Finn Harps’ top scorer Sean McCarron is their biggest worry ahead of the visit of Longford Town to Finn Park on Saturday night (kick-off 7.45pm).
McCarron scored twice in last Friday’s 4-1 win over Cobh Ramblers at Finn Park, adding to his goal on opening night at Waterford United’s RSC. However, he bobbled off after only 52 minutes of the win over Cobh with an ankle knock.
McCarron was playing with a real verve and confidence and was part of the offensive unit that was cutting through the Munster side with ease.
“Sean hasn’t trained since Friday after he went over on his ankle,” Harps manager Peter Hutton said this week. “The fact the game is on a Saturday means Sean has another 24 hours and that might make the difference.
“Mickey McGlynn, our physio will have a look at Sean’s ankle, which might have ligament strain but we didn’t hang about last week and took him off when it was clear he wouldn’t have been able to run it off.”
Aside McCarron’s brace, Kevin McHugh was also on target twice in an extremely positive opening for the north-westerners against a Cobh side that landed in Ballybofey in cars.
“We were delighted to get the three points as Cobh are certainly something of an unknown quantity at this stage of the season, particularly after their opening 5-0 win against Wexford Youths,” Hutton added.
“We started well, scoring two goals in the first seven minutes and although Cobh got one back we responded well to go straight back down the pitch to score.
“After a second pre-season when we lost only once I’m delighted with the way the season has started and that’s down to the players and the hard work thatthey’ve been putting in.”
After such a positive opening it’s likely Hutton will keep alternations to a minimum. Last week, in front of Ciaran Gallagher; Keith Cowan and Thomas McMonagle were in-between Matthew Crossan and Damien McNulty.
The midfield quartet saw an impressive showing from Marc Brolly on the left and Paul McVeigh lined out on the right, with Michael Funston and Shaun McGowan in the middle. McHugh and McCarron started up top.
Friday night is Harps’ night this term but the match has been moved back 24 hours to avoid the clash with the Republic of Ireland’s World Cup qualifier against Sweden in Stockholm.
One man who is definitely out of the visit of Longford is Thomas McBride, the Harps midfielder who was sent off against Waterford in the opening game of the season. Hutton had sympathy for the player in the wake of that dismissal for a tackle on Francis Rockett. A subsequent Harps appeal to stop any increase in the ban failed.
McBride will serve the second of a two-match ban and will therefore be available for the trip to Mervue United the week afterwards in Galway.
Longford are the only side in the division to have picked up two wins from two. Tony Cousins’ team opened with a 2-0 win away to neighbours Athlone Town at Lisseywollen when a Garvan Broughall own goal and Josh O’Hanlon gave them the points.
Then, goals from Michael Isichei - Goal and David O’Sullivan saw them come from behind to defeat Waterford United at Flancare Park.
“Longford have really strengthened well and have taken in a lot of players,” Hutton added. “They’ve brought in the likes of Chris Bennion, Corie Treacy, Willo McDonagh, Etanda Nkololo; David O’Sullivan and Keith Quinn.
“Tony Cousins I’m sure is the first to admit that he is gunning for promotion and they will present a different type of challenge in Ballbofey on Saturday. They will be big and physical.”
Hutton, though, knows from the positive conclusion to the season last term, when his side went unbeaten, can breed confidence. With that in mind, his team will look forward to playing against Longford “with respect but not fear.”