The Finn Harps Academy reached another milestone on Tuesday night as the first young female footballers attended a trial session at the Academy’s training facility in Killygordon. The team will be managed by former Chelsea player and Academy stalwart Chantelle Grant.
Founded in 2012 as the Finn Harps Development Squad, the Finn Harps Academy works in conjunction with local clubs to provide high quality coaching to young local players. Growing from 25 players in a single group in its opening season, this year will see 6 groups with a total of 165 players involved. The Academy is run by just under 20 highly qualified and experienced coaches. No fewer than 6 of these coaches previously played in the academy in its early years, later returning to help bring more players through.
2 players from early groups, Mark Coyle and Oisin Hassett, have already featured in the Harps first team, while Simon McGlynn was in a later academy intake. The likes of Conor McDermott (Derry City) and Declan Sharkey (Galway United) have also come through in recent years. Many other players have progressed into the club’s U17 and U19 teams and graduates will also form the basis of the U15 squad.
Last year the Academy signed a six year lease on training grounds at Killygordon and since then has been working to improve the facilities there. As well as the many coaches involved, vital administrative support is provided by the likes of Michael Grant, Martika Grant, Sharon Grant, Dougie Mc Nulty Sr and Darren Kibbler.
Harps Academy teams regularly compete in the likes of the Foyle and Galway Cups. Harps U13s made the final of the Galway cup last year, losing out to Colorado Rapids. Harps academy members have also undertaken trips such as the recent visit by the provisional Harps U15 squad to Reading FC and a previous squad visit to Manchester City.
There is still time to register girls for trials with the Academy for girls born in 2005/06 and you can do so by contacting [email protected]
Meanwhile, there was no joy for either the Finn Harps U17s or U19s earlier this afternoon with both sides losing after conceding late goals against Shelbourne teams. At the AUL Grounds in Dublin, Declan Boyle’s 17s suffered the pain of Shels getting a very late goal to snatch a 1-0 victory.
But the Harps outfit still remains joint second in the table with St. Pat’s who play tomorrow against Longford Town. Dundalk now lead the Northern Section after a 2-0 away win over Longford earlier this afternoon. Boyle was struggling with injuries for the Shels and will now be glad of the break until after the Leaving Certificate Examinations when some of those players should be fit to return.
Meanwhile, despite Liam Walsh giving the Finn Harps U19s the lead midway through the first half, Shelbourne came back with three goals in the final ten minutes to win 3-1 in Ballybofey earlier this afternoon. Manager Joe Boyle was only able to name 11 players for the Northern Section game due to a plethora of injuries meaning he wasn’t able to make any substitutions. Despite that the team put up a really good battle and had the advantage of that Walsh strike but fatigue did set in and the visitors got back on level terms with ten minutes remaining before adding two more to secure the win.
Boyle was missing Lee McCarron, Dylan McCroary, Luke Nelis, Alex Carolan, Oran McConnell, Shane Blaney, B.J. Banda and Jeaic McKelvey. Similar to the U17s the Harps U19s now also have a welcome break due the exams and the manager will be hoping that the injury crisis will have abated significantly by time the season resumes.
The Harps U19 side against Shelbourne at Finn Park earlier this afternoon was Jamie Bell, Zac Brolly, Michael Doherty, Ciaran Kelly, Paul Ferry, Aaron McCready, Gareth Doherty, Ryan Finn, Jordan Ryan, Liam Walsh, and Dylan Mooney.