“There should be one League” – Ollie Horgan blasts League of Ireland restructure


If this had been a normal League of Ireland season, Finn Harps would be facing the prospect of a play-off.

They have plenty of history in those, of course, but even that isn’t an option now with the League ready for its next restructure.

With three teams being automatically relegated, Harps are now in the elevator with their fingers now on the button marked ‘R’ for relegation.

They are five points from safety and have just two games to save their Premier Division status. Even six points mightn’t be enough now to avoid the drop.

Ollie Horgan, the Harps boss, isn’t about to wave the white flag – ‘until it’s mathematically gone, we’ll fight tooth and nail’ he insisted today at a press conference in the Clanree Hotel.

Already-relegated Drogheda United are in Ballybofey on Friday night when Harps daren’t do anything other than win.

“We’ll do all we can to turn Drogheda over.After that, it will be up to the Gods,” Horgan said.

Finn Harps manager, Ollie Horgan at a press conference in Leterkenny. (North West Newspix)

Ordinarily, the safety net of a play-off position would, at least, be laid out beneath Harps, 11th placed of 12 top flight teams at the moment.

Now, they look out the window at a vast drop to a shuddering mass of concrete that represents the First Division.

The latest face lift to the League means that three teams will be relegated with only one – the winners, Waterford United – coming up from the First Division.

Horgan, a blue biro quivering between his fingers as he addresses his audience, is animated as he assesses again the rejig.

“I see a lot of faults and drawbacks in it, but I don’t see any benefits,” he said.

“It’s not sour grapes – I have said this from day one.

“I said before the season started that bigger teams than Finn Harps will be in bother – and they are. If you take Galway, Sligo and Inchicore, with St Pat’s, how will going to the First Division benefit huge soccer areas like that? I don’t see the benefit.

“If we go down and whoever else goes down, it’s a savage blow to a full-time football area like St Pat’s, Sligo or Galway.

“The way we’re going, there’d be no guarantee we’d win a play-off either, by the way, but I don’t see the merits of this for any team.

“I was at the play-off a year ago between Cobh and Drogheda in St Colman’s Park and there was mayhem there, 3,000 people there and a brilliant atmosphere. What have Cobh or UCD lost from not getting a play-off?

“We had our budget decided beforehand and I’m sure the majority of the clubs had their budgets in place.”

St Pat’s and Sligo were said to have been two of the clubs behind the change and both are in danger of falling through the trapdoor, but Horgan wasn’t getting into a debate about who voted for what.

The Harps manager feels that it is time for the League of Ireland to have one division.

He said: “My own opinion is there should be one League.

“I said that before i got involved in the League and I’m saying that now that I’m in the League. I don’t see a problem with including all the teams who are there.”

Sports writer from St Johnston, now based in Letterkenny, with ten years' experience covering sport in Donegal. Was a nominee for NUJ Sports Journalist of the Year in 2010. Honoured by the Donegal Boxing Board in 2016 for his coverage on the sport.

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