Flashback - Packie Mailey celebrates after his goal in the cup semi-final of 2014.
FAI Cup semi-finalists three years ago, Finn Harps are back on the cup trail this Friday night when they meet Bohemians in the first round of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup (kick off 8pm).
It’s one of three all-Premier Division ties in the opening round and in a change to the format of the competition, all first round ties must be finished on the night, meaning there will be no replays.
Should Friday night’s game be level after 90 minutes, extra-time and if necessary, penalties will follow.
For Harps, the visit of Bohs presents a difficult cup challenge. Ollie Horgan’s side might have beaten the Gypsies 2-1 in their recent league meeting in Ballybofey, but Harps are unlikely to be at full-strength tomorrow night.
If Harps’ recent record in this competition is anything to go by, home fans might not be approaching this weekend’s game with any great deal of confidence.
Their team has failed to get past the first hurdle in the competition in each of the last two seasons.
After being beaten by St. Patrick’s Athletic in the FAI Cup semi-final in 2014, Harps went out in the opening round the following year, losing on penalties to Longford Town in a replay at Finn Park.
Last year was perhaps even more disappointing as Ollie Horgan’s men were humbled at home by non-league Crumlin United. Speaking this week, Horgan said that was a result that hurt.
“We were devastated after we were beaten by Crumlin,” he said.
“We did not want to lose that tie, but if you remember, we were beaten by a very good side that had Shane Supple and Greg Moorehouse and people like that.
“In hindsight, it probably helped that we went out of the cup and could concentrate on the league after that. But believe me, it wasn’t what we wanted and we were very disappointed.”
So what way will Horgan and Harps be approaching this Friday night’s game? Harps are once again, embroiled in a real battle to avoid the drop and survival in the Premier Division will surely take priority once again.
“We’ll be trying to beat Bohs,” Horgan said.
“Whatever team we end up going with on Friday night, we’re going out to win the game.”
Horgan said the decision to do away with first round replays is a strange one.
“What if we had been away to Bohs, picked up a draw and got a replay. It would mean that we’d be denied a chance to play them at home, in front of a good crowd. It means we would lose out on a decent gate, so I’m not sure if it’s something I’d welcome.”
Horgan said he will decide on his team closer to Friday night, but is likely to be without Damien McNulty who is set to serve a one-game ban. Eddie Dsane is also set to miss out after spending the weekend in hospital (see story elsewhere on this page) while Gareth Harkin was taken off in the Galway United game after injuring his back.
Horgan does have options within the squad with Jonny Bonner, BJ Banda, Ibrahim Keita, Pascal Millien, Tommy McBride and new signing, goalkeeper Peter Burke, all possibilities to come into the team.
In the other all-Premier Division games, Derry City are away to Dundalk on Sunday, and Bray host Cork City on Saturday.