A tale of two keepers as Harps host Limerick

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Felix Healy has made his mind up who will be keeping goal for Finn Harps but is keeping his cards close to his chest before Airtricity League First Division favourites, Limerick FC arrive in Finn Park tomorrow. (kick-off 7.45pm)

With regular first choice goalkeeper, Ciaran Gallagher still sidelined having suffered a hairline fracture to the skull three weeks ago, Harps’ Director of Football, Healy and manager, Peter Hutton have used two replacements in their last two league games.

Sixteen-year-old Shaun Patton kept goal in the 3-0 win over SD Galway on Good Friday before Buncrana native, Rory Kelly was between the sticks as Harps toppled league leaders Longford Town at Flancare Park last weekend.

“Shaun was suffering a dead leg last week and we put Rory in, although Shaun was fine to play for the Under-19 team on Sunday,” Healy said.

“Rory’s based in Liverpool and only has a week left there before he returns home but he will be in the squad this weekend. I’ve made my mind up on who will play so you will see then.”

Harps go into the game with confidence levels inflated following three successive league wins, a run of form that has seen them jump to fourth place in the table.

However, since returning to Finn Park last May, Healy insists progression should be gradual but positive.

“When we came in there were obstacles but we challenged the guys on different fronts - whether it be to keep a clean sheet, scoring goals, to win a match, do it back-to-back, win away or whatever,” he said.

“One thing we noticed was it had been quite some time (August 2010 in a 3-2 home win over Salthill Devon) since we came from behind to win and we challenged the guys on that front last Saturday. It was something we spoke about and they responded well.

“It’s part of every team, getting belief and confidence and no matter how much you try and instill that in players they need a few results to believe you and we have managed that of late.”

Harps have a full squad to select from apart from long term absentees Stephen O’Donnell, out for the season following a grade one cruciate injury, and Keith Cowan, who broke a bone in his foot in the 2-1 loss to Pat Scully’s side on the first night of the season at Jackman Park last month.

“Keith got his plaster off on Wednesday so should be back running in a couple of weeks,” Healy added. “One thing I have noticed about the division this year having now played all the other teams is the level of desire shown by each and every team.

“If we maintain that level then we will be fine. We only picked up three points from our first four games when I think we should’ve got maybe seven or eight.

“We didn’t though and have improved since then and I’ve been trying to maintain here that if you don’t make stupid mistakes then you don’t concede goals. That’s the challenge this weekend against Limerick and it’s a game we’re looking forward to.”