All at Finn Harps were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our former player Declan McDowell on 31 January 2023. Declan made 327 appearances for Finn Harps scoring 8 goals in that time. He is in 10th place on the list of all time appearance holders for the club.
Declan was born in Burnfoot Co. Donegal, on the 6 December 1951. His family later moved to Derry and that is where he grew up.
Declan played for Derry City in the Irish League prior to their withdrawal from the League in 1972. Declan was a member of Derry’s Irish Cup Final side of 1971 that lost out to Distillery. Declan had a brief spell at Coleraine when Derry lost their place in the Irish League. Patsy McGowan signed him for Finn Harps at the beginning of the 1973/74 season and Declan would remain as a regular until he left Finn Park at the end of the 1982/83 season.
During his time at Harps he established himself as one of the top defenders in the League of Ireland. Declan was part of the 1974 FAI Cup winning side, played in Europe on eight occasions against Aberdeen, Bursaspor, Derby County and Everton. He helped Finn Harps to runners up in the League on three occasions, runners up in the Tyler Cup in 1978 and twice was a runner up in the League Cup in 1974 and 1975.
Declan went out of senior football for a couple of years, playing for Oxford United Stars in the intermediate League and he played alongside George Best for Tobermore United in the Irish Cup. He was recruited by Derry City during their inaugural season in the League of Ireland and won the Shield with City, as captain, in 1986. He also won promotion from the First Division the following season with City before retiring from the senior game in 1987.
In 2019, at the dinner to celebrate Harps 50 years in League of Ireland football, Declan was one of our esteemed guests. I sent a text to him afterwards to thank him for attending, as did most of his family. His response to me was “it was a great honour to be there last night and also a great night. I had to leave early as I have 5 grand sons who were being looked after and who I hope one day will wear the Harps jersey with the pride that I did.”
Our deepest sympathies go out to his wife Helen, his children Roddy, Declan, Holly and Shannon, his grandchildren, and his wider family circle and all his friends.
Ar dheis de go raibh anam