THE FINN HARPS MANAGER, Ollie Horgan, has suggested that surviving in the Premier Division this season would be a ‘much bigger achievement’ than getting promoted last season.
Newly-promoted Harps are odds-on favourites for relegation as they head into their first season in the top flight since 2008.
Harps defeated Limerick FC in a dramatic play-off in Ballybofey back in November, when BJ Banda’s header, late in extra time, secured a famous win.
Harps begin life back in the Premier Division on March 4 with a mouth-watering north-west derby against Derry City at Finn Park and Horgan acknowledges the stiff test that awaits his side.
While Harps supporters have had Banda’s header playing on a loop since that magical night in November, Horgan was quick to move on.
“I saw BJ’s goal the Saturday after the Limerick game, but I haven’t seen it nor have I gone looking for it since,” the Harps manager said.
“We knew what stage we were at and what kind of step up we were making.
“From the Monday after the play-off there’s been no looking back. We’re going in here with the likes of Dundalk, Cork City, Shamrock Rovers and Derry City.
“The general public expects us to go straight back down again.
“In fact, if we do stay in a full-time, professional League it will be a much bigger achievement than getting promoted.
“This time last year, no-one gave us a hope in hell of getting promoted. This time this year, no-one gives us a hope in hell of staying up. It would definitely be a huge achievement if we could manage it.”
“We need the supporters to understand that we’re going to have some bad days. I remember up in Tolka Park in the first game last season, we drew 0-0 and we didn’t play particularly well. There were 100-200 Harps supporters and they were brilliant for us. We again need them to be patient and to help us out on match nights.
“There are full-time teams who will struggle when they go to Oriel Park. We will have some very difficult days. That goes with the part-time set-up we have and we’re starting with four games in 14 days.”
Horgan had already brought in former Manchester United Under-21 defener Ryan McConnelll, as well as striker Ryan Curran from Derry City, ex-Bray Wanders and Derry attacker Shaun Houston and 19-year-old winger Liam Flatley, who was at Sligo Rovers last season.
Horgan has added considerably since.
Last night at a public forum in the Clanree Hotel, Letterkenny, Harps confirmed that they have agreed terms with former Sligo goalkeeper Richard Brush; strikers Michael Rafter and David Scully, both with considerable Premier Division experience; Adam Hanlon, who was at Bray Wanderers last season; and Ethan Boyle, at Waterford United last year and who Horgan capped for the Republic of Ireland at schools level.
Horgan, who will have Gavin Dykes as his assistant manager this year, said: “One thing was that they all ticked the box of buying into it. While we looked at some players nearby or in the vicinity, they didn’t want to come here or they had better offers from elsewhere.
“We spread the net further afield then. They all come with good experience. Most of them have played in the Premier Division already.”Tags: