Skipper Mailey's future at Harps remains in the balance
By Alan foley
The future of Finn Harps captain Packie Mailey is the main talking point in and around the Ballybofey club as they begin their pre-season this weekend.
The 22-year-old is currently mulling over two contract offers - one from Harps and another from Derry City. Harps manager James Gallagher met with the Convoy native last Saturday and has admitted that although his club probably cannot match the financial offer from Stephen Kenny's side, he does believe that Mailey would be better remaining at Finn Park from a career point of view.
"Packie needs to make his mind up," Gallagher said yesterday. "He has two offers and although we can't compete with the offer that he has received from Derry financially, I think he would be better with us from a football point of view.
"I met him last weekend and have spoken to him a couple of times since and there have been a couple of twists and turns. One minute he looks like he is going to stay and another he appears to want to leave, but it's a big decision for him.
"All I can do is try to persuade him that his future lies at Finn Harps, but I'm sure Derry City are doing something similar. It's something we would like to get sorted pretty soon, but Packie is a player we would certainly like to hold onto as he is a massive part of the club. Hopefully he will make the best decision for his career."
Gallagher also confirmed the signing of goalkeeper Chris Patton from Letterkenny Rovers and believes the native of the Twin Towns, who is also aged 22, is something of a rough diamond that could have a big part to play in the coming weeks and months.
"I watched Chris a few times last season at Letterkenny Rovers and for someone who has never really had real goalkeeping coaching he certainly showed potential. He's a local lad, who used to play for Ballybofey United, and is a Harps supporter. It's a good opportunity for him.
"After Gavin Cullen left the club we had a void to fill and Chris can push Ciaran Gallagher for the jersey. We want to have competition for places in all areas. It's a big step up for Chris, but the signs are there. With a bit of time and some hard work on his behalf, we have high hopes for him."
This week has also seen Ciaran Coll re-sign. The left-back, who is a former Republic of Ireland underage international, missed almost the whole of last season with a cruciate injury but made a return for the final outing against Mervue United.
"In a way, Ciaran is like a new signing," Gallagher added. "He has worked hard to get back and because of the amount of time he spent in the gym on the road to recovery, he is even stronger. He can bring another dimension of freshness and energy and he's the sort of player that other clubs would be looking at so we are delighted to have him back on board."
Harps will train on Saturday and Sunday this weekend and then follow that up with sessions on Tuesday and Thursday. As well the players already signed up - Ciaran Gallagher, Kevin McHugh, James Doherty, Mark Forker, Tommy Bonner, Christy Connaghan, Oisin McMenamin, Marc Brolly and Coll - teenagers like Raymond Foy, Gary Merritt and Aaron O'Hagan will get a chance to add to their debuts from last term. Aside that, the manager is also on the look-out for some fresh blood.
"At the minute, we are in talks with two of three players in regards bringing them to the club. We will keep working away on that front and should find out in the not too distant future whether things are positive or negative. The budget is tight but we will see what we can get."