AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
Cast your mind back to the final day of the 2021 Premier Division season and you will recall the jubilant scenes in Donegal as a resounding 5-0 win on the final day of the season in front of a capacity crowd cemented Finn Harps top-flight status for another season. The locals came flooding onto the Finn Park playing surface to show their admiration for the players with Tunde Owolabi, in particular, being heralded a Harps hero for his performances towards the end of the campaign.
A few months on, Owolabi is gone as are a host of other key players such as Will Seymore, Sean Boyd, and midfield general Mark Coyle who was such a key cog in the Ollie Horgan machine. Of course, this is not a new situation for Ollie Horgan who often casts his net far and wide when it comes to recruitment and that’s the path he has gone down again with a few mysterious oversea arrivals while Horgan has clearly taken a punt on Bastien Hery and Yoyo Mahdy who are highly talented individuals but have plenty to prove after lackluster spells elsewhere last season.
Drogheda United (Read their season preview here), are perhaps the only other side to have suffered a more damaging off-season in terms of key departures than Finn Harps, and given only goal difference separated the sides last season, it’s probably a fair assumption that there won’t be much between them in the league standings again this year.
That leaves only one question, is there a side in the league that looks notably weaker than both and while writing any team off before a ball is kicked is always dangerous, the answer would probably have to be yes. With all the respect in the world to UCD and what they achieved last season with a team full of scandalously impressive hot prospects, teams like Drogheda and Harps will probably have been glad to see the Students win the promotion/relegation play-off in November and they will now be pinning their hopes to UCD finishing below them this season.
BTS PREDICTION: 9th
STAR PERFORMER: Barry McNamee
ONE TO WATCH: Yoyo Mahdy (Lacking in opportunities at Shelbourne, it will be interesting to see if Ollie can unlock the talent we saw at UCD).