Finn Harps will play their sixth league game in 22 days this evening as they face Cork City, and the demands of life back in the top tier are already taking their toll as manager Ollie Horgan must grapple with injuries.
Furthermore, the consequences of having many players who are just part-time and who have occasionally got work commitments to take into consideration, does not help.
Harps have taken just two points from their five games to date and lie ninth in the ten-team SSE Airtricity League.
“It’s relentless, and it’s very tough, “Horgan declared.
But he’s hoping his side can give a repeat of the display they produced in their first home game against Dundalk where they picked up a valuable point.
Cork come to the north-west having made a stumbling start to their season, with a lucky victory away to Sligo, a draw against Derry and defeats at the hands of St. Patrick’s Athletic and Waterford in their four games so far.
Indeed, if Harps beat the Leesiders they would leapfrog over them in the table – and that could be a huge boost.
“There are no easy games, and Cork have a lot of quality,” Horgans notes, but it could be as good a time as any to play Cauflield’s side which has still to really find form.
Cork have drifted out to 12/1 with the bookmakers to win the title and with a considerable turnover in personnel from last season could take some time to gel.
In their last two visits to Donegal – for league games back in 2017 – they came away with 1-0 wins on both occasions. Interestingly, Republic of Ireland international Sean Maguire (who subsequently joined Preston North End) got the winner in what was the season opener.
Harps have practically rebuilt their team since the sides last met in August 2017. Of the Harps starting line-up that day, only goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher and midfielders Gareth Harkin and Mark Timlin remain in the squad.
Harkin is set to miss tonight’s game having picked up an injury in the 3-0 defeat against Shamrock Rovers on Monday while Gallagher has started every game so far this season on the bench with Inishowen youngster Peter Burke holding onto the number one jersey. Timlin is out with a knee injury.
Defensively, Horgan is likely to have to re-shuffle his pack again about the influential Sam Todd (foot infection) still out.
However, former Sligo Rovers legend, Raffaele Cretato is expected to start in midfield. Now aged 37, he brings a wealth of knowledge to a squad where the average age is just 23.
Kick-off is 8.00 pm.
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