Shane Blaney has signed a new contract with Sligo Rovers as the defender looks forward to a second season at The Showgrounds.
The 22-year-old was restricted by injury during 2021 but still made an important contribution to the Bit O’ Red in the third-place finish.
The Donegal man joined Rovers from Doncaster Rovers last January and quickly took to life in Sligo.
“I’ve absolutely loved it here to be honest so signing back was a very easy decision. The set-up, the people behind the scenes and just the club overall is top class.
“I love that the town is so engrossed in football and about Sligo Rovers. I came from Under-23 football in England to here where every result counts for so much and the impact of a win or a defeat is huge. It’s what you want as a player.
“The best part of the season for me was when I got the run of games in the summer and it made getting the injury all the worse. It transpired it was a fracture but I was playing through that for nearly all of the games. We only discovered afterwards that it was the case.
“In the end we just had to sort it out so I did miss all those months. It was a bit of a nightmare in truth but we spoke at the club and knew it had to be fixed.”
Blaney returned with a standout display against Bohemians on the final night of the season – similar to another excellent performance when Rovers were a man down away to Dundalk earlier in the year in which Blaney was key.
“Getting back on the pitch against Bohemians meant a lot because I put in a lot of work to be able to play again this year. It wasn’t an injury to rush back from as the risk of it happening again was there without a proper recovery. I was delighted to play and I felt I did well on the night.
“I do feel the injury held me back a lot. I missed pre-season games last year as well and now with the work we’re doing now and pre-season to come, I’ll be ready to go for the new season. Nobody has seen the best of me yet. I can’t wait to show it. There’s great competition, not just at centre-half, but all over the pitch and if we want to go challenge at the top we need that squad.
“Last season is done now, we can be very happy with finishing in the top three but that’s got to be a target every year. The gaffer has been building each season and I feel we have to keep aiming higher. We all know the quality in the squad and I’m very happy to sign again.”
Manager Liam Buckley said: “Shane is a very good defender first and foremost. He has shown that on the pitch and over the course of the year he did well and was an important of the group. I’m delighted he has committed for next season.
“He’s a tremendous striker of the ball and he will benefit from this last year even when it has been disrupted. We also used Shane in midfield on a couple of occasions as well because he has attributes to go in there if needed.
“We saw on the final night of the year against Bohs what Shane is about because he was absolutely superb and great credit to him. It took a lot of hard work and patience to get back to that point.
“We’ve got three top class centre halves which is great from our point of view. We are building a squad for the next season and a bigger one than this year. Securing Shane for next season is another boost for us and we are pleased with where we are at this moment in time.”