Daragh Ellison who will captain Finn Harps U-17s in Saturday's final
Finn Harps U-17s will be hoping to crown a wonderful season by clinching the league and cup double when they play Shamrock Rovers in Saturday’s SSE Airtricity U-17 league final (3pm).
High-flying Harps, who won the Mark Farren Cup in September, will be hoping to make home advantage count on Saturday.
Frustratingly however, the match won’t take place at Finn Park after a decision was taken on Tuesday to switch the final to Maginn Park in Buncrana.
The forecast is for heavy rainfall ahead of this weekend and with Finn Park due to play host to the first team’s opening play-off match with Limerick on Monday evening, there are concerns that the pitch won’t be able to host two big games in the space of three days.
Finn Harps U-17s pictured before their semi-final win over Galway United last weekend
Still, there should be a big crowd in Buncrana on Saturday to watch what promises to be an intriguing encounter between two talented sides.
Harps boss Declan Boyle said his squad has put in a huge commitment over a season for which they began training last November.
“It’s been a long campaign, but to be fair to all the players, you couldn’t fault them for their effort and commitment,” he said.
“It’s a good sign when you are talking about a long season, because that means we’re still playing matches and we’re going well.”
Harps qualified for the knock-out stages in the league after finishing third in the Northern Section behind Bohemians and St. Patrick’s Athletic.
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They beat Bray Wanderers in the quarter-finals at the Carlisle Grounds and then last Sunday, came through their semi-final with a 3-1 win at Galway United.
“Galway were fourth in the group which was won by Shamrock Rovers and Bray came second,” Boyle said.
“But Shamrock Rovers are a quality side. They have four or five internationals and their goalkeeper, Gavin Bazunu is going to Manchester City.
“So it’s not going to be easy. The players though, will know that they have a job to do. It’s a winner takes all match on Saturday and hopefully we can play with the kind of confidence which we’ve shown this season.
“We’ve a good squad of players and it’s a fantastic occasion for them and for the club to be playing in a first ever national league final.”
Stephen McFadden, who missed last Sunday’s win in Galway, is hoping to recover from injury for this weekend. Long-term injury victim Jack O’Donnell remains out but otherwise, Boyle has a full squad available.
The team will be captained by left-back Daragh Ellison who along with the likes of midfielders Brendan Barr and Ronan Gallagher and right back Lee McLaughlin, have all been training with the first team squad this season.
Finn Harps chairman Sean Quinn is hoping the club’s fans come out to support the U-17s on their big day on Saturday.
“While we would have loved to host the final at Finn Park, we know the Declan and the team will get terrific support from the Inishowen football community as always when we play there, and our many loyal fans in the area will no doubt be out in force as well,” he said.
Finn Harps U-17s squad: Eoin McGing, Lee McLaughlin, Daragh Ellison, Stephen Black, Joel Bradley-Walsh, Jack Doherty, Corie McBride, Brendan Barr, Gabriel Aduaka, Ronan Gallagher, Conor Black, Adrian McLoughlin, Luke Rudden, Adam McCaffrey, Jamie Doherty, Nathan Logue, Dylan Woods, Finian O’Donnell, Jack O’Donnell and Stephen McFadden.