Finn Harps F.C.

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Finn Harps
Full nameFinn Harps Football Club
Nickname(s)The Harps, Blue and white army.
GroundFinn Park, Ballybofey,
County Donegal
Capacity6,000 (400 seated) – Restricted to 4,200 safe capacity.
ChairmanSean Quinn
ManagerOllie Horgan
LeagueLeague of Ireland Premier Division
2018League of Ireland First Division, 2nd (promoted via play-offs vs. Limerick FC)
WebsiteClub website

Finn Harps Football Club (Irish: Cumann Peile Chláirsigh na Finne) are an Irish football club that will play in the Premier Division of the League of Ireland, as of 2019. The club was founded in 1954 and elected to the league in 1969. They hail from Ballybofey, County Donegal and play their home matches at Finn Park. The club's colours are blue and white, and they go by the nickname the Harps. The main successes of the club include winning an FAI Cup in 1973–74 and the First Division title in 2004.

Finn Harps share a local rivalry with Derry City with whom they contest the Northwest Derby.


The Early years[edit]

Finn Harps was formed in 1954 as a junior club. The club's name derives from the river that runs through Ballybofey – the River Finn – and a traditional Irish symbol – the harp. They first came to national prominence by winning the 1968 FAI Junior Cup. This enabled them to compete in the 1969 FAI Intermediate Cup. After they were knocked out of that competition, club directors Fran Fields and Patsy McGowan decided to apply to the League of Ireland for membership. The club was admitted into the senior ranks in May 1969 and played their first senior game against Shamrock Rovers on 17 August 1969. They lost the game 10–2. After initial worries that the club were not of sufficient standard the club became a considerable force during the 1970s.

1970s: A Decade of Dominance[edit]

Finn Harps won their first senior trophy, the Dublin City Cup, in 1971–72, after a goal from club legend and all time League of Ireland record goalscorer Brendan Bradley defeated Cork Hibernians at Dalymount Park. Two years later, Dalymount Park was again the scene of the club's only FAI Cup win. Two goals from Brendan Bradley and one by Charlie Ferry saw off the challenge of St. Patrick's Athletic. Finn Harps qualified for European competitions on four occasions during the 1970s. They appeared in the UEFA Cup three times against Aberdeen, Derby County and Everton respectively after finishing as runners-up in the league, and once in the European Cup Winners Cup, where they played Turkish Cup winners, Bursaspor. The club was again runner-up in the League of Ireland Cup finals of 1974 and 1975 to Waterford and Bohemians respectively. Through the 1970s, the club never once finished in the bottom half of the table and were widely respected for their attractive and attacking football style.[1]

Slow Decline[edit]

The 1980s saw a gradual decline of the club in terms of competing with the best in Ireland.[1] An FAI Cup semi-final in 1981 and a League of Ireland First Division Shield final defeat by EMFA were the highlights of the decade for them and by 1985 the club had been relegated to the newly formed First Division. A series of managerial changes were effected over the next few years in an attempt to raise the club, but it was not until the early 1990s that there were signs of improvement.[1] Patsy McGowan took over as manager for the third time at the start of the 1992–93 season. The next three seasons saw the club finish in the play-off position twice, although they were beaten both times; once by Cobh Ramblers and once by Athlone Town. McGowan was let go by the club before his aim of promotion could be completed. Nevertheless, Finn Harps went on to win promotion at the end of the 1995–96 season to end their 11-season spell in the First Division. During the Summer of 1996, a consortium of businessmen made an offer to take control of the club, but when their offer was rejected, it led to resignations of the manager and certain members of the club committee. Charlie McGeever was appointed manager and despite time being against him, he managed to assemble a squad for the opening of the 1996–97 season. By the season's conclusion, he had ensured that the club's Premier Division status was retained. Off the field, the remaining committee members set the club up as a co-operative society, selling shares to the ordinary supporters, to ensure that the club would be owned and run by the people who they felt would truly care about it. A long-term blueprint for the future was put in place.[2]

In 1998–99, Finn Harps finished fourth in the Premier Division; one point behind Shelbourne in third position and just missed out on Europe. They made it to the FAI Cup final and after a number of replays against Bray Wanderers they lost, leaving themselves with nothing to show, bar the Irish News Cup, for what is considered to be one of their most impressive seasons.[1] After a very poor start to the 1999–00 season and having managed to win one point from a possible 21, Charlie McGeever resigned. Gavin Dykes was installed as manager and managed to retain the club's Premier Division status, but they were forced to go public company due to financial difficulties and debts amounting to £280,000. The following season, Dykes resigned after an abysmal run of results and fan-favourite Jonathan Speak took his place as new financial structures were put in place and a newly appointed fund-raising committee was established along with numerous supporter clubs around the country. After a run of 14 games undefeated and a late-season fightback, Finn Harps were still relegated to the First Division on the last day of the season. This ended a five-year run in the top-flight.[1]

The Yo-Yo Years[edit]

Speak's first full season in charge saw the club finish second in the First Division to Drogheda United and they were then beaten on penalties by Longford Town in the play-off for promotion. The subsequent season saw the club finish third and lose at the play-off semi-final stage to Galway United. Speak managed to hold most of the squad together despite interest from a number of Premier Division clubs in top-scorer Kevin McHugh, who formed a successful forward partnership with English striker Damien Whitehead. Installed as the bookmaker's favourites to lift the 2003 title and win promotion, they made a good start but fell to fourth position after going without a win for a month by mid-September. This poor run included a home-loss to northwest rivals Sligo Rovers and a home-draw against league-leaders Dublin City in a game billed as a must-win match.[1] Despite having only lost two games all season, the nine draws cost Speak his job. Speak's assistant, Sean McGowan took temporary charge until a suitable placement was found and steadied the club with two wins from two. Noel King was then appointed as the new manager going into the final third of the season. The club were rejuvenated and stormed back to the top of the First Division table with a club record equalling six wins on the trot.[1] With only four games remaining, Finn Harps led the table by a point but losses away to Bray Wanderers and Dublin City handed the title to Dublin City and left Finn Harps in the now-dreaded play-offs once again. They disposed of Bray Wanderers in the semi-finals but lost in the final to local rivals Derry City, who had finished ninth in that season's Premier Division.[1]

Noel King lasted six games into the 2004 season and left the club by mutual consent with the amount of travelling the Dubliner had to endure being cited as one of the main reasons for his departure.[1] Sean McGowan, his assistant, once again took charge for two games but within ten days a shock replacement was announced. The new manager was former Derry City player and manager, Felix Healy, who had won all domestic major honours with his home-town club. Fans viewed the move by the Finn Harps board of directors as bold to give someone with such a history with the club's fiercest rivals the manager's job.[1] However, Healy, in the club's golden jubilee year, won the club's first First Division title and achieved the promotion to the Premier Division that had eluded so many managers before him. However, the following season saw the club struggle in the Premier Division and Healy was sacked in July. Anthony Gorman agreed to become player-manager until the end of the season. However, at season's end with Finn Harps relegated again, Gorman agreed to take the position on a full-time basis but left following the 2006 season as his attempts to lead the club to promotion failed. In 2007, after Paul Hegarty took charge of managing the team,[3] the club put all of their players up for sale due to financial difficulties and struggled in the lower half of the First Division while still trying to eradicate the debts that nearly left the club bankrupt a number of seasons earlier.[1] The 2007 season started sluggishly with a number of defeats and 'bore draws' notably against Monaghan United, but a lengthy unbeaten run left the club in second place in the league, only one point behind Cobh Ramblers. They emerged victorious from the first division play-offs with a 2–0 win over Dundalk. The play-off final, 1st leg against Waterford United at Finn Park, ended with Harps taking a 3–0 advantage to the Waterford RSC in the return leg, which ended 3–3 and saw Harps promoted to the Premier Division 6–3 on aggregate.

In 2008, the Harps began the conversion from a semi-professional, part-time club to a full-time setup over the off-season, with 16 full-time players on the books as of the opening day of the season. Though the conversion was a successful one, the Finn Harps got relegated on the final day even though winning on that day. It was Galway United's win which in the end sealed the Harp's fate. In 2009, the Finn Harps played in the FAI First Division, on a semi-professional basis once again.

On 11 May 2009, Paul Hegarty left the club, stating "personal reasons" and was replaced as manager by James Gallagher.

On 3 May 2011 Peter Hutton took over as manager along with former Northern Ireland international and fellow former Derry City player Felix Healy. Hutton was declared as the new manager while Healy took on the role of Director of Football at the club. Following the final home game of the 2013 season, a 3–2 win against champions Athlone Town, Peter Hutton announced his resignation as manager.[4]

On 25 November 2013, Galway native, and former Fanad United manager Ollie Horgan was named manager for the 2014 season.[5]

On 6 November 2015, the Harps secured promotion to the League of Ireland Premier Division by beating Limerick 2–1 on aggregate in a relegation/promotion playoff.[6]

Colours and crests[edit]

Old Finn Harps crest.
More modern crest.
The golden jubilee crest.
The current crest.

The traditional colours of Finn Harps are blue and white. The club played in white jerseys and blue shorts upon entry into the League of Ireland. Their away strip was all green. Since that time Harps have played in either white or blue jerseys as their primary colour and used green, yellow or white as their away colours. In the 1975/76 and 1976/77 Harps wore blue and white stripes and repeated this during 1983/84 and 1984/85.

Harps kits and training gear is currently manufactured by Legea Sports and the clubs jerseys are sponsored by McGettigans of Letterkenny. The current home strip is made up of a blue jersey, white shorts and blue socks with the home goalkeeping kit being pretty similar except with a light green jersey with black shorts and black socks. The current away strip consists of a white jersey with blue trim, blue shorts and white socks, the away goalkeeping kit is made up of a black jersey, black shorts and black socks. Harps current third kit is made up of a dark silver/grey jersey with blue trim, with matching shorts and socks, the third goalkeeping kit consists of a yellow jersey with black shorts and black socks.

Finn Harps have sported various crests throughout their history. All, largely circular in composition, have featured a harp and new designs have essentially been modernised updates of the previous crest. The harp has traditionally been a symbol of Ireland. Footballs have also been a common feature.

The modern stylised crests contain the club's name in a Gaelic-style font, similar to the Gandalf typeface.

For the club's golden jubilee year, 2004, they introduced a new golden crest which was very similar to their early crest. Bar this crest, blue, green and white have been common colours used.

In 2010, Finn Harps decided to play in an all-white kit due to demand from supporters after they wore an all-white kit against Shelbourne to celebrate 40 years in the League of Ireland in 2009. They reverted to blue home kits in 2011.


Finn Harps play at Finn Park in Ballybofey, County Donegal. Finn Park is formed mainly of open terracing surrounding the football pitch. In 2005, the terraces were renovated for health and safety reasons as new concrete surfaces replaced the old viewing slopes.[7][8] In total, the ground's capacity accommodates approximately 6,000 spectators. The stadium has one covered stand, which also caters for 500 seated supporters. The area allocated to supporters of visiting teams is the terrace opposite the seated stand (situated in the Shed End). The pitch dimensions measure 110 yards in length by 80 yards in width.[9] Sitting on the banks of the River Finn, Finn Park is prone to waterlogging in times of wet weather.

New stadium[edit]

The club planned to move to a new covered 6,600 all-seater stadium just across the River Finn in Stranorlar. The proposal will also feature an FAI Regional Development Centre.[10] Club shareholders gave the club's board a mandate in 2005 to proceed with the stadium plans. Planning permission was obtained in mid-2005. Approval to proceed to tender was obtained from the Football Association of Ireland in early 2006 and local developers, Joseph McMenamin and Sons, won the tender process and had their tender approved a year later. Finn Harps received funding of €750,000 in 2007 to commence works at the new stadium. They hoped to be in the new stadium for the 2013 season. Work ceased on the new stadium due to the recession and lack of funds.[11] Work was expected to resume on the stadium in early 2011 but in the end it did not restart until late 2014 [1].


Finn Harps supporters share a friendly rivalry with their neighbours in the North-West, Derry City F.C. The most exciting encounter between the two sides was perhaps the 2003 relegation play-off between the two sides. With a Brandywell Stadium packed with both sets of fans and a Finn Harps managed by a former Derry manager in the form of Noel King, it was a highly charged affair that finished 2–1 to Derry after an extra-time goal from Derry City favourite, Liam Coyle.[12] A friendly rivalry is maintained between the two clubs, yet both have encountered times of trouble in recent years. One team has often been helped by the other in this regard. Harps other main derby is with southern neighbours Sligo Rovers F.C. Harps have a good relationship with Shamrock Rovers. The clubs have provided financial assistance to each other in the past and both sets of supporters socialise together when the clubs play one another. The club's anthem "The Finn Harps song" can often be heard being sung by the clubs supporters and its lyrics "they follow them in Donegal, Derry and Tyrone" illustrates that the main core of the Harps support comes from the North West of Ireland.


Finn Harps and Derry City share what is called the Northwest Rivalry. Although Sligo Rovers also play in the Northwest of Ireland, the clubs' respective games with this team are not considered to represent the playing of the traditional Northwest Derby. It has been hotly contested since Derry entered the League in 1985. The close proximity of the two clubs, being only 40 miles apart, has contributed to the rivalry with Sligo being further away for both clubs. The strong contrast between the two clubs, Rural/Urban and the gulf in success, has aided the rivalry. Both sets of fans can be frequently heard singing songs about each other. Many players have played for both clubs, the most notable of which is Kevin McHugh.


Current Squad[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 Republic of Ireland GK Ciaran Gallagher
2 Northern Ireland DF Aidan Friel
3 Republic of Ireland DF Ciaran Coll
4 Malta DF Jacob Borg
5 Republic of Ireland DF Keith Cowan (Captain)
6 Republic of Ireland MF Gareth Harkin
7 Republic of Ireland MF Jesse Devers
8 Northern Ireland MF Thomas McBride
9 Republic of Ireland FW John O'Flynn
11 Republic of Ireland MF Mark Timlin
12 Republic of Ireland FW Dylan McCroary
13 Republic of Ireland FW Liam Walsh
14 Republic of Ireland MF Mark Coyle
15 Republic of Ireland FW Mikey Place
16 Republic of Ireland MF Mark Hannon
18 Republic of Ireland MF Niall McGinley
No. Position Player
20 Northern Ireland FW Paddy McCourt
21 Northern Ireland FW Nathan Boyle
22 Republic of Ireland DF Sam Todd (on loan from Derry City)
24 Republic of Ireland DF Darragh Ellison
25 Republic of Ireland GK Jamie Bell
26 Republic of Ireland FW Ryan Finn
27 Republic of Ireland FW Adam Duffy
28 Republic of Ireland DF John Kavanagh (on loan from Cork City)
30 Republic of Ireland DF Conor O'Reilly
32 Republic of Ireland GK Peter Burke
33 Nigeria MF Oluwatunmise Sobowale
50 Republic of Ireland DF Niall Logue (on loan from Derry City)
Republic of Ireland DF Fintan Borotto

Out On Loan[edit]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
23 Republic of Ireland MF Gareth Doherty (on loan at Dergview)

Academy Players[edit]

Features players from Finn Harps under-17 and Finn Harps under-19 squads yet to feature in the first team squad.

As of 03 August 2018 (UTC)

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
Republic of Ireland GK Eoin McGing
Republic of Ireland GK Adrian McLaughlin
Republic of Ireland DF Jack Doherty
Republic of Ireland DF Stephen Black
Republic of Ireland DF Stephen Doherty
Republic of Ireland DF Michael Gallagher
Republic of Ireland DF Jack Doherty
Republic of Ireland DF Keenan Diver
Republic of Ireland DF Lee McLaughlin
Republic of Ireland DF Keelin McGill
Republic of Ireland MF Karl McGinley
Republic of Ireland MF Nathan Logue
Republic of Ireland MF Jamie Doherty
Republic of Ireland MF Michael Doherty
No. Position Player
Republic of Ireland MF Dara McElwaine
Republic of Ireland MF Zach Gorman
Republic of Ireland MF Brendan Barr
Republic of Ireland MF James Carolan
Republic of Ireland MF Ronan Gallagher
Republic of Ireland MF Corrie Lee Bogan
Republic of Ireland MF Joel Bradley Walsh
Republic of Ireland MF Adam McCaffrey
Republic of Ireland MF Conor Black
Republic of Ireland FW Luke Rudden
Republic of Ireland FW Brendan Barr
Republic of Ireland FW Gabriel Junior Aduaka
Republic of Ireland FW Zac Brolly

Technical staff[edit]

Position Staff
Manager Ollie Horgan
Assistant Manager Paul Hegarty
First Team Coach William O'Connor
Goalkeeping Coach Paddy Hannigan
Reserve Team Manager Joe Boyle
Head of Youth Development Kevin McHugh
Under-19 Team Manager Joe Boyle
Under-17 Team Manager Declan Boyle
Under-15 Team Manager Paul Rua McBride
Under-13 Team Manager Kevin McHugh
Under-12 Development Team Manager Conrad Clarke
Strength and Conditioning Michael Black
First Team Physio Colm O'Neill
Youth Team Physio Mickey McGlynn
Club Nutritionist Therese Laverty
Kitman Shane Smelliott
Trainer Tommy Harkin



European record[edit]

Cup Winners' Cup:

Season Round Country Club Home Away Aggregate
1974–75 1 Turkey Bursaspor 0–0 2–4 2–4


Season Round Country Club Home Away Aggregate
1973–74 1 Scotland Aberdeen 1–3 1–4 2–7
1976–77 1 England Derby County 1–4 0–12 1–16
1978–79 1 England Everton 0–5 0–5 0–10


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Ramsay, Bartley & Dullaghan, Rodney. "Finn Harps Club History Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.",, 2006. Retrieved 5 June 2007.
  2. ^ This plan, upon eventual completion, will include a school of excellence for young County Donegal footballers. It also made way for the renovation of Finn Park, of which certain sections of the work have already gotten underway.
  3. ^ "Hegarty is new Finn Harps manager", BBC Sport Online, 20 December 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  4. ^ "Peter Hutton tenders resignation at Finn Harps", Donegal News, 2013. Retrieved 5 October 2013.
  5. ^ "Finn Harps confirm Ollie Horgan as new manager". Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  6. ^ "BJ Banda sends Finn Harps up to Premier Division". Raidió Teilifís Éireann. 6 November 2015. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  7. ^ "Temporary Works at Finn Park continue Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.",, 12 April 2005. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  8. ^ "Final preparations continue at Finn Park Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.",, 2005. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  9. ^ Finn Harps, What's the score?, 2000. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  10. ^ "Harps welcome Minister O'Donoghues announcement Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.",, 16 November 2006. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  11. ^ "Harps allocated €750,000 to start new Stadium this year Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.",, 6 April 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  12. ^ "FOOTBALL: Derry Stay in Top Flight Football; Derry City 2 Finn Harps 1". 14 December 2003. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  13. ^ "Ireland Cups 2002/03". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  14. ^ Honours Archived 28 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.,, 2007. Retrieved 6 June 2007

External links[edit]