Harps take on Cliftonville in friendly tonight

Seamus Sharkey will be part of the Finn Harps side that take on Cliftonville tonight at Solitude in a friendly.

Seamus Sharkey will be part of the Finn Harps side that take on Cliftonville tonight at Solitude in a friendly.

Central defender Sharkey played with Harps for a spell in the summer of 2009 and was also on the books of Letterkenny Rovers and Derry City, whom he played with last season, before departing for Australia. The 21-year-old is currently in talks with Harps director of football Felix Healy and manager Peter Hutton.

With no league fixture over the weekend, a new-look Harps managed an encouraging 1-1 friendly draw against Irish League side Glentoran at Finn Park on Saturday.

John Paul Gallagher and Hutton both appeared for the Ballybofey club, while Stephen O’Donnell, who played under Anthony Gorman in 2006, made his second debut. Hutton and Gallagher will play again tonight, although O’Donnell will be an absentee with work commitments. All three are looking to build up their match fitness and are eligible to play for Harps when the transfer window opens on July 1st. Harps take on Salthill Devon on Saturday at Drom, minus the suspended Aaron McElwee and Paddy McLaughlin, while Packie Mailey is expected to be out for four to six weeks with a foot injury.

With a large following from Belfast among the 300 crowd on Saturday, it was the side from the Oval that took an early lead. After three minutes, Jimmy Callacher was taken down by James Doherty and Matthew Burrows was on hand to tuck home the penalty.

Then, four minutes later, Kevin McHugh was taken down on the edge of the penalty area and the former Linfield striker dusted himself down to steer the free-kick around the wall and low in by Elliot Morris’s left-hand post for a fine leveller.

Gareth Harkin, who showed a lot of nice touches, then shot marginally over, while Matthew Johnston drew a save from Ciaran Gallagher. The other main chances of note were passed up by Paddy McLaughlin for Harps and Burrows of Glentoran.

The former Derry City defender Hutton slotted in at centre-back after the break and brought a touch of experience to his side. Owen Beggs had a great shot, having taken the ball down on his chest, but it flew just over for Glentoran, while Keith Cowan and substitute Oisin McMenamin both passed up headed opportunities to win it for Harps.

“It was a good work-out and things are starting to take shape, which has been apparent in the last three or four days,” Healy said yesterday. “Stephen O’Donnell had been out for a month or so with a hamstring injury, Peter hasn’t played in a couple of months and John Paul only featured in the friendly (3-0 win) against Letterkenny Rovers, so we needed to get these lads some football.

“We will have a look at a few things against Cliftonville as we will be missing a couple of players against Salthill at the weekend. Seamus will be playing in the game and he’s someone that we are talking to at the minute.”

Finn Harps: Ciaran Gallagher, James Doherty, Paddy McLaughlin, Keith Cowan, John Paul Gallagher, Mark Forker, Thomas Bonner, Aaron McElwee, Gareth Harkin, Blain Curtis, Kevin McHugh.

Subs used: Ciaran Coll, Peter Hutton, Gary Merritt, Stephen O’Donnell, Chris Patton (46), Oisin McMenamin, Raymond Foy (70).

Glentoran: Elliot Morris, Colin Nixon, Richard Clarke, Sean Ward, Aidan O’Kane, Johnny Taylor, Jimmy Callacher, Jim O’Hanlon, Matthew Johnston, Matthew Burrows, Jason Hill. Subs: Calum Birney, John McGuigan, Kyle Cherry, Owen Beggs, Martin Murray, Tim McCann.