Patsy McGowan: Finn Harps should be wound up unless changes are made

Alan Foley

Reporter:

Alan Foley

Patsy McGowan: Finn Harps should be wound up unless changes are made
Patsy McGowan has claimed Finn Harps would be as well ‘doing the honourable thing and winding up the club’ unless changes are made.

Patsy McGowan has claimed Finn Harps would be as well ‘doing the honourable thing and winding up the club’ unless changes are made.

McGowan managed Harps on three separate occasions between 1966 and 1995 and was involved with the Ballybofey club since its foundation in 1954.

“It’s hard to sit by and watch something that you created just die,” he said this week.

McGowan managed Harps to the 1974 FAI Cup and made his opinions felt at the 40th anniversary get-together of that triumph at Ballybofey and Stranorlar Golf Club on Saturday night.

“It was more like a wake than a celebration,” he said.

“The club is dead. It’s at its lowest ebb in 45 years. It’s close to gone as it is,” said McGowan.

The former manager feels that unless things are turned around that they should do the honourable thing and wind up the club.

Harps have failed to contend at the upper end of Division One since they last obtained promotion to the Premier Division in 2007 as runners-up to Cobh Ramblers.

However, Harps were relegated 12 months later when the club spent a figure believed to be in the region of €900,000 having opted to go full-time.

Barring a five-year stint in the Premier Division between 1996 and 2001, Harps have been languishing in the second tier of Irish football for all but two of the last 30 years.

On Friday night last they lost 1-0 at home to Shamrock Rovers B - a result that means Ollie Horgan’s side currently sit second from bottom in the SSE Airtricity League First Division. The match was sparsely attended with 386 at Finn Park.

“This is no reflection on Ollie Horgan, who is a decent fella and doing his best,” McGowan said this week.

McGowan was critical of the make-up of the First Division, which contains only eight sides - one of which is Shamrock Rovers B, the Tallaght club’s reserve team.

“It’s a total farce and was made a farce when the Football Association of Ireland couldn’t find a club to put into the First Division so there’s now a reserve team in it,” he added.

“On Friday night last, Harps were then beaten by what was essentially a Shamrock Rovers youth team.

“The First Division is basically a token league to try and keep the likes of Harps, Waterford United and Longford Town barely ticking over.”

The financial drain on the club was not helped by the fact in the month of April, Harps had only one home fixture - when Wexford Youths were the visitors - while trips to Shelbourne, Longford Town and Waterford United had to be made.

Following the fixture against Shamrock Rovers B on Friday, Harps were defeated 1-0 by Galway FC away from home in the EA Sports Cup second round.

Before May is out, Harps must travel to Cobh Ramblers, Galway and Wexford in the league, with Shelbourne the only visitors to Finn Park.

McGowan and the late former chairman Fran Fields are credited for getting Harps into the League of Ireland in 1969. Harps were famously hammered 10-2 in their first ever match in the League of Ireland by Shamrock Rovers.

“We always struggled as our first result showed,” McGowan continued. “But we managed to put that behind us, won the FAI Cup in 1974 and qualified for Europe four times. You can be in debt off the field but if you’re in debt on it you’re in trouble because nobody will come to see you. I’m only saying what I’m saying because I care.”