Sat May 11th 2013
LTFC.ie reporter Kieran Burke (@burko77_) looks ahead to what he claims could be one of the games of the season at City Calling Stadium on Saturday night as Peter Hutton’s Harps come to town!
The big games just keep on coming for table toppers Longford as Tony Cousins side come off the back of a trip to Waterford with a home clash with pre-season promotion favourites, Finn Harps.
Another late David O’Sullivan goal was enough for Longford to pick up another point on their quest for the First Division title last weekend at the RSC while Finn Harps come into this eagerly awaited encounter off the back of yet another high scoring clash with the leagues entertainers, Cobh Ramblers as the game at St.Colemans Park ended 2-2.
While the league leaders go into every game confident of picking up not only a result but all three points in their current form, Finn Harps come into this game knowing they are the only side to defeat Tony Cousins side this season as the Donegal men ran out 1-0 winners in a scrappy affair at Finn Park in Ballybofey earlier this season.
Kevin McHugh was the match winner on that occasion and the legendary League of Ireland striker will head up the Harps attack tonight alongside Sean McCarron who has been a revelation since joining Harps in the off-season. Town defender Brian McCarthy was voted as Longford’s player of the month recently and the towering centre-half will have to be on the top of his game if Longford are to stand a chance of reversing the previous result against Finn Harps.
Peter Hutton’s Harps go into this crucial encounter boasting the best defence in the division while they are also the fourth highest goal scorers but Longford fans shouldn’t be too concerned by those stats as Chris Bennion has only conceded a goal more in the Longford nets while David O’Sullivan’s record of 10 goals in 9 games sees Longford sitting pretty as joint top scorers in the league while “Sully” holds the individual record.
Speaking of records and “Sully”, the Longford striker only needs to score in the next two games running to beat Dave Mooney’s record of 7 consecutive goal scoring matches and with Saturday’s game versus Harps followed up with another home tie against Cobh, who have the joint worse defensive record in the league, Sullivan will be confident of making history at City Calling Stadium in the coming fortnight.
A win for Finn Harps at City Calling Stadium would spell a first defeat at the stadium for Longford since its renaming while it would also move Peter Hutton’s side onto 16 points and a possible play-off position but with Waterford United, Cobh Ramblers and Wexford Youths all only a win away from Harps in the table, a defeat is the last thing Hutton’s men can afford and with four draws from their ten league games this season we can expect another tight encounter between these two rivals on Saturday night.
As mentioned at the start of this preview, Finn Harps started the season as bookies favourite for promotion and just like his counterpart Tony Cousins, Peter Hutton must be praised for the squad he has built in the off-season with quality players all over the park.
Goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher is one of Irish football’s brightest prospects having made over 200 appearances for the Donegal side as well as pulling on an Ireland jersey at underage level. Defender Ciaran Coll and midfield man Michael Funston also fall into that highly rated bracket while the aforementioned Kevin McHugh and Sean McCarron need no introduction. Throw in the fact players such as Marc Brolly, Matt Harkin, Rory Kelly, Paul McVeigh didn’t even get off the bench in their last game, it just goes to show the strength and talent of this Finn Harps side.
Add into the mix the attacking and exciting talents of Etanda Nkolo, Keith Quinn, Daniel Purdy and David O’Sullivan just to name a few then anyone coming down to City Calling Stadium for the 7-30pm kick-off on Saturday night can not only expect an extremely exciting affair but a high quality one as two of the league’s top sides go head to head.
ENJOY THE GAME!