BY CHRIS MCNULTY
FINN Harps have confirmed that they are to have high-level talks before committing to re-entering the Ulster Senior League for the 2015 season.
The news comes following the club’s withdrawal from the Ulster Senior League Shield, a competition in which they were due to face Drumkeen United on Wednesday evening. Late on Tuesday night, the Ulster Senior League confirmed that the game had been cancelled and awarded to Drumkeen after Harps confirmed that they would not be fulfilling the game.
Harps are understood to have conveyed to League officials that there was a ‘lack of coaching staff’ for the Drumkeen game with Reserve team manager John Francis Doogan unavailable and Niall McGonagle in Galway with the club’s teams competing in the Galway Cup.
Harps have been struggling to field in USL games of late and have put out threadbare teams, one of which took a heavy 9-0 beating at the hands of Derry City last Wednesday.
“We will have to have a discussion about the Ulster Senior League,” admitted club spokesman Aidan Campbell.
“Really, it hasn’t delivered on the investment for us. We are having a discussion at the moment on how to revamp our youth structure.
“We’ve had no in-depth discussion yet and there is no negativity towards the USL from the club. But we need to look ourselves at how best we can bring these young players along with us.
“In principle, the club would like to be in the USL. It helps keep us in touch with the county and with the clubs of the county. We have found it difficult to set up a structure whereby we are benefiting from young players playing in the USL with us.”
Harps rejoined the USL for the 2013 season after being away from the intermediate grade since 2005. Back in 1999, Harps – with a team including current club captain Kevin McHugh – won the USL.
Harps had been big fans of the ‘A’ Championship, which has been replaced by the Under-19 League, while a new Under-17 League is to be launched next year by the FAI.
Harps have already begun changes to their youth set-up.
Mr Campbell added: “It’s all about how you get a group of young players committed to more training and working on strength and conditioning.
“Being in the USL has been beneficial for first team squad members who need game time, but we have fallen between two stools at the minute. We will look at how we’ve been using it because it will have to be different if we go in again.”
Following the withdrawal of Kildrum Tigers just before the start of the 2014 season, the USL will be anxious to keep Harps on board to avoid losing another team.