The biggest day in the clubs history was undoubtedly Sunday 20th July 1986. That was the occasion of the League of Ireland newcomers and former Irish League side Derry City visit to Ratoath Park. The Burmah-Castrol challenge between Ratoath Harps and Derry City drew a large crowd to the ground with the grandstand, which was built for the game, packed. The driving forces behind the ambitious plan for the official opening of the grounds were Brian Conway and Christopher (Johnny) Brady. Guest players strengthened the Ratoath team which was managed by Turlough O Connor and included Martin Rogers (Parkvilla) and John Swift (Shamrock Rovers) a son of a well known Meath and District Referee.
Derry City were heralded as the saviours of the League of Ireland football and had just competed a first season in senior competition. Noel King was the manager, but Derrys board had brought in Jim Mc Laughlin as general manager and his first duties with the club coincided with the visit to Ratoath. Brian Conway and Johnny Brady pulled off a remarkable coup by staging the match and Derry City attracted a good-size crowd to the venue. Former Meath Chronicle reporter Cathal Dervan, who is now sports editor for The Title newspaper, aided the club by promoting the game and producing an impressive programme.
Overall, the game was a huge success and gave Ratoath Harps a high local profile. For that game the facilities with the GAA were used, but a subsequent divergence of views, left Ratoath Harps out in the cold and without the use of changing facilities. With the benefit of hindsight, that episode was a blessing in disguise. The club reacted positively, installed temporary facilities and embarked upon an ambitious building plan, which produced a fine clubhouse and further enhanced the image of this progressive club.
RATOATH HARPS SELECTION v DERRY CITY
Back: Ronnie Murphy(Bohs) Aidan Gorman(OMP) Mervyn Ennis(Ratoath Harps) Robbie Cooke(Ratoath Harps) Dessie Quinlan(Drogheda) John Byrne(Bohs) Jim Grace(St. Pats) Turlough O Connor(Bohs) John Swift(Shamrock Rovers)
Front: Clem McAuley(Trim Celtic), Paul Elliott(Ratoath Harps) Martin Rodgers(Parkvilla) Gino Lawless(Bohs) Alan O Reilly(St. Pats) Tom Duff(Athlone Town)