Finn Harps make one of the longest journeys in Irish football this Saturday with the 854km round trip to Cobh Ramblers. To make matters worse, this is the first of two trips to Cork in a week for the Donegal side as they face non-league Avondale United in the FAI Cup quarter-finals next weekend!
Bottom club Cobh Ramblers drew 2-2 at home to Wexford Youths last week but it could have been so much more. Wexford scored a late equaliser in added-time to deny the Rams an elusive victory. Rob Waters and Kynan Rocks had put Cobh 2-0 up early on after a blistering start but Youths fought back to earn a point and remain in the promotion hunt. This leaves the Rams twelve points adrift at the bottom of the table. Finn Harps’ own push for promotion looks to be over for this season after going down 1-0 to Shamrock Rovers B. One could be forgiven for saying that their eyes will be already looking at the Avondale tie and a potential semi-final spot.
Ramblers will definitely be without defender Eoin Hastings who is out for the remainder of the season. Striker Ron Stanton will also miss out with a hip injury. Eoghan Murphy and Brendeán Frahill will return from suspension though. With the u19 season back in full flow, the likes of Ryan Goldsmith, George Gill and Chris McCarthy may not feature as prevalent as before.
Finn Harps will definitely be without Darragh Black while veteran striker Kevin McHugh is a doubt along with defender Packie Mailey. Neither side have any suspensions to worry about. This is a must win game for Harps if they are to have any chance of making the play-offs. They are nine points behind third placed Galway FC.
The sides have met three times this season. The Donegal outfit won the first two 5-0 and 2-0 respectively but Cobh earned their only away point of the season with a 0-0 draw in July. The Rams’ last win over Saturday’s opposition was a 3-2 victory in August 2013 at St Colman’s.
Finn Harps boss Ollie Horgan took in Cobh’s game with Wexford last weekend having watched Avondale beat St Michael’s earlier in the day in the FAI Cup. Having seen the side up close, he knows what to expect. He spoke with the Harps website earlier in the week, ” Cobh is always a very difficult place to go,” said Horgan. “They should have taken all three points against Wexford down there last weekend so it will be very difficult to get anything out of the game, especially with the likes of Rob Waters back and Andy O’Connell in defence.”
Ahead of Saturday’s fixture, I spoke with Ramblers manager Martin Cambridge, “The players have worked very hard in training this week. We have Eoghan Murphy and Brendán Frahill back for the game so we have more options available. We’re determined to get a result against Harps. We’re all disappointed that we didn’t get the three points against Wexford but we’re aiming to come away with the win on Saturday.”
Elsewhere in the First Division this weekend, Waterford host Shelbourne, Wexford visit table-toppers Longford and Shamrock Rovers B entertain Galway FC.
Injured: Eoin Hastings, Ron Stanton
Injured: Darragh Black (shoulder)
Doubtful: Kevin McHugh (knock), Packie Mailey (knee)
Venue: St Colman’s Park
Kick Off: 7:45pm
Preview by Thomas Stafford