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Pat's anticipate physical battle against Harps

FAI Cup: Finn Harps v St Pat's, Finn Park (KO 7.45)

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Stephen O’Donnell

Stephen O’Donnell

SPORTSFILE

Stephen O’Donnell

Stephen O'Donnell has challenged his St Pat's Athletic side to make sure they are in the mix for an unusual conclusion to the FAI Cup later this year by getting over the first hurdle tonight away to Finn Harps.

Pat's and Harps clash tonight for the second time in four days, in an FAI Cup tie at Finn Park. Both managers could have done without this Monday night fixture, Harps boss Ollie Horgan labelling the fixture list, which sees his side play four times in nine days, as "madness", while his counterpart O'Donnell has already admitted his fears about injuries piling up due to the calendar.

The league is due to finish on October 30 but due to changes in the season structure, the Cup's conclusion will be rapidly played out from November 15 to 29.

"Win four games and you are in the Cup final so that's going to be our aim, and Finn Harps' aim as well," says O'Donnell. "Four games doesn't seem that many to make it to a Cup final so it's exciting. And we want to be in that band of eight teams in the last three weeks of the season to reel off the quarter-final, semi-final and then final of the FAI Cup, that will be a novelty in itself.

"And we want to be in that hat. Tonight is the first step and it will be a tough game," he added.

Donegal native Georgie Kelly did the damage against Harps for Pat's on Friday in a game which saw tensions raised on the field and on the touchline.

"Harps will be out for a bit of retribution after Friday and it's always a tough game up there, it will be a physical battle and you have to compete, we know that. If you don't compete with Finn Harps in the physical stakes you have no chance of winning and we are well aware of that," O'Donnell said.

Harps did hand a debut to new signing Stephen Folan, back in Ireland after a spell in Australia, and veteran Raff Cretaro made his first appearance since the league resumed, but the tight schedule really does stretch Ollie Horgan's squad.

"It's not medically correct, we've had to patch up lads who shouldn't be playing, it's madness and it's wrong," Horgan told Donegal Sports Hub.

TEAM NEWS: Full squad available to St Pat's, Ian Bermingham is likely to retain his place. Mark Timlin is out long-term for Harps, home debut for defender Stephen Folan.

MATCH POINT: A Cup run is the most likely route to Europe for the Saints so progress is vital but Harps will feel aggrieved by decisions that went against them in Friday's league clash.

REFEREE: Neil Doyle

ODDS: Harps 13/5, Pat's 20/21, draw 9/4

VERDICT: St Pat's win