Reigning League of Ireland Premier Division champions Dundalk will be raging hot favourites to defeat Finn Harps in this Monday night’s rescheduled fixture at Oriel Park (kick-off 7.45). So it’s going to be a daunting task for Ollie Horgan’s men to get even a point from this clash. Harps have lost their previous two league games against Stephen Kenny’s outfit this season, conceding ten goals and scoring none. So that is the scale of the challenge facing a Donegal side that has lost its last five games and failing to find the net once during that dismal run.
Being completely up front as usual about the magnitude of the task ahead, Horgan said playing a star studded side like Dundalk at any time of the season is extremely difficult but on the back of the recent poor run of form and absence of three key players, the trip to Oriel Park for his side is going to be a huge test mentally and physically. “I don’t think there is any good time to play Dundalk and tomorrow night certainly isn’t ideal with a number of players unavailable to us. They have scored ten goals against us in previous two meetings so the size of our task doesn’t get much more difficult than that”, Horgan said.
In team news the manager will again be minus Damian McNulty (knee) while Sean Houston is also injured and Josh Mailey is a doubt for the Oriel Park trip. Ethan Boyle is suspended and Horgan has confirmed that Barry Molloy is unavailable. So in terms of the numbers the panel is stretched meaning that a couple of the U19 players will be included in the squad for the Dundalk game.
Monday night’s match finally got the green light after Dundalk secured a 1-0 FAI Senior Cup quarter-final win over UCD at the Belfield Bowl on Friday night. Had that game ended in a draw the replay between those two teams was scheduled for Monday night, which would have meant the Harps game having to be put back again. Their match against Dundalk had been originally fixed for August 15th but was deferred due to the European commitments that Stephen Kenny’s side had at that time.
Back in March, Harps lost 3-0 at Oriel Park and in the middle of May it was a 7-0 hammering at Finn Park. Dundalk are on course for a third successive Premier title, currently leading the league by seven points from Cork City who have a game in hand. Horgan’s side is third from bottom and a massive 32 points behind the reigning champions. Bray Wanderers 2-0 win over bottom of the table Longford Town at the City Calling Stadium puts them seven points ahead of Harps. So the battle is now effectively between the Donegal outfit and Wexford Youths who occupy the play-off place in the relegation zone. Harps currently are five points in front of Shane Keegan’s men with two games in hand. Longford are bottom, eight points adrift of Wexford.