Finn Harps History By Bartley Ramsay – 1963/1964

During 1963/1964 it would appear there was a revival in the fortunes of Finn Harps. Certainly by going through match reports it would indicate that.

First mention is in April 1963 when Harps played a friendly in Finn Park against Strabane. Harps fell to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of the Tyrone men.   The report mentions “Although Strabane were the better and fitter team with the greater experience, Finn Harps held them well, considering it was their first turn out in four moths.  The losers were well served by their keeper Patsy McGowan.

In August 1963, it was mention that in the semi-final of the Leary Cup at Castlederg, Finn Harps would meet Omagh Boys Club.   I cannot find any scoreline for the game, but, Harps must have won through as they played Spamount Swifts, Castlederg in the Final.

It took three games for the Final to be decided.  In the first two games the games ended in 2-2 draws. I have no record of the first match, but in the replay Harps were 2-0 up at half-time before “The Harps defence collapsed in the critical stages of the game with Spamount attaching in full force and fading light.”   Harps scorers were Noel McNulty and Jim Boyle.

The deciding game ended with a Spamount victory by four goals to one.   The winners were 2-0 up at half-time. Their scorers were Campbell (2), Donaldson and Lindsey. Noel McNulty was got the lone Harps score.   The Democrat match report stated “It was a hard-fought game with Finn Harps getting a fair share of the play, but with Spamount getting the scores.”

In the same week in August 1963 it was recorded that Harps drew 2-2 in the semi-final of the Convoy Junior Assocation Football Knock-Out competion, played at Orchard Park.  Killybegs led 2-1 at half time with goals through Michael Boyle and Joe Murrin.   Harps equalised in the second half and their goals were scored by Fergus McNulty and Charlie Duffy.

Again, I cannot seem to find any result for the replay but in the Donegal Democrat of 4 October 1963 records that Killea had beaten Milford in the other semi-final and it would be a Killea v Finn Harps Final.  If anybody has any details of the Final, I would love to receive them as again I can find no trace of the score or match report.

26 October 1963 saw Harps play another friendly fixture against Strabane.  This time Harps own by three goals to nil.   Scorers for Harps were Malachy McNulty, Fergus McNulty and Charlie Duffy.  This match was obviously preparation for Harps FAI Junior Cup tie.

Harps played St Patricks (Killea) and drew the first game in Killea.   On the 9 November 1963, Harps won the replay in Finn Park by four goals to one. Scorers were Eddie McLaughlin, Noel McNulty (2) and John Kelly.   Killea’s goal was scored by Benny Crawford.   Harps team line up was Patsy McGowan, Thomas McCarron, John McCarron, Brendan McNulty, T. Sheridan, John Kelly, Jim Boyle, Tommy Peyton, Noel McNulty, Mick McFadden and Eddie McLaughlin. The match report stated “The victors were worthy of a hard-fought game in which for the most they had command, their defence holding firm throughout except for one slip which cost them a goal, and their forwards exploiting any scoring chances to good advantage.

The Donegal Democrat of 29 November 1963 reported that Harps defeated St Catherines, Killybegs at Emerald Park by three goals to one.   The game was the second round of the FAI Junior Cup Donegal section. It was reportedly played in atrocious weather conditions.

5 January 1964 Harps played their deferred FAI Junior Cup, Bonagee Celtic v Finn Harps in Ballybofey.  In the preview it mentioned that “Bonagee have good hopes of victory though Finn have a strong team. The winners will meet Swilly Rovers should the Ramelton team win at home this Sunday over Westport.”  Harps won through by a scoreline of 4-0 and the game was described “as a comfortable victory.”  Unfortunately I have not managed to trace a match report but that snippet was from Swilly Rovers 2-0 win over Westport.

On the 12 January 1964 Harps suffered a heavy 5-1 defeat in Swilly Park in Ramelton, in the fourth round of the FAI Junior Cup.  The Donegal News featured a big match report on their front page and it is reproduced below.  Tommy McCarron got the lone Harps goal, a consolation one at five goals down!   Interestingly Jim Sheridan played at centre-half for Harps, a man to later lift the FAI Senior Cup in 1974. Swilly would reach the Final of the competition only to lose out to East Wall United in the decider.

In the first weekend in August 1964 Harps won the Killybegs sevens competition. They defeated Sligo Celtic in the final by 1 goal to nil in a hard-fought game which went to extra-time.  Harps goal came in the first period of extra time.