Daragh Ellison says the Finn Harps Under-17s have been taking lessons in history ahead of this weekend’s Mark Farren Cup final against Cork City.
Harps have home advantage at Finn Park for Saturday evening’s final (5pm). Harps manager Declan Boyle has been reminding his young players of the importance of seizing the moment.
In 1999, Boyle captained Harps to an FAI Senior Cup final, but they lost to Bray Wanderers after a three-game marathon at Tolka Park.
Chances for Harps teams of any sort to win silverware don’t come around too often, but this one – named in honour of the former Derry City and Finn Harps player who died in 2016 following a battle with cancer – has extra meaning for Harps.
“It would be nice to win this,” Ellison says.
It means a lot. Mark Farren was one of Kevin’s (McHugh) best friends and Kevin comes in to help us out through the year.
“It’s great to be in the final. We’ve done some amount of traveling for this.
“It’s great to have the final at home. It’s been a long year and we’ve done a lot of work so hopefully we’ll get rewarded.”
Harps have been away from home in each of the three rounds of the competition so far.
After a comfortable 4-0 win in Derry, Ellison scored in the 2-1 away win at Drogheda and the former Bonagee United schoolboy registered again in the semi-final win over Bray. Ellison and Ronan Gallagher scored to put Harps 2-0 up, but Bray hit back to force extra time only for Jamie Doherty to win it for Harps.
Ellison says “We went 2-0 up before half-time and were cruising. We let in two quick goals, but I knew at half-time, with the work we’d done, that we’d have the legs. It was great coming up on the bus after a win like that.”
Boyle has been telling his squad of those heady days in ’99 when Harps flirted with glory three times only to be denied by Jason Byrne in the final.
Ellison says: “I learn a lot off Declan. He’s a defender so I pick up a lot from him. He gives a great insight.
“We prepare so well for games and we know everything about what we have to do.”
Ellison, despite his tender years, has spent a lot of time in training with Ollie Horgan’s first team this season and was on the bench for the 1-0 First Division win over Galway in May.
He says: “It’s great being up with the first team and being in with boys like Paddy McCourt, Keith Cowan, Ciaran Coll, all the big players. It’s great to learn off them and see what they do. The club is doing so well at all the age groups.”
Harps lost out to Cork on penalties in the U17 League quarter-finals last year following a 3-3 draw.
Harps have seen the likes of Shane Blaney, Marc Walsh and Connor O’Reilly make moves across the water in recent times. Ellison had a taste of the big time when he had two separate stints at Stoke City, who are still keeping an eye on his progress.
“It was all good and hopefully I’ll get another chance soon enough,” he says.
“It was top quality. You get picked up at ten past eight, go in get breakfast and go out to train at the same time as the first team. The training was unreal. You had to be on top of the game or you’d be shown up straight away. It gave me a taste of what it could be like; training in the morning and having the evening off.”
First on the agenda, though, is Saturday’s final – and Ellison wants the Harps faithful to come out in their droves.
He says: “We’re hoping for a good crowd to get behind us on Saturday.
“It’s not just for us and our families, but for all of these people, the likes of Aidan Campbell and Shane Elliott who do a lot of work around the club.”
“We’re going in very confident. We beat Derry 4-0 at the Brandywell on Sunday so hopefully we can take that form into Saturday.”Tags: