Fr. Michael Sweeney blesses the new pitch at Diamond Park prior to Wednesday night's friendly match between the Donegal League and Finn Harps. Picture: Stephen Doherty
The official opening of the wonderful new facilities at the Diamond Park in Ballyare took place on Wednesday evening.
The €300,000 development includes a new playing pitch, floodlights and new fencing and they all combine to transform the ground into a top-class playing facility.
To mark Wednesday night’s opening, the league’s Oscar Traynor side, under new manager Raymond Shields, hosted Finn Harps in a friendly.
And as darkness descended around the Ballyare countryside, the new floodlights at Diamond Park shone bright in what was the first ever match played under lights at the Donegal League's headquarters.
Harps, despite the fact that they are facing into a crucial period in their season, fielded a very strong starting eleven which included a couple of players understood to be on trial at the club. They ran out 2-0 winners.
It was fitting that it was veteran midfielder Paddy McCourt who struck the opening goal on the new pitch. The Derry man played the first half and it was his early goal that separated the sides at half time. Niall McGinley came off the bench to score a second for a Harps side that also featured the likes of Sam Todd, Aidan Friel, Timmy Sobowale, Mark Timlin and Jesse Devers.
Paddy McCourt in possession during Wednesday night's friendly. Picture: Stephen Doherty
The game marked the first in charge for Raymond Shields and he will be happy with his team’s run-out as they continue their preparations for the upcoming Oscar Traynor Cup campaign.
Prior to kick-off, Fr. Michael Sweeney performed a blessing of the new pitch and facilities.
Donegal League: Michael Mullen (St. Catherine’s), James Doherty (Kilmacrennan Celtic), Matthew Crossan (Kildrum Tigers), Ryan Shields (Kilmacrennan Celtic), Kieran Gorman (Kilmacrennan Celtic), Shaun McGowan (Ballybofey United), Gareth Colhoun (Kildrum Tigers), Corey Gallagher (Keadue Rovers), JP Malley (Castlefinn Celtic), William Lynch (Kildrum Tigers), Jaydee Alawiye (Rathmullan Celtic).
Subs: Darren McGowan (Cappry Rovers), Aidan McLaughlin (Bonagee Utd.), Chris O’Donnell (Castlefinn Celtic).
Finn Harps: Peter Burke, Fintan Boretti, Aidan Friel, Sam Todd, Mark Hannon, Paddy McCourt, Jesse Devers, A Trialist, Timmy Sobawale, Mark Timlin, A Trialist. Subs: Dylan McGroary, Liam Walsh, Adam Duffy, Niall McGinley, Gareth Harkin, Keith Cowan, Mikey Place, Jamie Bell, Ciaran Gallagher.
The Donegal League Oscar Traynor team who played Finn Harps on Wednesday night. Picture: Stephen Doherty