Red-tape could stall Harps in Athlone

Finn Harps player-manager Peter Hutton was last night still awaiting international clearance on new signings Mark Scoltock and Michael Funston ahead of Friday’s trop to Athlone Town (kick-off 7.45pm).

Finn Harps player-manager Peter Hutton was last night still awaiting international clearance on new signings Mark Scoltock and Michael Funston ahead of Friday’s trop to Athlone Town (kick-off 7.45pm).

Harps re-signed the duo at the end of June with Letterkenny native Funston coming from Dungannon Swifts and Scoltock arriving from Institute.

Hutton knew neither player was able to represent the Ballybofey club until the transfer window opened in July and had expected them to be available for last Saturday’s home fixture against Mervue United at Finn Park.

However, with Harps having completed all the necessary paperwork, neither player had received clearance and were therefore ineligible to play and that remained the case yesterday.

“It’s very frustrating to say to least,” Hutton said. “We still don’t have the boys cleared and we’ve done all we can at this end. God knows when they will be available with the bureaucracy involved but hopefully it’ll be sorted sooner rather than later so we can get them involved.”

Without the duo, Harps still had enough for Galway side Mervue last weekend, coming out on top in an entertaining encounter by three goals to two.

Harps led 2-0 thanks to goals from Paul McVeigh and Kevin McHugh before the visitors clawed their way back to parity following two Alan Murphy goals.

However, Harps regained their composure and McVeigh, who had never scored a senior goal before the game, netted his second of the evening 67 minutes in.

“We probably made harder work of it than we meant to,” Hutton said of the win. “We started well and got ourselves two goals in front. Mervue came back but we showed some good resilience to get the result and that’s always pleasing.”

McVeigh will not be available for the trip to the midlands on Friday as he is away lining out for Letterkenny Institute of Technology at Cordoba University in Spain, representing Ireland in the European Universities Sport Association (EUSA) Games.

Harps must alos plan without Thomas McBride, who was slapped with a seven-game following his sending off in the 3-0 loss against Limerick a fortnight ago.

“Thomas had to face the consequence for his actions and it’s something he will have to grow up about and learn from the experience,” Hutton said of the midfielder’s ban, after his second straight red card of the campaign.

Ciaran Coll, the left-back, is a doubt with a knock he picked up against Mervue but Hutton and club’s physio were planning to run the rule over the St Johnston native last night at training.

Athlone have got the better of Harps this term, posint a 2-0 win when the sides first met in March and then winning 2-1 in Ballybofey in May.

Manager Mike Kerley has been strengthening his hand of late with the signings of former Harps midfielder Barry O’Mahoney, as well as Stephen Last, Eric Molloy and Tommy Barrett.