An experimental Finn Harps side filled with triallists went down 2-1 to Cockhill Celtic at the Charlie O’Donnell Sports Ground on Saturday.
Cockhill Celtic 2
Finn Harps 1
The Ulster Senior League champions took the win thanks to goals from Aidan O’Donnell and Gerard McLaughlin, after Aaron Harkin’s deflected effort put Harps in front in the ninth minute.
Cockhill used the friendly match as preparation for their weekend clash against St Mochta’s in the FAI Intermediate Cup, while Harps manager Ollie Horgan cast an eye over a host of hopefuls.
Harps were the better side in the first half but as Donal O’Brien began to empty his bench after the break, the Buncrana-based hosts’ familiarities with one another meant they got on top.
Supporters of the Ballybofey club will be curious over the identity of a number of players.
Gareth Harkin, Johnny Bonner, Michéal Doherty and Gary Merritt have all played for the Finn Park outfit before, while David Shovlin, who played last season with Drumkeen United is a former Salthill Devon player.
So too was 6ft 6in goalkeeper, Alan Winn, who picked up a knock in the second half and with Harps having no substitute goalkeeper, Cockhill’s substitute Lee McCarron got an unexpected cameo.
Harps will take on Drumkeen United, the side who came second in the Ulster Senior League last season, on Wednesday evening at Finn Valley Athletic Centre, kicking-off at 7:30pm.
Horgan will again use the fixture to give a number of players a chance to earn a contract ahead of the beginning of the Airtricity League Division One season, which Harps will open with a home fixture against Waterford United on March 7.
In terms of pre-season, on Sunday, February 2, Harps face Cork City at Drom in Galway. They welcome Sligo Rovers to and the Irish International Schools team on Saturday 15 and Wednesday 19 before visiting Dundalk onFriday 28.
Cockhill Celtic: Gavin Cullen; Kieran McLaughlin (William O’Connor 63), Johnny Havlin, Oisin McColgan, Conor Keddy; Liam O’Donnell (Malachy McDermott 63, Garbhan Friel 86), Derek Doherty (Paul McKinney 46), Gerry Gill (Senan McColgan 46), Mark Moran; Aidan O’Donnell(Gerard McLaughlin 46), Garbhan Friel (Daniel Doherty 83).
Finn Harps: Conor Winn (Lee McCarron 73); Ryan Lonergan, David Shovlin, Conor O’Rourke, Gareth Harkin; Gary Merritt (Johnny Bonner 62), Aaron Harkin, Johnny Bonner (Matthew Henry 46), Micheál Doherty; Shane Buchanan (Jason Doherty 82), Jason Doherty (Brian McVeigh 46). Referee: George Cauldwell.