Fifth placed inn Harps will be bidding to prevent SSE Airtricity League Premier Division leaders Sligo Rovers from making it five wins on the spin when the sides meet in this evening’s big north-west derby at Finn Park. Kick-off is 5.45 pm.
With both teams going so well this season, in normal circumstances such a fixture would command a near full-house in Ballybofey.
But with the Covid related restrictions still in force, there will once again be a lack of atmosphere in the ageing stadium.
And that could well favour the visitors, according to Finn Harps boss Ollie Horgan.
“We have picked up more points away from home (this season),” he points out, and this is in stark contrast to what has been the case in recent years.
He’d dearly love to have the backing of the home fans for this game, but acknowledges that “it is what it is.”
Also at the back of Horgan’s mind is a worry about the knock-on effects of having had to make the long trip to Waterford on Monday.
Many of the Harps players were not back home until around 4.00 am following the 2-1 success at the RSC - and several of them, such as goalkeeper Mark Anthony McGinley, had to be up bright and early for a full day’s work on Tuesday.
Sligo were also on the road - and chalked up a superb 1-0 win away to champions Shamrock Rovers to knock them off their perch at the summit. After 33 league games without defeat, the Hoops have now lost two in a row.
Sligo will be coming to Ballybofey, brimming with confidence and a record this season that has seen them win eight, draw four and only lose once - slipping up at home to a Derry City side that got a bounce just after Ruairhrí Higgins had been appointed.
Horgan points out that Harps have had three away Monday games so far this season.
In April, they drew 0-0 down in Longford, but then lost 2-0 at home to St. Patrick’s Athletic the following Friday.
Then, earlier this month, they won 2-1 away against Derry City - in a historic first ever league win at the Brandywell - only to follow it up with a 4-0 drubbing against Bohemians at Dalymount Park in their next outing.
Horgan will be hoping his side can buck this trend at home to Sligo.
Defender Johnny Dunleavy is a doubt for the Sligo game, and a number of players are nursing niggles.
Fifth-placed Harps are ten points adrift of their great rivals.
“They have really kicked-on and got better and are the most settled side of all,” Horgan noted.
One suspects that Harps would be the happier with a share of the spoils.
When the sides met earlier this season at the Showgrounds, Sligo won 1-0.
This is the last game before a short early summer break.
Harps will not be back in action again until Friday, June 11th, when they are away to Shamrock Rovers.
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