Harps add three new faces as squad takes shape

Finn Harps have added three new faces to their squad as their preparations for the new season continues.

Finn Harps have added three new faces to their squad as their preparations for the new season continues.

Former Coleraine duo Gareth Harkin and Paddy McLaughlin have been joined at the Ballybofey club by Lee McFadden from Buncrana Hearts and the trio are expected to be the last of the recruits from outside with only a handful of deals from last season's squad yet to be renewed.

Harkin is a versatile player who can operate around the midfield or off the striker. A son of former Harps forward Kenny, 23-year-old Harkin previously played for Fanad United, Derry City and Limavady United.

"Obviously I'm a Donegal man, so when James Gallagher called and said he was interested in me signing for Harps, naturally I was delighted," said Harkin. "I enjoyed my time at Coleraine and learned a lot there, but now I'm really looking forward to linking up with the rest of the Harps squad and getting a good pre-season under my belt."

McLaughlin, 32, will start his second spell at Harps, having played 18 times in the promotion season of 2007 and will be used primarily at centre-back. A former Derry City player, he spent eight years with the Candystripes and played in the centre of midfield where he picked up two League Cup and an FAI Cup winners medal.

"Its great to be going back to Finn Park because I really enjoyed playing my part in the Harps side that got promotion a few years back," McLaughlin said. "The manager is bringing quality players into the squad and combined with the younger talent that's at the club and I think we could well surprise a few people this season."

Goalkeeper McFadden, who is 22, played last season for Buncrana Hearts and has also played inter-county at senior level for Donegal's gaelic footballers in last season's Dr McKenna Cup as well as being part of the team that won the Ulster minor championship in 2006. Like his new manager, the Falcarragh native also kept goal for Cloughaneely.

The trio penning deals means manager James Gallagher has concluded his search for first-team squad members with former Sligo Rovers skipper Conor O'Grady the other significant new arrival. Gallagher will continue to cast an eye over Ulster Senior League trio Kieran Gorman from Letterkenny Rovers, Cockhill Celtic's Garbhan Friel and Neil Harkin from Killea, while Chris Breen, Aaron O'Hagan and Keith Cowan are the final member's of last year's squad to still pen deals.

"This year the First Division looks like been a very competitive affair again, so it was important that we have added players of Paddy and Gareth's calibre to the squad," Gallagher said. "I played in the 2007 promotion winning side alongside Paddy so I know his qualities very well. He will give us that extra bit of experience in the dressing room, which never hurts. Everyone in football regards Gareth as one of the outstanding prospects to come out of the county in recent years. I think he could prove to be an excellent signing for us."

After last Saturday's 1-1 draw with Sligo Rovers, Harps continue their pre-season with Sunday's JJ Reid Motors Trophy game against Derry City at Finn Park (3pm).