Michael Funston is back at Finn Park. And the Bonagee man, who was a crowd pleaser and favourite with the blue and white army, is delighted to be a Harps player once more.
He is looking forward to getting back into the engine room of midfield as Harps begin their assault on the second half of the Airtricity First Division.
However, he is going to have to sit out Harps’ two opening games of the second half; Friday night’s home tie against pacesetters Longford Town and the following week’s away tie against Limerick. His first outing in the blue and white is set to be in front of the home support against Athlone Town.
He has spent the last two seasons in the Irish Premier League with Dungannon Swifts having transferred to the Tyrone club in the middle of the 2010 season.
“I won’t be eligible to play until the July transfer window opens and I receive my international clearance and it looks like the Athlone Town game is going to be my first game,” Michael told the Democrat.
“I’m really looking forward to getting back and playing with the club again. I’ve always looked on Finn Harps as my local club and while I enjoyed my couple of seasons with Dungannon, it is good to be back at Harps.
“I feel my time at Dungannon and playing in the Irish League Premier Division has made me a better player technically and I have gained a lot of valuable experience. And hopefully I will take that all back to Finn Park with me.”
His job as a care assistant at Ballytrim House in Raphoe, and the shift work involved in the job meant that he found it hard to give the commitment required to Dungannon Swifts.
“The job includes shift work and it was very difficult to make training twice a week and play a game at the weekend. It was very demanding and I simply could not give the commitment required that was fair to myself and also fair to the club.
“I decided towards the end of the season that I was going to leave Dungannon and my intention was not to return to Harps but to return to Bonagee and play in the Ulster Senior League.
“It was only after I had a chat with Peter Hutton that I decided to return to Harps. Felix (Healy) would have been in contact with me on a fairly regular basis over the last couple of seasons since I joined Dungannon.
“Felix and myself have a good relationship and always have since he signed me first for Harps back in 2004 and he had been on to me a few times since the start of the year to return.
“But Dungannon were fighting relegation and I was not going to walk out on them until the season was over. I’m not that type of person that would walk away and leave them when they were in trouble.”
He has now signed on the line for the second time at Harps and has been back training with the club and is looking forward to getting that blue and white jersey on once more.
“I have been training with the club for the past week and have three sessions under my belt. There is a very good young squad of players at the club and they had a very good win in their last game before the break and I’m just looking forward to playing with them.”
It is a matter of now being patient and waiting on the July transfer window to open and that meeting with Athlone Town.
A hardworking midfielder and a real favourite with the home supporters and a noted goalscorer too – he scored nine in the 2009 season for Harps – his return has been warmly greeted by Harps followers.
His return and that of central defender Mark Scoltock, who has also resigned for the club, is a boost for the club, who have had a difficult first half of the season.
Fans are already excited about the Bonagee man renewing his partnership in the centre of midfield with Shaun McGowan, who re-signed from Kildrum Tigers earlier in season.
Roll on part two of the season.