Eunan Blake

Eunan Blake

Following the death yesterday of their former player and manager Eunan ‘Busty’ Blake, Finn Harps Football Club has conveyed its deepest sympathy to the family of a man who was rightly regarded as one of the best footballers ever to come out of Donegal.

A club spokesperson said, “It was with deep sadness that Finn Harps FC learned yesterday of the death of Eunan Blake, a former player and manager of our club. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to his wife Katie; daughters Brenda and Karen; sons Garry and Tony; grandchildren; sisters Rosie and Mary and his brother Liam.”

Those sentiments were echoed by current Finn Harps manager Ollie Horgan. “Eunan Blake was a true football man and served Finn Harps very well both as a player and manager. Personally I wish to extend my sympathies at this sad time to the Blake family”.

Eunan Blake was one of the top players in the country in a senior soccer career that spanned almost two decades from 1955, when as a 17-year-old he joined Sligo Rovers where he spent seven seasons. A versatile defender, ‘Busty’ moved to the Irish League in 1962 to play with Derry City.

A decade later, in the final phase of his playing career, the Letterkenny man signed for Finn Harps in 1972.  As a player he was a member of the team that qualified for Europe for the first time, playing 21 times as Harps finished second to Waterford in the 1972/73 season. He was also a member of the squad who won the FAI Cup in 1974, but injury curtailed his appearances that season to just four matches. ‘Busty’ made a total of 25 appearances over two seasons before retiring from the senior soccer stage in the summer of 1974.

Eunan became assistant manager at Athlone Town in 1975 when the midlanders drew 0-0 with AC Milan at St Mel’s Park in the UEFA Cup.

He was appointed to the position of Finn Harps manager midway through the 1976/77 season in which his side finished 8th in the league.  In the following 1977/78 campaign, ‘Busty’ guided Harps to the runners-up position two points behind champions Bohemian FC.  Harps also made it to final of Tyler Cross Border Cup that season, beating Linfield and Glentoran but lost 1-0 to Shamrock Rovers in the decider.

In the 1978/79 season Harps played Everton in the UEFA cup and the league campaign saw a mid table finish (8th) after extensive rebuilding of the squad.  In 1979/80 Harps finished 5th in the league and in 81/82 finished 6th and made a cup semi final only to lose out to Dundalk.  During his time in charge at Finn Park, Eunan Blake was very proud to give a number of young Donegal born players their first start in senior football including Con McLaughlin, Sean Boyle, Packie and Dennis Bonner, Colm McGonigle, Declan McIntyre and John McElwaine.

After leaving Harps he returned to his hometown club Letterkenny Rovers where did sterling work as a coach and manager.

Eunan ‘Busty’ Blake made a huge contribution to Finn Harps Football Club and indeed Donegal football both as a player and a manager.  All at Finn Harps FC would like to take this opportunity to extend our sincerest sympathies to the Blake family at this very sad time.

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