Rovers make the big moves in League of Ireland transfer market

by Dave Donnelly

Shamrock Rovers were the big movers in this week’s transfers market as they announced four key signings for 2021.

Defenders Sean Gannon and Sean Hoare arrived from Dundalk, while Bohemians playmaker Danny Mandroiu and Oldham Athletic midfielder Chris McCann also signed on the dotted line.

Manager Stephen Bradley has gone quietly about his business since the end of the season with a focus on the key areas the champions need to shore up.

PFAI Player of the Year Jack Byrne looks set to depart, with Mick McCarthy’s APOEL in Cyprus his likely destination, while holding midfielder Greg Bolger has signed for Sligo Rovers.

McCann will be a direct replacement for Bolger on the bench, while the mercurial Mandroiu will be tasked with filling Byrne’s small but magical boots.

Gannon returns to Tallaght Stadium after an eight-year absence, in which time the Ringsend native has won five titles in seven years with Dundalk.

Castleknock’s Hoare was expected to stay with the Lilywhites but the lack of a long-term offer at Oriel Park provided Bradley with the opportunity to further strengthen an outstanding backline.

Across the river in Phibsboro, manager Keith Long is dealing with an exodus of players as Mandriou was followed by winger Danny Grant, who joined Huddersfield Town for an undisclosed.

The former Crumlin United and Bangor Celtic man has reached his ceiling in the domestic league and looks set to compete for a first-team place with the English Championship side in January.

With winger Kris Twardek already departed for Poland and striker Andre Wright set to go back to his native UK, Long has plenty of work to do behind the scenes.

He has secured the signing of former Manchester City left-back Tyreke Wilson from Waterford, while goalkeeper James Talbot has committed to a two-year contract.

St Patrick’s Athletic have been quiet, with midfielder Jamie Lennon the only player re-signed for 2021, while keepers Brendan Clarke and Conor Kearns, plus midfielder Darragh Markey, have left.

Relegated Shelbourne have been the most active of all the Dublin clubs in the transfer market, with a clearout at Tolka Park matched by an influx of new signings.

Keeper Clarke has arrived from the Athletic, while Bohs duo Glen McAuley and Michael Barker have signed, as well as John Ross Wilson (brother of Tyreke) from Bray Wanderers.

Captain Robbie Benson looks set to sign up for the new season, while his former Dundalk teammate John Mountney looks set to make the move from the FAI Cup winners.

In the WNL, double-winners Peamount United have been dealt a blow with the news that midfielder Niamh Farrelly has left for a professional deal with Glasgow City.

Glasgow edged out the Peas in a penalty shoot-out in the Champions League in Clyde in September, and Farrelly is unlikely to be the last of an impressive Peas side to leave for pro football this window.

DLR Waves have been active as well, with 13 players re-signed from 2020, including captain Catherine Cronin, player of the year Fiona Donnelly and internationals Niamh Prior and Eve Badana.

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