Finn Harps – 1958 By Bartley Ramsay

The Ballybofey and Stranorlar Association Club

The (Derry People) Donegal News of 10 May 1958 gave news of the General Meeting of the Ballybofey and Stranorlar Association Club.   It mentioned “arrangements were made for the running of a competition this year in the park which the Club acquired some time ago and which has now been vastly improved.”   The Competition was to be in the Knock-Out system for a Cup and a prize of £132.  As always with these articles, I have a request.  Would anyone have a photo of this Cup or know what became of it?

The officers appointed to take charge were Chairman Harry McNulty, Secretary Raymond Corry, Treasurer Michael Timoney.  The Committee were given as J. McGavigan, D. McNulty, Brendan McNulty, Ivan Kee, Drew Brogan, P. McNulty, J. Harkin, W. Duncan, Paddy McMenamin, J. Sheridan, S. Boggs, W. Roulston, W. H. Raitt, P.C., and A. Duncan.

Finally the report concluded “A detailed report on the improvement works on the Park was submitted. These include the levelling of the pitch, and the re-seeding of the grass. The E.S.B. pole which was also a hindrance to the lay-out, together with the lines it carried have also been re-routed. All in all, the pitch should now be one of the best Association Football parks in Co. Donegal.”

Two weeks later the first and second round draws were published in the (Derry People) Donegal News and were as per the attached cutting.

The first game ended in a 3-1 victory for St James Gate, Derry against Letterkenny Rovers.  The Donegal Democrat gave the scorers as McBride, Hegarty and MacDevitt for the winners and M O’Donnell for Letterkenny.   Killybegs defeated Dale Rovers by a similar scoreline, and Jim McGavigan from Ballybofey was the referee.  Both games attracted good attendances.

Harps kicked off their bid for the Cup defeating Raphoe Swifts by five goals to two. Ramelton Babes easily defeated Forest Hibs by four goals to one.  Derg Villa defeated Swilly Valley by six goals to two and the final first round game saw Lifford Celtic score five against Swilly Stars with only one goal in reply.

That led us into a second round which had the following fixtures:

Strabane Crusaders against St James Gate – unfortunately no score is recorded but St James Gate appeared in the Third round.

Afton Villa, from Letterkenny played Killybegs on Saturday 14 June and the game was abandoned shortly before full-time with the score being 4 goals to one in favour of Killybegs.  The reason given for the abandonment was “following a disgreement between opposing players as to whether a foul had been committed.    The referee was John Harkin from Ballybofey.

Kildrum Tigers then played Finn Harps and again no score is recorded but Tigers appeared in the third round.

Second Round games

Letterkenny Crusaders defeated the Ramelton Babes by three goals to one.

I have been unable to find scores for these games of the second round which were played between Derry Casuals and Derg Villa, Milford Celtic v Lifford Celtic and Kilmacrennan v Rathmullen.   I did find that Derry Celtic hammered Carndonagh Rangers by six goals to nil.

Third Round games

Kilmacrennan drew two goals each with Lifford Celtic which meant a replay and Kilmacrennan won that by four goals to two.

Kildrum Tigers were knocked out losing to Derry Celtic by two goals to one.

Unfortunately I can find no record of the other games to be played in the Third round but do have full details for the semi-finals as follows:

Letterkenny Crusaders defeated Kilmacrennan by a goal to nil with Peter Donnelly scoring the winner in the first half.  Best for Kilmacrennan were Willie McMenamin and Eddie Deeney.  Best for Crusaders were McMorrow, Kane, Stewart, Peter Donnelly and Liam Blake. The referee was J. McGahey from Derry.

In the other semi-final Killybegs defeated Derry Celtic by three goals to two. Derry led by two goals to nil at half time thanks to McCaul and an o.g.   Killybegs came back and scored through C. McGowan and Pat Quinn before getting the winner 8 minutes from time but no scorer is recorded. Referee was Harry McNulty, Ballybofey.

And so to the Final played on Friday 23 August 1958 Letterkenny Crusaders came out victorious beating Killybegs by two goals to one. The match report includes “The game was unanimously voted the best Cup Final witnessed in Co. Donegal ever! And the delightfull football wich was served up thrilled the crowd of almost 1,000 spectators.”  I have reproduced the match report from the (Derry People) Donegal News in full for your perusal.

The Cup was presented later that night at a dance held in the Butt Hall. The donor of the cup was Harry McNulty of Ballybofey who presented it to Frank McMorrow the captain of Letterkenny Rovers.