Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan is remaining optimistic despite last season’s relegation heartbreak.
Harps were one of three sides to drop out of the Premier Divison at the end of last season to facilitate the reformatting of both divisions to ten-team structures.
Having seen a number of important players such as Ethan Boyle and Caolan McAleer leave in the winter, Horgan is under no illusions that it will be difficult to bounce straight back up at the first time of asking, as he told Pundit Arena’s Irish football Podcast The Mixer at this week’s SSE Airtricity League launch:
“Pre-season went ok, the off-season is difficult when you get relegated.
“Almost all of our side are gone. Some of them got great contracts and moved on and we’re delighted for them. Others probably just didn’t want to go through the First Division again, they’ve been there.
“We’re starting anew, and we’re trying to build again, but it’ll probably take time.”
Finn Harps did well in the off-season to recruit the likes of Michael O’Connor and John O’Flynn, and with players such as Mark Timlin and Paddy McCourt in midfield, the manager is happy with the quality in the team but also feels that with a young squad, the impact might not be instant:
“We have bits of quality sprinkled around it, but we’ve probably lost eight starters from the Premier Division when you look at the eight lads that have gone. We’re going in with a new team – I’m not trying to buy time for anybody here but I just think for the young lads, they’ll probably need time.”
Harps are among the favourites to win promotion to the Premier Division this season – a task aided by the re-introduction of the playoff system. Having fought hard to battle the drop last season, hopes are high that the club can replicate some of that fighting spirit for their promotion charge.
In this week’s episode of the Mixer Irish football podcast, we preview the 2018 SSE Airtricity League season, hear from Ronan Finn, Liam Buckley, Shane Keegan and Ollie Horgan, and we also pay tribute to the great Liam Miller.