Finn Harps Chairman discusses new stadium's impact on Donegal's football future


Credit: Finn Harps

Finn Harps Chairman Ian Harkin has stated that the club's new stadium will symbolise a 'legacy' for the Donegal footballers of future generations.

Speaking at a function before Harps’ away match at UCD on Friday night, Harkin was interviewed by Tommy Martin.

Alongside the Finn Harps Chairman on the panel were former Ireland international goalkeeper Shay Given, current Ireland midfielder for the Women’s team Tyler Toland, and legendary former Harps’ captain Jim Sheridan who led the side to FAI Cup glory in 1974.

With the event sponsored by the Donegal Dublin Business Network, Harkin outlined several of the club’s plans for the future.

Finn Park, the current home stadium in Stranorlar, has already had two games rearranged due to floodlight issues. Harps need a new home if they are to continue meeting League of Ireland stadium requirements.

Those two matches, against fellow-promotion pushers UCD and Cork City, respectively, were hurriedly pushed back to earlier kick-off times of 5 pm and 6 pm, to accommodate the floodlight problems by playing the match in daylight.

Subsequently, though, attendance nosedived with the new start time proving unpopular with many Harps’ fans.

According to the FAI Connect app, only 1,021 made the UCD match while Cork’s visit saw Finn Park’s lowest turnout of the season, with only 846 supporters present.

Pressingly, the matter of a new club stadium was addressed by the Chairman as ‘giving kids in Donegal in sport a reason to stay in Donegal’.

Toland, the only current player on the panel, echoed that sentiment.

She spoke about the need to provide young talents with nearer-to-home options instead of making routinely long journeys to Derry City or Sligo Rovers, to try to get their breakthrough.

Harkin further discussed the club’s ambitions at Friday’s function, including the development of a senior women’s team by 2026 with the U17 and U19 teams both in full flow.

He also disclosed that the process of finding a club CEO (Chief Executive Officer) is now underway with many of Harps’ backroom staff and members, operating in roles only on a voluntary basis, are ‘burned out operationally’.

In the Clubhouse bar on UCD’s campus, Harkin’s public acknowledgement that Harps’ current volunteer-run set-up was unsustainable was simultaneously a call for proper investment in a local club which relies heavily on its loyal, Donegal community.

With talks over a new stadium having been first floated in late 2004, like many of our gardens, Finn Harps’ current crop urgently requires freshening up on new soil if their future seeds are to flourish.