Barlow signs two-year professional contract

Sligo Rovers are delighted to announce that Kailin Barlow has signed his first professional contract with the club.

The 18-year old has spent the last four years in the club’s academy after joining from Merville United and his former side Benbulben FC.

Barlow has represented the Republic of Ireland underage side at several age groups, from Under-15 to Under-17 and was recently on standby for the Under-18s.

Early in his career he played alongside Johnny Kenny and Peter Maguire in the Sligo-Leitrim side which reached the final of the Kennedy Cup and has been a leading talent in the Rovers academy.

He was just 14 when moving to Rovers and spent two seasons at Under-15 level, before moving to the Under-17s and this season was an impressive player for the Under-19 side.

A skilful attacking player, he can be utilised in a number of positions, including on the left side of midfield, as a number 10, and was also used up front earlier in some academy matches.

He will still be eligible to play for the Under-19s next season and has been training with the Rovers first-team intermittently this year.

Barlow is a student of Summerhill College in Sligo and will complete his Leaving Cert next summer.

Kailin Barlow said: “It’s every kid’s dream to sign for their local club as a professional and that’s how it feels for me.

“Earlier in the season Conor said there’d be a chance that a contract could materialise. I’ve been in with the first-team and then Liam Buckley met me one day about turning professional and offered me the deal. I was just over the moon and it was a really proud moment.

“As a player I like to have an attacking threat, play between the lines and make things happen. I’ve seen all the players come through to play for the club and get that chance and in that time it was my goal to emulate them.

“I think I had a decent season with the Under-19s this year. I’ve always felt my record was good in every team but I’ve been lucky with the great coaches I’ve had here and with Ireland. I’ve loved playing for the club and being part of each team so I’m just really excited to continue that as a professional.”

Barlow has watched on as his team-mate Johnny Kenny has flourished this season. The duo made their mark from the 15s to the 19s with Rovers, becoming a dymanic duo in those three teams, and they will now train together again next season.

“Johnny and I have had a great understanding and we struck up a great partnership. Between us there were a lot of assists and goals in those teams. It’s brilliant to see him do so well and I hope we can strike it up in another team now.

“I’ll be looking forward to pre-season and I know I have to keep fit and do my gym work before that all starts. I want to show people what I’m about and when the time comes I feel I will.

“There’ll be a balance of school and football next year which the club have spoken to me about and I know it’ll be a lot of hard work but I’m ready for it.”

Sligo Rovers head of academy Conor O’Grady said: “Kailin has been with us for a number of years and his ability is clear to see.

“He’s been one of the standout player in every side he’s played in and received international recognition as well with Ireland through every age group. This is an opportunity he has earned and I think we will see him continue to progress now as a professional.

“He’s a natural footballer, he plays off the cuff and in time I think the supporters here could really appreciate him because he’s an exciting player.

“Kailin is eligible to play with the Under-19s and has the Leaving Cert next summer which is the most important aspect of 2022 for him. He has been in with the first-team and the pre-season next year with the senior team will bring him on further.

“He has the potential and it’ll take some time and patience. This is a great day for Kailin, his family, and his former coaches from Merville and Benbulben and I’m delighted for everyone.”

Last night six academy graduates played in the match against Longford Town, with five of those finishing the game.

Sligo Rovers boss Liam Buckley has welcomed another graduate today: “Kailin is a talented player and his progress over the time he has been here has been great. We’ve introduced him to the first-team environment at various points so he can get a feel for it.

“It’s wonderful for him to earn this opportunity now over the next two years. He’ll be part of the group next season and as we continue to show, the chance is there for any player in the academy.  Again I have to congratulate the coaches at the club who have worked with Kailin to help him build towards signing as a professional.

“We will work with Kailin to help develop his game further and he can certainly go on to make an impact at first-team level in time as well as being eligible to play underage next year.”