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Matchday 23 Preview – Finn Harps v Kerry FC

Matchday 23 Preview – Finn Harps v Kerry FC

The Kingdom make the 828km round trip to Ballybofey in County Donegal tomorrow (Thursday) to take on Finn Harps on Matchday 23 of the SSE Airtricity Men’s First Division season. It will just be the second time Kerry FC will play a league match on a Thursday night, given the start of the Euro 2024 Quarter Finals, all SSE Airtricity League of Ireland matches this week are once again pushed forward to the Thursday night slot.

So a near midweek jaunt to the North West will be no easy feat for Conor McCarthy’s side. As the calendars flick to July and no sign of improved weather conditions, a tricky night is once again in store for this young Kerry side. Casting our minds back to Matchday 6 and the last trip to Ballybofey. A cold night in March was met with downpours of rain in Donegal, but Kerry’s resilience shone through on the night, leaving Finn Park with a well-earned point and clean sheet after a somewhat uninspiring 0-0 draw. But that didn’t dampen the spirits of the Kerry supporters who made the trip North, who knew a point on the road here is well earned.

In the reverse fixture in Mounthawk Park just a few weeks ago, it was a Kerry performance to remember as goals from the in-form Ryan Kelliher and former Harps man Daniel Okwute meant the Kerry supporters had entered uncharted waters, back-to-back home wins for the Kingdom for the very first time and it must be said, a win in convincing circumstances for Kerry FC.
A point last time out has Kerry on 19 points for the season and 5 clear of basement side Longford Town. Although the playoff places do seem out of reach, Kerry do sit just 12 points behind tonight’s opponents Finn Harps who are 5th and in the final play-off spot at this juncture. But it’s Kerry’s form on the road that needs improving as the season ticks into the final countdown phase. No win away from home and just 4 points on the road compared to the 15 in Mounthawk Park will need to change in the coming weeks if Kerry are to climb up the table.

The form table suggests Kerry are in 5th at the moment with 2 wins, 2 losses and a draw in the last 5 games. A side coming into a bit of form. But with just one home game in the next 6 matches, the away form needs to improve to keep some pressure on those ahead of the Kingdom on the table.

Matchday 23

Finn Harps v Kerry FC

Thursday, July 4th – 19:45 Kick Off – Finn Park, Ballybofey

Previous Meetings

Kerry FC Wins 1 | Draws 3 | Finn Harps Wins 2

Did you know?

2 of Kerry FC’s main men in 2024 played for the Donegal side in 2023. Winger Daniel Okwute played for Harps on loan from Stockport County for the opening months of last season and even faced his home town club Kerry twice while playing for Finn Harps before he secured a move home in July last year. Kerry’s shot-stopper Antonio Tuta also played for Finn Harps last term. The Croatian made the move to Ireland in August and produced some fine saves to deny Kerry a point on our last trip to Ballybofey. Tuta signed for Kerry in the winter transfer window and quickly became the Kingdom’s number 1 between the sticks.

Injury Update

Thankfully, no fresh injury concerns have been reported by the management team ahead of this one. Valerii Dolia picked up another foot injury in the warm-up against Longford Town a couple of weeks ago and remains unavailable. Croatian keeper Antonio Tuta has returned from a family wedding at home and is in contention. Kevin Williams is suspended for this one after receiving two yellows against Wexford FC last Friday night.

‘What they said’

James Sugrue – I’ve said it to the boys during the week, we tend to play well in Ballybofey but it’s still a tricky one when you go up there. I’ve played there a few times myself, it’s a very hostile, tough place to go and pick up points. So when you get up there, they are going to be aggressive, it’s always going to be tough. But we are going up there to get the whole 3 points. If we can pick up where we left off from on Friday night and go there with that confidence and belief, I think we have a good chance up there.