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Double joy for Ellison and Finn Harps U17 squad

FINN Harps’ U17 team made history in September when they lifted the Mark Farren Memorial Cup, beating Cork City 1-0 in the final at Finn Park.
More recently, Declan Boyle’s talented young charges completed a historic first-time double when they defeated Shamrock Rovers at Maginn Park to lift the SSE Airtricity U17 League title.
Young Letterkenny student Daragh Ellison, the team captain, scored a late penalty to secure the win over Cork while Joel Bradley Walsh, Gabriel Aduaka and Conor Black got the goals to clinch league honours at Maginn Park in late October.
The eldest son of John and Sandra Ellison, Lismonaghan, Daragh has a younger sister Clodagh and brother Shane. A fifth year student in St Eunan’s College, he took time out from his busy schedule this week to recall what has been a memorable year.
“I really enjoyed the year. Declan (Boyle) is a great manager and the lads are all great craic. We’ve big Joel Bradley Walsh (Cappry Rovers) at centre half and then wee Jamie Doherty (Gweedore Celtic) in attack. We’ve lads from Killybegs, Clonmany, Malin and Gweedore and we all get on really well,” he said.
Two and a half years have passed since Daragh first made his debut on a Harps U17 team that included players like Shane Blaney (Doncaster Rovers) and Adam Byrne in their ranks.
“Adam got injured early on and I was lucky enough to get a change to play in defence with Shane. I was two years out of my age group. Physically, it was tough going early on but Shane was a great help. He still sends me regular texts to ask how I’m getting on,” he said.
The young left-back has had two trials with Stoke City while he’s on stand-by for the Republic of Ireland U18 squad which travels to Spain next week to play England, Holland and Belgium.
“It’s the dream to play professional football. I was over with Stoke on trial twice last year but nothing came of it. I was happy with the way it went and, who knows, I may get another chance. I’ve also had a few trials with the Irish U18s and I’m on stand-by for next week’s trip to Spain. That’s another ambition – to get an Irish cap,” he said.
Harps had a good league campaign under the guidance of Declan Boyle, finishing third in the Under 17 Northern Elite Division behind Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic.
“St Pat’s beat us twice and Bohs once which meant that we ended up third but we had a strong finish to the league,” he said.
A tough quarter-final against Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds, a game Harps won in extra-time, was followed by another win on the road  this time against Galway United before they beat Shamrock Rovers at Maginn Park to lift the SSE Airtricity U17 League title.
The first leg of the double – the Mark Farren Memorial Cup saw Harps beat Cork City 1-0 in the final at Finn Park.
“I was lucky enough to score the penalty with about two minutes to go against Cork but I thought that we deserved to win the match. We also deserved to win the league and credit to Declan and the lads,” he said.
Daragh moves up to the Harps U19 squad next season where another Boyle, Joe, is team manager. The new U19 season doesn’t get underway until February next but Daragh will be keeping himself busy over the coming months. This weekend he’s part of the Ulster squad taking part in the FAI Schools Under 18 Boys’ Interprovincial Tournament at the AUL Complex, Clonshaugh.
A talented GAA player he also hopes to play for the St Eunan’s Minor squad who contest the Ulster Minor Club Championship next month while he’s playing MacRory Cup football with St Eunan’s College.
“I enjoy playing both sports but it’s reached the stage where I can’t really play both – between training and recovery. I’m happy with the decision I’ve made but I’m also more than happy to play GAA during the off season,” he said.
Looking ahead to next year, Daragh is hoping to impress his new manager.
“I really enjoyed my two and a half years with Declan. I’ll keep my head down now over the next few months and, hopefully, Joe Boyle will give me the opportunity to play a few games for the U19s,” he said.

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