Well known Ballybofey man Patsy McGowan was honoured at a civic reception in the County House Lifford last evening in recognition of his contribution to soccer in Donegal.
This Civic Reception was hosted by Cathaoirleach Cllr. Terence Slowey and by the elected members of Donegal County Council who were joined by the management and staff of the Council along with invited guests including former Finn Harps players.
Cathaoirleach Cllr. Slowey believes that honouring the contribution made by Patsy McGowan to soccer not only in Donegal but throughout the island of Ireland is very fitting.
“Patsy was instrumental in securing Finn Harps membership of the League of Ireland and in May 1969 Finn Harps were admitted into Senior Football. Under Patsy’s management Finn Harps went on to make history by winning the FAI Cup in 1974 and played in 3 European competitions. Finn Harps were regarded as the most attractive and exciting team in the country and people came in their thousands to Finn Park to support them”.
Chief Executive Seamus Neely believes that Patsy McGowan is synonymous with soccer in Donegal saying that “Patsy has been involved with the ‘beautiful game’ since he was 10 years old. In fact I understand that Patsy was at the meeting in 1954 when Finn Harps changed their name from Ballybofey Wanderers to Finn Harps”.
Patsy’s contribution on soccer was recalled by the representatives of the various political groupings who spoke at the Civic Reception. Patsy played for Derry City, Sligo Rovers and Weymouth. He also managed Sligo Rovers for three seasons and took them to the FAI Cup Final. But it is his contribution and passion for Finn Harps Football Club that was recalled with great fondness.
In his own address Patsy spoke with great emotion of his time with Finn Harps and how he brought a local club to the European stage in the 1970’s.
He said “I think I loved football from the day I was born. I had a dream and I did my best to make that dream come true. I would ask all of you to support people with a dream and to help them make their dreams come true because we need these people if good things are going to happen”.
He also spoke of his delight in being honoured with the Civic Reception saying “ in the 1970’s we did an eight match tour of America and the cities that we played in paid tribute to the club by presenting us with the key to their cities. This was a great honour but I can honestly say that this evening’s civic reception means more to me than all of those honours and that is because I am being honoured by my own and that is the most that anyone can wish for.”
Patsy was joined at the Civic Reception by members of his family, former Finn Harps players along with former and present members of the board of management of Finn Harps Football Club.