Thomas McMonagle thought about things long and hard over the winter months.
His game time had been limited at Finn Harps last season and he dabbled back in the Inishowen League with Aileach FC after the end of the 2016 League of Ireland season.
McMonagle was back at his hometown club and considering making his return to the Lakeside – with its impressive new facilities having just been opened by FAI CEO John Delaney.
The versatile defender had his mind almost made up when he had his arm turned.
“To be honest I was seriously considering leaving Harps at the end of last season, but as you know Ollie can be a persuasive man,” McMonagle said.
McMonagle has spent most of his time in the last couple of seasons on the bench, but he’s determined to work his way into the first XI – and an EA Sports Cup run might be his ticket there.
McMonagle said: “Personally, my aim is to get an extended run in the team but, look, I know there are a lot of options this year and a lot of good players there now.
“I just need to make sure I’m ready when my chance comes. Hopefully I can get another run out sometime soon.”
Last year, McMonagle turned in an excellent display in Harps’ 3-0 win over Sligo Rovers at Finn Park. In August, he reached a significant milestone when, in a game against Bohemians, the 26-year-old Burnfoot man became the 65th player in Finn Harps’ history to play 100 games for the club.
McMonagle ended 2016 with 105 appearances to his name as a Harps player.
So far this season, the EA Sports Cup win over Cockhill has been his only taste of action – and he’s eyeing up a Cup run.
“Having a home game against Sligo, anyway, is a huge incentive,” McMonagle said.
“If we were to get a good Cup run and stay in the League it would be a very successful season for us.
“With the players we have in the dressing room now we have a good chance of doing so. Hopefully I can get in for the Cup game and just keeping showing what I’m capable of.”
McMonagle spent 2012 on loan at Harps from Derry City and played in every League game that year before returning on a season-long deal the following year.
In 2014, McMonagle was back at Derry and moved for a short time to Temecula FC in California.
He’d been training with Derry and Roddy Collins, then the City manager, arranged the move through a connection with ex-Celtic player Paul Byrne, who was managing the National Premier Soccer League outfit.
McMonagle played in the National Premier Soccer League for three months. before returning to join Harps in the summer of 2015.
McMonagle believes Harps have shown already this year that they have the necessary quality to stay in the Premier Division.
He said: “I think we have been performing well of late and we’re very confident.
“We just have to keep picking up as many points as we can to give us a bit of confidence going into the next run of games.
“With the addition of the quality in the squad we are quietly confident but you can’t take anything for granted in this League because you are sure to be punished.”
Harps made a number of notable signings for this season – and McMonagle has already seen the benefits.
He said: “I think the big difference this year is the strength in depth in the squad and, of course, the added quality always helps.
“With players like Paddy (McCourt), Jonny (Bonner) and Caolan (McAleer) and the rest of the lads coming in, it makes everyone lift their standards.
“It’s made the training more competitive and I think that can only help when you go into the games on a Friday night.”Tags: