Luke McNicholas Interview

It has been a busy season for Mayo’s Luke McNicholas who started the year on loan with Cliftonville in Northern Ireland winning the League Cup and challenging for the League title before returning to his parent club Sligo Rovers and was thrust straight into first team action when Ed McGinty transferred to English League One side Oxford United:

“Yeah, thankfully it worked out well for me as when I coming back after my loan spell with Cliftonville, Ed was the established number one and I didn’t know what the story would be as regards game time. It did all work out with Ed getting his move and I am where I am now and have the number 1 jersey and want to keep that spot.”

McGinty had been Rovers hero in the penalty shoot-out win against Bala Town in the Europa Conference League with McNicholas then being thrust into action for the games against Motherwell which he approached with the same mindset as any other:

“Yeah it was but to be honest I didn’t let that factor in and didn’t treat it as a bigger game than any other. It is a bit of a football cliché but I treated it like any other match and they were my thoughts going into it. I knew I was going to get the opportunity to play at some stage and that thankfully that came about for me.”

McNicholas had played the European games last year against FH from Iceland when Rovers had arguably underperformed and he feels that they learned a lot of lessons from those games that served them well in this year’s campaign:

“We knew this year that we had to do better. We had a taste of European football last season with the FH games and knew that we could have done a lot better in both games. European football is ruthless and you have to take your chances along with putting in a good performance. We approached the games this year that way trying to be ruthless in both attacking and defending and I think the Motherwell away game was the best example of that.”

Rovers campaign came to an end against Norwegian side Viking with McNicholas again feeling that as with the FH games there are lessons that they can learn going forward:

“With the Viking games, well they are a very good team and it was different playing a side that was mid season as opposed to pre-season it took away an advantage that we might have had in terms of sharpness. As well we were caught on the hop in the away leg with them getting the two early goals. In the long run it could prove to be a blessing in disguise as no more than with the FH games last season it thought us a few lessons for going forward.”

After McGinty left, Rovers worked quickly to tie down McNicholas to a long term deal and he has signed a new contract up to the end of the 2024 season:

“It was great to get that offer and to know that the club had that faith in me to offer such a long contract. I was delighted to get the offer and to sign.”

McNicholas has had a rollercoaster couple of years after a disappointing loan spell with Finn Harps last season, playing in Rovers two European campaigns, a successful loan spell with Cliftonville and now being the established number one for the Bit O ’Red and he hoping for more stability going forward:

“It’s has been some journey for me in the past couple of years but that is football and I have learned how things change fast. I want to push on now that I am the number one at the club and become an established number one in this League and see where that takes me. Ultimately I want to win many things and play more European games with Rovers.”

McNicholas is currently sidelined with an ankle injury recently sustained while on International duty with Republic of Ireland Under 21’s. He will miss the rest of the 2022 season and will be back in action again for the start of pre-season.

By Keith O’ Dwyer