The 2020 season was an overall success for Sligo Rovers, but was not without its challenges. The Bit O’ Red began the season with a series of losses and draws, gaining very few wins. When the League resumed in July, the team was revived, with a notable 3-1 victory over Dundalk in August.
Sligo Rovers went from sitting at the very bottom of the League table to securing European football. Something that seemed far from reach at the beginning of the season. Looking at recruitment for the 2021 season. It is evident that the club still holds this initiative to further progress. The team began their pre-season friendlies with a series of successive wins, and look prepared ahead of the season.
The midfield area was where Sligo Rovers struggled most last season. With players often dropping back to defensive roles, finding it difficult to create structure. This will be greatly improved with the signing of Greg Bolger. The midfielder has experienced success at St Pat’s, Cork City, and with 2020 League Champions, Shamrock Rovers. Bolger will certainly provide further competitive drive. As will his technical ability in the centre of the field. Sligo Rover’s player of the 2020 season, Niall Morahan also remains with the club. Morahan often proved pivotal in the midfield alongside Gary Buckley and David Cawley.
With the loss of 2020 signees Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe and Ronan Coughlan Sligo Rovers needed to re-vamped their front line. The void will be filled with the signing of Derry City’s Walter Figueira. Figueira brings a bout of experience to the club. Having come through the Chelsea academy and gaining International experience with Greece and Portugal. His spells in Derry and Waterford prove that he is a technical player and he is versatile. Liam Buckley will be able to play him anywhere across the front four. The front is further improved with the signing of underage academy-graduate Johnny Kenny.
The 17-year-old has seriously impressed during pre-season friendlies having scored a series of successive goals. Kenny looks likely to be on the first team squad as the League progresses. Striker Romeo Parkes, who scored 13 goals for the club in the 2019 season returns to Sligo Rovers. He spent much of 2020 in the USA due to personal reasons. Parkes admits that he returns to the Showgrounds with ‘unfinished business’ and is excited to re-sign for the club. Linkage between Kenny, Parkes and Figueira could prove very threatening. Sligo Rover’s attacking position was boosted even further with the signing of Jason Gibson who impressed for St Pat’s last season.
Bit O’ Red goalkeeper Ed Mc Ginty has signed a further two-year contract with the club. Mc Ginty is currently recognised as one of the League’s best goalkeepers, and has been called up to play with the Ireland U21 squad. Having played every game of the 2020 season, Mc Ginty brings further security and experience to the club. Former Sligo Rovers goalkeeper Richard Brush has also re-signed for the club, for the fourth time in his career. Brush has won the Premier Division title, the FAI Cup, the League Cup and the Setanta Sports Cup with the club and provides back up for Mc Ginty after Luke Mc Nicholas went on loan to Finn Harps.
A Solid Defence
Notable players such as Lewis Banks and Sligo native John Mahon have remained with the club creating a solid back line. The club recently signed Colm Horgan of Derry City and Robbie Mc Court of Waterford to further boost this defensive line. Another Sligo native Jason Devaney has also signed professionally for the club and is another defensive option. Shane Blaney proves to be another impressive signing. Blaney has captained for Doncaster Rovers and has won the EFL trophy.
Sligo Rovers without doubt have made some impressive signings this season. Although the club has lost players such as Junior and Coughlan, notable players have been called in to fill their boots. The Bit O’ Red has massively improved their front line. While also re-vamping their midfield, particularity with the signing of Bolger. The defense has also been greatly improved, with more options for the first team squad.
However, the club may need further development regarding the centre-back position. Having secured European football alongside an impressive recruitment, Sligo Rovers look threatening this season, and could likely finish in the top 3/4. Sligo Rovers begin their season with a home game to Dundalk on Saturday 20th March. This is a difficult beginning to the season for The Bit O’Red, playing President Cup Winners, but will be a very interesting watch.