Ireland football manager Stephen Kenny was guest of honour as the Finn Harps Supporters Club (Dublin Branch) welcomed members of the Donegal Dublin Business Network to a Social and Information event at the Tallaght Cross Hotel on Friday 29th October last.
Stephen, who spent ten years living in County Donegal when managing Derry City, attended the event to brief members of the DDBN on the importance of supporting community-based football clubs like Finn Harps, and spoke warmly of the County Donegal team’s ethos and achievements.
Ireland manager Stephen Kenny impresses young Harps fan Manus Dunnion at the joint Finn Harps DDBN event in the Tallaght Cross Hotel on Friday 29th October
An an event hosted by TV3 sports presenter and Donegal man Tommy Martin, those present were given an introductory presentation about Finn Harps Football Club by lifetime Finn Harps supporter and DDBN member Robert Love.
In recent years, Finn Harps’ Dublin Supporters Branch have been forging links with the Donegal Dublin Business Network, which has sponsored the prize fund of their annual Last Man Standing fundraising competition over the past two years.
On Friday, supporters club members hosted the reception to say thank you to the DDBN for all their support and the chance to help them learn a little bit more about Finn Harps FC.
Robert, who is also PRO for the Supporters Club, delivered a short presentation which described Finn Harps as one of Irish sport’s most remarkable sporting success stories. He spoke of Harps history and firm roots within the community promoting equality, diversity and inclusion across a range of areas. Robert highlighted the great work being done by the club at underage level, the academy, schools outreach programs, promoting positive mental health, nutrition education and road safety throughout the county were highlighted.
He also put the team’s recent achievements of staying in the Premier Division under Ollie Horgan into context, explaining that the League of Ireland’s sole representatives has a fraction of the budget of their rivals. He also showcased the supporters-owned club’s ambitious plans for a new stadium and centre of excellence for the whole county. Members of the DDBN were encouraged to sign up flex their personal networks to help make increased corporate and business support of the County Donegal club’s plans a reality.
A four minute video message for the meeting by world renowned ITV football commentator Clive Tyldesley was also shown. Clive, who has commented on 14 Champions League finals, four World Cups and four European Championships, described his first trip to Ballybofey, for Finn Harps’ UEFA Cup clash against Everton in 1978. He revealed he had been back for enjoyable visits to other parts of County Donegal since that initial journey to the north west and spoke fondly about his continued interest in the club and their recent achievements.
Guest of honour, Ireland football manager Stephen Kenny, then told the audience of his admiration for Finn Harps FC and all they have achieved against the odds within Irish football. He spoke of the passion of Ollie Horgan, his coaching staff, the team, supporters and club volunteers as well as all the wonderful developments at underage level and the importance of these developments being continued. He spoke highly of the many Finn Harps people he has met along his own remarkable footballing journey and paid tribute to Kevin McHugh and Shane Bradley in particular.
Making reference to Friday’s venue at the state of the art Tallaght Stadium, Kenny spoke of the need for all the stakeholders involved to ensure that the new Finn Harps stadium becomes a reality. He said that proper facilities like these would be essential in helping Finn Harps to grow their fan base and make match night experiences a more enjoyable experience for everyone who attends. Responding to a comment from by event MC Tommy Martin, Kenny said he was delighted about the sell-out crowd for Ireland’s upcoming Euro qualifier against Portugal at the Aviva Stadium and is looking forward to what should be an exciting game.
Stephen Kenny and Tommy Martin then drew the raffle winners for a signed purple Finn Harps jersey and other club merchandise which was kindly sponsored by Finn Harps FC and the Club Shop. The proceeds of this raffle will be donated to Donegal Down Syndrome, a charity which Finn Harps supports by placing their name on the club’s third change strip.
Afterwards, the audience made the short distance to the nearby Tallaght stadium to watch Finn Harps take on Shamrock Rovers.