League Preview: UCD -v- Finn Harps

Fri, Sep 14 2018

Conor Davis scored the opening goal as UCD beat Waterford to reach the semi-finals of the FAI Cup last week. Credit: Albert Thompson

UCD

UCD's biggest game of the season beckons as they welcome Finn Harps to Belfield knowing just a point is needed to clinch the First Division title (kick-off 7.45pm).

Collie O'Neill's side have led the second tier for the majority of the season and Harps are the only side still capable of pipping them into first place.

Even a draw will be enough for the Students to seal the league title and promotion back to the top level after four years in the First Division.

Last week saw UCD beat Premier Division Waterford at the Bowl to set up a first FAI Cup semi-final in 11 years.

Goals from Conor Davis - his sixth in six games - and Timmy Molloy were enough for the Students to earn a deserved win despite Stanley Aborah pulling one back from the spot.

"Friday's a huge game for us," O'Neill told the club's media team.

"Even though it's first against second, we're not treating the game any differently than we have all our other games this year. We know it's not going to be easy.

"Our games against Finn Harps have been very close this year, they will be confident of securing the three points and bringing it down to the last game of the season.

"They're a good footballing side, they're on a good run but so are we, it'll be a good contest."

Darragh Corcoran is the only absentee from the UCD side as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

FINN HARPS

Finn Harps' task is simple in Dublin on Friday night - nothing less than a win will do to maintain their slim chances of pipping UCD to the league title.

Harps trail College by five points going into the final two games and need to win both and hope UCD lose both of theirs (as the Students boast a healthy goal advantage).

So it's imperative that Harps - who had an extra week to prepare for the game due to the FAI Cup last weekend - take all three points.

That task looks difficult as Harps are yet to take a point from the league leaders all season, having been defeated home and away in the league.

They'll have to do so without star goalscorer Mikey Place and winger Mark Timlin, however, as they picked up a suspension and an injury respectively.

There are also doubts over Paddy McCourt, Mark Coyle and Adam Duffy ahead of the game as they nurse long-standing knocks.

“We are five points behind UCD and they have beaten us twice this season in the league so that I think demonstrates the scale of the challenge we face tomorrow night.

"We’re certainly going there looking to get a result that will hopefully bring us closer to finishing second in the table. Myself and Paul Hegarty are not looking any further than that.

"Some people are talking about us still finishing top of the table but I can tell you we are only concentrating on being in the right frame of mind to do our best against the team that has had a great run of results all season and are deservedly at the top of the table.

"Collie O’Neill has very good players all over the pitch but we’re going to Belfield to give it a right good go and see where it takes us’

 

Referee: David Keeler.

 

MATCH STATS

The sides have met twice this season and the stats don't make good reading for Harps boss Ollie Horgan ahead of a must-win game.

A hat-trick from Donegal native Georgie Kelly helped the Students to a 3-2 win when the sides first met in Belfield in April.

And Kelly scored again following a Daire O'Connor brace as College once again took the three points on their travels to Ballybofey in June.

 

BETTING

UCD 5/4; Draw 21/10; Finn Harps 15/8.

PREDICTION

UCD 1 – 1 Finn Harps

 

UCD

Injured: Darragh Corcoran (ankle).

Doubtful: None.

Suspended: None.

Finn Harps

Injured: Mark Timlin.

Doubtful: Mark Coyle, Adam Duffy, Paddy McCourt.

Suspended: Mikey Place.

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