start playing off Paul McVeigh in an unconventional front pairing. Both men certainly tried their best but it wasn’t their normal abodes.

“It was tough over the last month and it will be a welcome boost to get Kevin and Adam back on board on Friday night,” Hutton said looking forward to the game with secon- placed Limerick. “It was interesting to see Spain copy our tactics at Euro 2012 all the same!”

Harps face an awkward proposition against a Limerick side that have already beaten them twice in the league this season. On Monday night, Pat Scully’s team defeated Bray Wanderers by three goals to one to seal their place in the semi-final of the EA Sports League Cup.

“It’s certainly a tough one,” Hutton said of Limerick. “At the best of times Limerick are a difficult task and they took a great run of form into the break and have continued that since getting back at it.

“They have quality and experience and, of course, the financial backing. They’re odds on for the title and you can see why. They’re a very good side. We’ve not been getting the results of later ourselves but the performances from a young team have been alright but as I said, we’re glad to at least have some attacking options for the first time in a while.”

Jackman Park was the venue where Keith Cowan broke his foot during the first night of the season and the central defender made his first appearance since as a second half substitute last weekend. Cowan will not start on Sunday but he may get some game time on Sunday when Harps entertain Irish League outfit Cliftonville at Finn Park, kicking-off at 2pm.

New signings Michael Funston and Marc Scoltock will line out on their respective returns to the club in that match and will be available for league action for the visit of Mervue United on Saturday week.