MARK Anthony McGinley made a fantastic save to secure Finn Harps all three points against Waterford last weekend, but if things had worked out differently, he could have been playing for Donegal in Croke Park in the Super 8s.
McGinley was part of the Donegal panel at the start of the year, and the goalkeeper position was rotated between him and Shaun Patton in the early stages of the league.
Eventually Donegal manager Declan Bonner decided to go with Patton as his first choice on St Patrick’s weekend, and McGinley decided shortly after that to leave the panel.
It was expected that Donegal would reach the latter stages of the Championship, but it wasn’t an impulsive call from McGinley, and he felt the time was right to step away.
“I suppose it was a difficult enough decision. I think that was my fifth season.
“But you have to make the best decision for yourself, and if you look at it from last year, I think it’s something like 15 lads who have made the same decision.
“In terms of if it was a big decision, I suppose it was, but I’m happy with the one I made, and the lads are going very well and hopefully they will go on a lot further this year.”
McGinley wasn’t out of the spotlight for too long before Ollie Horgan got in contact with him.
Harps goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher picked up a bad injury against Dundalk, and Horgan needed some cover.
Gallagher’s injury has proven to be a long-term one, so to have a goalkeeper of McGinley’s quality, who has League of Ireland experience with UCD, is certainly a help to Harps.
“I think it was a few weeks after when Ciaran (Gallagher) got injured,” said McGinley when discussing how the move to Harps materialised.
“I was actually away. It was Easter time and I was in New York.
“I missed the call. My dad got onto me saying that Ollie had rang him wondering if I had changed my number or what.
“I wasn’t expecting it, but I was delighted to get it, and it was something I was interested in.
“Soccer up until I joined the Donegal panel was always number one for me. It was an easy enough decision to make.”
McGinley is still playing some gaelic football with St Michael’s, but he has given a commitment to Horgan that Finn Harps is his top priority.
He didn’t walk straight into the team, and while he did get a run out against Derry in the League Cup, it was six weeks after signing that the Creeslough man was given his chance in the league against Dundalk.
Harps lost to the reigning champions 3-0, but McGinley impressed enough to keep his spot for the next game against St Patrick’s Athletic and he has played the four matches since then.
McGinley said: “You’ve got Peter (Burke) there and Jamie (Bell) and Ciaran (Gallagher), and we’re all good goalkeepers.
“I didn’t expect to just walk in and straight into the team. I probably needed that wee period to re-acclimatise to it and get a bit of training under my belt.
“There’s a big difference between gaelic and soccer, and it has worked out thankfully for me.
“But there is a lot of competition there, and that keeps you on your toes, and you have to keep performing or you won’t be playing.”
McGinley knows Horgan from his time with Fanad United as a teenager, and he says the Galway native hasn’t changed that much since he was ruling the roost in the Ulster Senior League.
“Not really know. He’s still the same. He still gives out to me for trying the odd Cruyff turn now and again, so nothing has really changed,” he quipped.
It hasn’t been an easy season for Harps, and McGinley appreciates that they are in a precarious position.
However, they picked up a terrific win on their travels last week against Waterford, and have only conceded one goal in their last four games.
If they can continue to grind out results, then they should get enough points to at least make the relegation play-off.
However, McGinley says the team aren’t interested in looking too far ahead, and their sole focus is on preparing for Derry this week.
“It’s a positive dressing room, but you can’t get too far ahead of yourself. We had a couple of good results and then we came crashing back down to earth (against UCD) up in Belfield.
“It’s really just about taking it one game at a time. We have nine or ten games left but the only one we are focussing on is Derry on Friday night.
“It’s going to be a tough game and Derry are going very well, and they have a lot of quality with (David) Parkhouse and Junior (Ogedi-Uzokwe) who are back on loan from England.
“It’s not going to be easy, but you don’t get easy points in this league at the level it is at now.”