Gareth Harkin who scored in the friendly with Glenavon. Picture: Stephen Doherty
Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan said he expects that the team which lines out to play Athlone Town in a pre-season friendly on Saturday will be close to the starting eleven for the following Friday night’s league opener at Bohemians.
Saturday evening’s match in Athlone, which kicks off at 4pm, will be Harps’ final run-out before they get down to competitive action at Dalymount Park six days later.
That match against Bohs will now definitely go ahead after the Dublin club withdrew from the IRN-BRU cup competition earlier this week.
It follows the late cancellation of Bohemians’s quarter-final meeting with East Fife on Saturday.
Had Bohs come through that tie, their semi-final was due to be played on the same weekend as their game against Harps - which would have meant the cancellation of their League of Ireland opener.
“At least now we can concentrate fully on Friday week,” Horgan said.
“The whole thing was a bit up in the air which was far from ideal. But the decision by Bohs now to withdraw altogether from that cup competition means both teams know what’s happening and we can get on with our preparations.”
Harps’ game in Athlone brings an end to a busy run of pre-season fixtures. A Harps select travelled to Lurgan on Tuesday night to play Irish League side Glenavon. The Donegal side twice came from behind to draw 2-2 with goals from new signing Daniel O’Reilly and Gareth Harkin.
Asked if he will go with as strong a team as possible in Athlone this weekend, Horgan said: “Yeh, you could say that, although we might still have a player or two on trial involved.
“But it’s fair to say, we will probably go with something close to the team which will start in Dalymount Park.”
The match against Bohs marks the beginning of a difficult open series of matches for newly-promoted Harps.
And as the new arrivals continue to settle in at Finn Park, the club’s supporters will be keen to see their team make as good a start as possible.
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“It’s not going to be easy,” Horgan said.
“We all know that. Bohs away from home and then Dundalk in Ballybofey. But that’s where we’re at now. At least we’re not planning a long trip to Cobh. It’s Premier Division football, which is where we all want to be.”
Meanwhile Harps defender Sam Todd was in the home-based Republic of Ireland U-21 squad that trained yesterday at the FAI National Training Centre ahead of a match against Ireland Amateurs at Whitehall last night.
The Ireland Amateurs squad included Conor Tourish of Letterkenny Rovers.
Michael Gallagher and Niall McGinley were also in Dublin this week and attended a two-day training camp with the Republic of Ireland U-19s