Play-off Final Preview: Finn Harps -v- Limerick

Mon, Oct 29 2018

Finn Harps boss Ollie Horgan reckons his side are in for a difficult night. Credit: Steve Alfred

FINN HARPS

Finn Harps take on Limerick in the first leg of the play-off final (kick-off 7.45pm) in a repeat of the match-up that contested the same stage in 2015.

Harps ran out winners in that tie thanks to BJ Banda's header deep in extra time at Finn Park after Michael Funston had scored to cancel out Limerick's first leg lead.

That was very much a shock result but, after spending two seasons in the Premier Division until going down last year, few would be surprised to see Harps repeat the trick.

One thing that may work in Harps' favour is the fact it's been ten days since their semi-final win over Drogheda United, while Limerick were in action on Friday night.

Harps are unbeaten in their last 12 league games, including the games against Drogheda, and will take confidence from that run of form.

“We will be up against it tomorrow night but it’s a challenge we have to be up for if we’re serious about promotion,” said Harps boss Ollie Horgan to the club's website.

“The lads have put in a really big effort all season but all that will be for nothing if we can’t pull off a result that keeps our chances of promotion in the melting pot for the game in Limerick.

“It’s going to take a massive effort from our lads to get something out of this game.

“We would appeal to our fans to give the players a really big vocal support right trough the game.

“Hopefully that, a big performance from the team and a bit of luck will see us still in with a decent chance before we go to Limerick for the second leg.”

Midfielder Mark Coyle will miss both play-off games as he's been hit with a two-game ban for picking up 12 yellow cards over the season.

Paddy McCourt, Mark Timlin, Gareth Harkin and Nathan Boyle are all carrying injuries and will be assessed ahead of the game.

LIMERICK

Limerick come into Monday's play-off final first leg with just one win in their last eight games – against the only side to finish below them in the league, Bray Wanderers.

Tommy Barrett's have conceded 11 goals in their last three games, and Colm Walsh O'Loughlen's early strike against Waterford on Friday is their only goal.

The Blues' form is in stark contrast to that of their hosts, who last tasted a league defeat all the way back in June, at the hands of First Division winners UCD.

“I always think we are going to win,” Barrett told the club's website.

“But I think they are favourites. They have the momentum, they have the more experienced staff, they are going well. It will be very difficult for us, but we’ll give it our best shot.

“We have to be realistic. We’re going to be positive. I’m not going to give Ollie Horgan anything to say, am I? I’m not going to give him anything to stick up in the dressing-room.

“We need to try to keep the ball, that is the only way we can nullify Harps; they are probably a bigger team than us.

“We don’t want to be giving away a silly free-kick, corners or anything like that because it will be difficult.”

Limerick have not provided any team news for the game but have no suspensions to contend with.

 

Referee: John McLoughlin

 

MATCH STATS

The two sides last met in competitive action in the 2017 Premier Division, when they played each other three times in the league and once in the FAI Cup.

Harps got the better of the league encounters, with two wins to Limerick's one, including a 3-2 win at Finn Park in May.

They also met in the second round of the FAI Cup, and Limerick won 1-0 thanks to David O'Connor's second-half strike on their way to the semi-finals of the competition.

 

BETTING

Finn Harps 4/7; Draw 5/2; Limerick 9/2.

PREDICTION

Finn Harps 1 – 0 Limerick

 

Finn Harps

Injured: None.

Doubtful: Paddy McCourt, Mark Timlin, Gareth Harkin, Nathan Boyle.

Suspended: Mark Coyle.

Limerick

Injured: Unavailable.

Doubtful: Unavailable.

Suspended: None.