Author: David Conway

Team News: Away v Dundalk

Sligo Rovers travel cross country for the second time in six days this Thursday as the Bit O’Red face Dundalk at Oriel Park, kick-off 7.45pm.

Looking to recover from a disappointing defeat in Waterford last Friday, Rovers will return to the scene where they put five past the Lilywhites without reply in early March. Braces from Max Mata and Ellis Chapman along with a Fabrice Hartmann strike saw Sligo record one of their biggest results on the road in recent times.  

Dundalk then took a point from the Showgrounds in April following a 1-1 draw, Fabrice Hartmann with Rovers’ goal that day.

John Russell’s men go to County Louth without the injured Conor Reynolds, John Mahon, Nando Pijnaker and Simon Power. Although both Pijnaker and Power have returned to light training. 

Stefan Radosavljevic is back in contention having missed the trip to the RSC. Radosavljevic played the majority of Faroe Islands’ Baltic Cup semi-final defeat to Estonia in Tallinn on Saturday and also took part in the friendly defeat to Latvia on Tuesday. 

There is further good news for Russell who has both Daire Patton and Kyle McDonagh to choose from after both players completed their leaving certificate examinations. 

Speaking ahead of the game, Russell said: “We are really keen to pick up a good result in Dundalk, particularly given where both teams are in the table and the fact that we are heading into the summer break after this game. We want to go into the break in a good frame of mind and with a good result behind us at Oriel Park. 

“We have a few players coming back after the mid-season break which is a huge positive for us.It would be great to come back after the break, facing into the Shamrock Rovers game with a few bodies returned and with a good result from Oriel Park in our back pocket.  

“We had an off night in the RSC last week, especially in the second half where we gave away a few poor goals. So this Thursday, in Dundalk is the perfect opportunity to right a few wrongs and get back on track.” 

Team News: v Waterford Away

Sligo Rovers travel to Waterford as one of the Premier Division’s form teams as the Bit O’Red make the long journey to the RSC this Friday for the second time this season, kick off 7.45pm.

Following back-to-back wins over Shelbourne and Drogheda United and having picked up eight points from their last five games, Rovers travel to take on the Blues full of confidence and knowing victory would take them level on points with Keith Long’s side who currently occupy fourth spot.

Rovers will be without a number of players for Friday’s game. Nando Pijnaker, John Mahon and Simon Power are each continuing on their road to recovery. While Stefan Radosavljevic is part of the Faroe Islands squad who take on Estonia in the Baltics Cup semi-final on Saturday in Tallinn and will miss the game.

Conor Reynolds also misses out as he recovers from an injury picked up in that win over Shels while all players taking part in state exams will be unavailable. These include Daire Patton, Kyle McDonagh, David Jonathan and Aiden Gabbidon. 

Rovers have already picked up three points in the south east this year. Ellis Chapman netted the game’s only goal in a win for Sligo down at the RSC in May. While Waterford returned the favour at the Showgrounds in May, Christie Pattison scoring on that occasion. 

Looking ahead to the game, Rovers boss John Russell said: “We picked up two great results over the June Bank Holiday weekend. But those games are done now and although it gives us something to build on, we must focus on a difficult game at the RSC.

“Both sides have already beaten each other in the other club’s home ground so we’re expecting it to be a tight encounter once again as neither team really dominated in either game. 

“We’ll be without a handful of players due to injuries, international call-ups and exams. But that’s the way it goes and you’ve got to be able to deal with these things as they come along. 

“We wish our young players sitting exams the best of luck and we’ll see them back once they are finished.” 

Rovers round off weekend with another win

Sligo Rovers 2 – 1 Drogheda United

Sligo Rovers rounded off a great bank holiday weekend for the club with a win over Drogheda United at the Showgrounds. A Mathew O’Brien own-goal was followed up by a Connor Malley strike which had Rovers well on their way. 

Drogs did make things somewhat uncomfortable for Rovers in the second half when former player Jack Keaney halved the deficit just moments after the re-start. However, the Bit O’Red, who announced the signing of winger Stephen Mallon at half-time, held on for a valuable win which follows up last Friday’s defeat of league leaders Shelbourne. 

The Louth side passed up three good chances to register a goal in the first 45. But were left chasing the game 18 minutes in when Stefan Radosavljevic’s free-kick was pushed on to his crossbar by Drogs goalkeeper Andrew Wogan. Malley’s subsequent follow up came off the unfortunate O’Brien who turned the ball into his own net. 

Evan Weir and Steve Bawa both missed chances for the visitors before Rovers doubled their lead on 43. 

Malley volleyed home after Drogheda failed to deal with Kailin Barlow’s set-piece from the Sligo left. 

Kevin Doherty’s half-time team talk did the trick as Keaney fired the away side back into contention with a clinical finish less than 40 seconds into the second half. While Bawa again went close a few minutes later as the Showgrounds stressed. 

Fabrice Hartmann could have relieved that stress mid-way through the second half. The German was tracked down by a Drogheda defender after he looked like he might meet Wogan one-on-one. But he passed up the opportunity only for the ball to return to him unmarked, ten yards from goal. The RB Leipzig loanee however, fired narrowly over.

Drogheda substitute Warren Davis had two late chances as they scrapped in vain for an equaliser. His first effort was easily swallowed up by McGinty eleven minutes from time while his second attempt three minutes from time lacked the power as he looked to place his shot towards the top corner. 

The result sees Rovers move nine points clear of the relegation play-off spot.. 

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; JR Wilson, Charlie Wiggett, Ollie Denham, Reece Hutchinson; Niall Morahan, Connor Malley, Ellis Chapman; Fabrice Hartmann (Owen Elding 81), Stefan Radosavljevic (Wilson Waweru 56); Kailin Barlow (Will Fitzgerald 66). 

Drogheda United: Andy Wogan; Luke Heeney (Killian Cailloce 86), Andy Quinn, Jack Keaney, Conor Kane (Warren Davis 60); Steve Bawa, Matthew O’Brien, Oisin Gallagher, Evan Weir; Ryan Brennan; Frantz Pierrot (Adam Foley 66). 

Referee: Marc Lynch.

Attendance: 2,167.

David Goulden

Stephen Mallon signs for Rovers

Sligo Rovers are delighted to announce the signing of winger Stephen Mallon on an 18 month deal. The Belfast native joins the Bit O’Red after a spell at local side Cliftonville and has signed a pre-contract to join up with Rovers on July 1 subject to international transfer clearance. 

The former Republic of Ireland underage international, who plays on either wing or as a full back, began his career at Sheffield United after spells with schoolboy sides Donegal Celtic and Olliver Plunkett’s. The 25-year-old then spent some time in the Australian A League before moving on to Derry City for a loan spell. 

In 2021, Mallon left the Blades to join Bohs where he spent two seasons before moving back home to Solitude and to Cliftonville where he recently won the Irish Cup. 

The 25-year-old was introduced to Sligo Rovers supporters at half-time during the home game against Drogheda United and speaking earlier today, said he is looking forward to getting going with the Bit O’Red.  

 “I knew from speaking to John that Sligo is where I want to be. The way he spoke about the club, his plans. I just really wanted to sign once he had filled me in as it really suits me”, he said.

Having previously played at the Showgrounds for both Derry and Bohs, Mallon knows what to expect from a passionate Rovers following. Although strangely enough, his first taste of the venue was an FAI Cup quarter-final tie in November 2020 during the Covid 19 pandemic. A fixture, against Derry, which was played behind closed doors.  

“It was in the cup where there were no fans allowed during COVID so it was surreal”, he recalls.  

“It’s a great stadium and I played there again in front of supporters for Bohs and saw what the atmosphere was like. It’s one of the best stadiums in the country so I’m really looking forward to getting out there.

Mallon kept a keen eye on what’s going on south of the border during his time back home in Belfast. The wide man has seen enough to convince him Rovers are good enough to finish the season strongly. 

“I know what to expect from the opposition. You know what to expect when the likes of a Shamrock Rovers or a Bohs come up here. A lot of players in this league have stayed here and gone from team to team so I’ll have already played against a lot of the players in teams we’ll face. 

“I’ve always kept an eye on the league and it’s wide open. We’re eighth at the moment but we’re not far off fourth and last week’s win over Shels was massive. We’re only half way through the season and everything is still there to play for.”   

Speaking about his new signing, Rovers boss John Russell says Mallon is a player who will fit in well to the way the team already plays.

“I’m delighted he’s signed. I’ve been tracking Stephen’s progress for a long time now and he is someone I have always admired. 

“He has real pace and power and I feel he will fit in very well to our system and our way of play. 

“We want players who can make a real difference from dangerous positions in the final third. Stephen is someone who can take the game to opposition defenders and excite supporters. Our staff and squad are all looking forward to getting to work with him.” 

David Goulden

Team News: Home v Drogheda United

Sligo Rovers will look to continue their good recent form when Drogheda United visit the Showgrounds for a bank holiday Monday Premier Division clash, kick-off 5pm.

The Bit O’Red have only been beaten once in the last five games with wins over St Pat’s and league leaders Shelbourne along with a draw away to title chasing Derry City the highlights of recent weeks.  

This will be the third time the teams have faced each other this year with both sides already recording wins against the other on their own turf. Rovers beat Drogs by three goals to one back in March at the Showgrounds, while Drogs recorded the same scoreline in defeating Sligo at Weaver’s Park a month later. 

In team news, John Mahon, Nando Pijnaker and Simon Power remain unavailable. While defender Conor Reynolds will miss out following an injury picked up in that win in Drumcondra. Both Will Fitzgerald and Reece Hutchinson will face late fitness tests. 

Charlie Wiggett returns from a one game ban having missed the trip to Shels. 

On the back of that recent upturn in form, Rovers boss John Russell has called on the Sligo community to come out in numbers as the Rovers face into what he has described as ‘one of the biggest games of the season’. 

“We need our supporters coming out in force on Monday to get right behind the team from the very start”, he said. 

“It’s easy to fill the ground at home when you’re facing the likes of a Motherwell or Viking but this game is more important. This is one of our biggest games so far this year. 

“This is a club built on the blood, sweat and tears of the fans and we need every one of them to make their way to the Showgrounds. This group of players are fighting for the badge and I know they relish playing in front of a packed out Showgrounds. We need everyone to play their part tomorrow evening.”

Big win for Rovers at league leaders

Shelbourne 1 – 2 Sligo Rovers

Goals from Kailin Barlow and Fabrice Hartmann, along with a string of stunning saves from goalkeeper Ed McGinty were enough to see Sligo Rovers become the first team to beat Shelbourne in nine games as the Bit O’Red picked up a hard fought three points at the home of the league leaders.

Barlow struck in the 22nd minute with a well worked move on the attack as Shels had pushed for the opener. 

The Tolka side levelled the game on the hour mark through Sean Boyd. But some courageous defending along with another catalogue of McGinty stops and a superb Hartmann strike on the counter 21 minutes from time secured a massive three points for Rovers. 

In front of a crowd which included former Rovers defender and Republic of Ireland skipper Seamus Coleman, John Russell’s side went toe-to-toe with their hosts who were denied by a great save from McGinty early on when the home crowd thought Boyd would slot past the league’s top-stopper. McGinty instead moving in time to keep out the former Finn Harps target man.

Rovers stunned the home support when he latched on to an Ellis Chapman knock on, flashing his strike in front of Conor Kearns and into the bottom far corner of the net.

Sligo dealt well with everything Shels could come up with, Already hit hard by several injuries, Russell then had to deal with a knock to Conor Reynolds mid-way through the half.

The in-form McGinty denied Will Jarvis and Paddy Barrett in either half before Shels levelled the game. Boyd making the most of a defensive slip-up in the Rovers defence before slipping a low drive past McGinty. 

Rovers battled on and scored a deserved winner on 69 minutes when Stefan Radosavljevic threaded the perfect ball into the path of the lively Hartmann who made no mistake in sending all three points back to the Showgrounds. 

Shelbourne: Conor Kearns; Sean Gannon, Paddy Barrett, Gavin Molloy, Kameron Ledwidge (John Martin, 67’); JJ Lunney (Liam Burt, 45’), Mark Coyle (Shane Farrell, 78’); Evan Caffrey, Matty Smith (Dean Williams, 78’), Will Jarvis (Jad Hakiki, 84’); Sean Boyd.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty; Ollie Denham, Conor Reynolds (Owen Elding, 28’), Reece Hutchinson, JR Wilson; Kailin Barlow (Sean McAteer, 90’), Connor Malley, Ellis Chapman, Niall Morahan; Stephan Radosavljevic (Kyle McDonagh, 90’), Fabric Hartmann (Wilson Waweru, 79’)  

Team News: Away v Shelbourne

Table-toppers Shelbourne are Sligo Rovers’ opponents this Friday evening as the Bit O’Red travel to Dublin to take on Damien Duff’s side, kick off at Tolka Park 7.45pm.

Rovers will make the journey to the capital in buoyant mood after last week’s performance at the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium. A game in which Rovers were unfortunate not to take all the points after Derry City twice came from behind to draw.

Sligo have already faced Shels this term. The Drumcondra outfit narrowly overcame Rovers back in March at the Showgrounds courtesy of John O’Sullivan’s 12 minute strike. 

This game is the start of a busy Bank Holiday weekend for John Russell’s side who will face Drogheda United at the Showgrounds just three days later, on Monday evening. 

In team news, Nando Pijnaker (ribs) and John Mahon (achilles) are both continuing their rehabilitation. While Simon Power remains unavailable due to a groin issue. Centre half Charlie Wiggett serves a suspension due to an accumulation of yellow cards, while both Will Fitzgerald and Ollie Denham will be assessed on Friday as they look to shake off knocks. 

Wilson Waweru also faces a late fitness test but Russell hopes to have him available for selection at Tolka. Meanwhile, Rein Smit departed the club on Wednesday following the mutual termination of his contract. 

Speaking ahead of the game, Russell said: “I thought the players responded in the right manner last week against Derry. It’s a really tough place for anyone to go at any stage of the season but our players showed a real edge to their game which resulted in a really impressive performance as we saw. 

“That fight and desire played a big part in picking up a really positive result in Derry and those attributes will be key as the season goes on and no more so than against Shelbourne who have had a really good season to date.”

“We have to keep raising our levels and continue to show that desire to keep picking up points.”  

Rein Smit Departs the Club

Sligo Rovers can confirm striker Rein Smit will return to the Netherlands as he deals with personal issues.
Following discussions between the Bit O’ Red and Rein, an agreement has been reached to cancel Rein’s contract so he can be in the most suitable environment at home at this time.
Sligo Rovers firstly wish to commend Rein for his courage in engaging with the club to allow us to support him with the services available.
The club has prioritised Rein throughout the last number of weeks and the mutual decision today is made with our complete support.

Rein Smit said:

“I want to thank the club and the manager.

“The people of Sligo, my team-mates and the place are all wonderful. It makes it even harder to leave. But I know this is the right thing for me right now.”

Bit O’ Red manager John Russell said: “We’ve loved having Rein at the club. On behalf of the staff and everyone in The Showgrounds, we thank him for his time here and being part of our club.

“We wish him well in these next steps and he’ll have the backing of everyone in Sligo in the future.”

Rovers take a point from the Brandywell

Derry City 2 – 2 Sligo Rovers

Sligo Rovers picked up an impressive and wholly deserved point from the Ryan McBride Brandywell, as the Bit O’Red drew two goals a piece with Derry City. 

The Candystripes had to twice come from behind to claim the point. Michael Duffy answered Reece Hutchinson’s opener and although Niall Morahan had Rovers ahead again in the second half following a quality finish from the edge of the box, City managed to claim a point courtesy of a controversial Will Patching penalty. 

Without a handful of first team players due to injury, Rovers really impressed in the opening half. 

Hutchinson’s opener on 18 minutes totally caught out Derry keeper Brian Maher as the full back’s dinked effort from the end line floated over the net minder’s head and into the far corner. 

Rovers goalkeeper Ed McGinty pulled off a number of sensational saves in this one. His first coming soon after Rovers’ opener as McGinty kept a well struck shot from Duffy out with his legs.

The Candystripes made three subs at half-time in an effort to try and take hold of this game.

Some brave defending and more super stops from McGinty kept the home side at bay for the majority. Although Derry did level the game six minute after the re-start when Duffy scored from close range.

Derry did squander a number of decent opportunities before Morahan put Rovers back in the driving seat 67 minutes. The Leitrim man making the very most of a Maher mishap before flashing the ball into the corner of Maher’s net. 

Rovers held out until the 83rd minute when Paul McMullen fell to ground very easily inside McGinty’s box, after Hutchinson was unable to control a ball forward from the Derry rearguard. Patching slotted home the subsequent spot kick. 

McGinty preserved a much deserved point at the death when he somehow kept out Shane McEleney’s close range header. 

Derry City: Brian Maher, Ronan Boyce (Cameron Dummigan HT), Shane McEleney, Sam Todd (Cameron McJannet HT), Ben Doherty (Daniel Mullen 74); Sadou Diallo (Patrick McEleney HT); Adam O’Reilly, Will Patching; Paul McMullan, Pat Hoban, Michael Duffy.

Sligo Rovers: Ed McGinty, John Wilson, Reece Hutchinson, Ellis Chapman, Charlie Wiggett, NIall Morahan, Fabrice Hartmann (Owen Elding 75), Stefan Radosavljevic, Conor Malley, Kailin Barlow, Conor Reynolds (Rein Smit 75).

Referee: Rob Hennessy.

Team News: Away v Derry City

The Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium is Sligo Rovers’ destination this Friday evening, as the Bit O’Red travel to face Derry City in the Premier Division, kick-off 7.45pm.

This will be the second time the teams will have met this season, following a scoreless draw between the sides at the Showgrounds in late February. 

In team news, Rovers will be without central defensive pair John Mahon (achilles) and Nando Pijnaker (ribs), while wingers Simon Power (groin) and Will Fitzgerald (foot) will also sit this one out.

Ollie Denham, Wilson Waweru and Owen Elding will be assessed before kick-off as they each look to shake off respective knocks.   

Speaking ahead of the game in Derry, Rovers boss John Russell said he’s looking for a reaction from last Friday’s defeat to Bohs in Sligo: 

“We were very disappointed with our performance last week against Bohs”, he said. “We all sat down during the week and reviewed the game and to be honest, there were some hard truths.

“Yes, we are down bodies at the moment with so many injuries but that was no excuse for the performance against Bohs. I and the staff are looking for a big reaction from the players. We still have a lot of quality in the squad and in whatever team we send out on Friday against Derry. I want to see the fight and desire necessary to pick up points in this league.”