Finn Harps director of football Felix Healy has paid tribute to the efforts his playing staffs have made as they continue their pre-season.
Harps were in Glengad during the week for a double training session and take on Derry City at the Brandywell on Tuesday night in their second outing of pre-season. The team managed by Peter Hutton went down 1-0 two weeks ago against Limavady United and were forced to call off last weekend’s game in Killygordon against Curragh Athletic.
“We’ve completed nearly three weeks of pre-season training and the time has flown by incredibly quick,” Healy penned on the official Finn Harps website. “Unquestionably, the commitment shown by the players has been extraordinary, although I shouldn’t be surprised given what I experienced last year.
“Players have given their time three nights per week as well as Saturdays, in an effort to get themselves ready and as fit as humanly possible for the big kick off in a few weeks. They’ve travelled from all areas of Donegal, Derry, Tyrone and Sligo during the last three weeks and they deserve enormous credit, given that they receive no remuneration at all during this period, indeed they don’t even get travelling expenses.
“One of the highlights in recent weeks was our visit to Rathmullan, where the hospitality of the the local Rathmullan club was fabulous. Once again I would like to thank Dessie McLaughlin and his team of helpers for everything they did to accommodate us on what was a fairly cold morning and bitter afternoon.”
Healy and Hutton’s Harps have, after Derry on Tuesday, three more friendly games confirmed. On Tuesday, February 14, Harps will travel to Belfast to take on Crusaders at Seaview. The following Sunday, February 19, the Ballybofey club will visit Dundalk and then, three days later, Harps will host Dergview at Finn Park.
Healy continued that he hopes to have James Doherty available this week for the first time, while Ciaran Coll and Stephen O’Donnell are expected to come back from absentees themselves for Tuesday. The former Northern Ireland international finished up by congratulating the club’s U-19 squad who moved to the top of the Northern Section of Airtricity U-19 League last weekend with a 1-0 win over Derry City.
“Sadly young James Doherty has an infection and hasn’t as yet been able to take part in any of the sessions, we’re hoping he can begin on Monday,” Healy added. “Ciaran Coll is struggling with tonsillitis but should be okay for next week as well. Stephen O’Donnell’s training has also be disrupted by a troublesome knee injury but we will assess that further at Glengad and hopefully he will be fit to face Derry next Tuesday night at the Brandywell.
“Chris Breen has been training with Cork City and and although he wont play at Derry he will be available for all the other pre-season games. The new faces are bedding in nicely and as I write I am trying to bring in one other player on loan in time for the friendly at the Brandywell. Fingers crossed.
Healy also mentioned Sean McGowan’s under-19 squad. “They’ve had a tremendous campaign and as I’ve mentioned at the top of the page, the commitment of everyone concerned is quite extraordinary. My thanks to everyone involved, including the parents who without their support it would not be possible.”