Joe Boyle has backed his young Finn Harps youngsters to make the leap into the Premier Division.
Last Monday night, Stephen Doherty and Michael Gallagher made their senior team debuts and played the full game against Sligo Rovers in the EA Sports Cup. Doherty scored the extra-time winner in the 2-1 triumph.
The duo, along with Niall McGinley – who has already featured for Ollie Horgan’s side – and Corey McBride, an unused sub against Sligo, were back on Under-19 duty on Saturday as Harps continued their good start with a 3-0 win over Drogheda United in Killygordon.
Doherty and Gallagher were subs for the first team for Friday’s Premier Division derby defeat to Derry City at Finn Park and Doherty bagged a cracking goal for the U19s on Saturday.
“It’s been an impressive week for Stephen,” Boyle told Donegal Daily/Donegal Sport Hub.
“Stephen is our captain and he’s our captain for a reason. He’s a good player who leads by example. His quality and work ethic are first class. That performance was important for him.
“ It’s difficult to step down from the first team so it was important for them to get back into it. It’s testament that they stepped in and gave a sterling performance and Niall McGinley and Corey McBride too.”
Harps have been making big strides in recent years at underage level. While the first team have yet to truly reap the rewards, Boyle believes his charges can force their ways into Ollie Horgan’s plans.
Boyle said: “These are ambitious boys and I have no doubt that they will step up. We have to keep their focus and keep the matches coming.
“Ollie has been bringing them in and out of squads. Games are coming thick and fast. Boys will get on the bench and some will get minutes here and there.
“We need to make sure that when Ollie needs them that they’re ready to step up and play.
“Ollie talked during the week about how difficult it is for fellas to play in the Premier Division. That experience that they’re getting now is great. To hold our own and get results at under-19 level is brilliant for them.”