Greg Bolger Interview

Greg Bolger played a crucial role for Sligo Rovers in Monday night’s 2-1 Premier Division victory against St Patrick’s Athletic. He missed last Friday night’s game in Drogheda, but got through an hour of dynamic play on Monday night. Greg was featured in an interview with Conall Collier in our Monday night matchnight programme.


Now, in his third season with the Bit O’Red since arriving at the Showgrounds for the start of the 2021 season, Greg Bolger has a reputation as a no-nonsense type of player.

Greg finished the 2020 season on the sideline having sustained a broken leg with his previous club, Shamrock Rovers, but he was happy to get the chance to play for then Sligo Rovers manager Liam Buckley.

“I was with Liam Buckley at Sporting Fingal, but that didn’t last too long, Liam contacted me again after he got the job at St Pat’s and I always liked the way he tried to get his teams playing football,” commented Greg.

“He was a man I had great respect for, not just for his football ethos, but for things outside of football also.

“Liam was always one to look out for players, on and off the pitch, it was the same when he was here in Sligo, he wanted the players to be happy off the pitch as he felt that it would reflect on the performances on the pitch,” he added.

Looking back to his early years in Wexford, Greg cited the strength of the junior game in his native county and also his GAA exploits in Colleges’ football with Good Counsel as hugely influential in how he developed as a player and as an individual.

However, he credits his older brothers with helping to develop the competitive side of his game.

“I have a competitive streak, if I lose that then I wouldn’t be the same player if you know what I mean, it all comes down to the fact that I just want to win,” he stated.

“I suppose I can blame my two older brothers, Seamus and Tomás, for kicking the shit (can I say that) out of me, when I was growing up – you can’t really put that in, can you?

“I loved the GAA when I was playing it at secondary school, one thing about the Gaelic, it would certainly toughen you up a bit and that can be a great asset for playing in the League of Ireland.

“I wasn’t too bad at the Gaelic football either, I won a few Leinster Senior Football A Colleges medals with Good Counsel, but I never managed to make it to the All-Ireland final, we were beaten in a few All-Ireland semi-finals, but it was great experience at the time,” he added.


I suggested to Greg that, perhaps, a referee might say to him before a game something along the lines of ‘Will I show you the yellow card now Greg, or will I wait until the game starts’ and he just laughed and commented:

“I’d say I have a good relationship with the referees, I talk to them a lot,” he admitted.

“You need to put yourself about sometimes, and sometimes I’d be on the receiving end of it, that’s the way it goes and I won’t be changing anything at this stage.”


Greg was a prominent young player in Wexford before there was even a League of Ireland side in the county.

“I played inter-league with Wexford at 16 and 17 and we had a lot of success, this was in the time before Wexford Youths joined the League of Ireland, I started out with New Ross Celtic and it sort of developed from there,” he said.

“The junior game in Wexford is very strong, I know North End Utd played Bohs a few weeks ago in the Leinster Senior Cup, that’s a good standard for those lads

“My local club, as I said, was New Ross Celtic and they enjoyed plenty of success at adult level when I was playing under-age, I eventually went to play with Cherry Orchard 17s and then went to UCD.

“Pete Mahon and Eddie Gormley recruited me for UCD, I was on one of the FAI FÁS Courses as they were called at the time and it developed from there, full-time football mixed with a bit of education.

“UCD always try to play the game the right way, lots of players come through UCD and then go to other League of Ireland clubs, I did it, plenty of others did it also.

“I played for the Republic of Ireland at u-19 level, Sean McCaffrey was the manager at the time, Sean knew his football and had a great way about him with the players. I also played for the u-23 home-based Republic of Ireland side on a couple of occasions.

“The way the League has gone now, it’s a young man’s game, you can see it, the opportunities that are there now, if a young player has a good season here then there’s the chance of a move across the water.

“Look around the League now and the average age of the players is a lot lower than when I started,” he recalled.


The club that is located at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, what about the prospects for this season and also for the future?

“I’m enjoying my time here in Sligo, I love the place, it’s great, except maybe for the weather sometimes,” he remarked.

“I’m doing a bit of coaching with the first team and also the under-age teams.

“My goal would be to stay in football as long as I can, it’s what I know best, I have always tried to learn something from the various managers I’ve met and now I’d like to be in a position to pass on some of that knowledge to the talented young players coming through the under-age ranks.

“I have the UEFA B badge and the next target would be the UEFA A, but as a player, I was very disappointed last season that we just missed out on a place in Europe.

“Apart from the financial benefits for the club, the European trips are great for the fans, for the supporters.

“I suppose the European games took a lot out of the players and that had an impact on our results in the League, we didn’t have the biggest squad, but you just have to get on with it and do the best you can.

“I know that the supporters really enjoyed last season’s Europa Conference League and we have to strive to make it again this season, it’s vital on so many fronts for the club.

“Look, we have to be challenging for a European place every year, obviously if you win the League, you are qualified and that’s the best way to do it, we have to target that.

“You look at the other teams, Shamrock Rovers, Derry City, they might be just slightly ahead of the rest of us in terms of strength-in-depth, but there isn’t a huge gap between the teams and it will be tight

“If we can produce consistent performances then we will give ourselves a chance, a club like Sligo Rovers should be in Europe every year,” he said.


Greg stated emphatically that he is very impressed by the people of Sligo, the supporters and club volunteers.

“Sligo Rovers, and more importantly I suppose, the people of Sligo and the wide network of supporters across the country, deserve great credit which they don’t always get, for sustaining the club and driving the club forward every season

“I didn’t realise what went on until I came to the club, how much of a big deal it is for everyone, the team off the pitch, by that I mean the committee, the countless volunteers and the wider groups of supporters, they all do a fantastic job and they deserve success, whether that’s winning the League, the FAI Cup, qualifying for Europe, it means a lot to so many people.

“You are kind of in a bit of a bubble going around clubs in the League of Ireland, I’ve been doing that for a good few years now, but what I see here in Sligo amongst the fans is a bit different, all the fundraising that goes on, all sorts of things.

“You know, there are no ‘big heads’ around the place, there are no big investors, it’s all down to the collective will of the supporters and that’s not lost on the players, you can see how much it means to everyone.       

“The longer you are here as a player, the more you realise just exactly what goes on to get the team on the pitch on a match night, that’s something that I certainly don’t take for granted. Putting it in simple terms, Sligo Rovers is a great club,” he stressed.


 Greg enjoyed success previously with current manager John Russell and is eager for more of that with Sligo Rovers.

“Myself and John (Russell) had great success at St Pat’s, winning the League, he knows football and now he’s on the sideline, but I’ll be doing my best on the pitch to make sure we get results for Sligo Rovers,” remarked Greg.

“John wants to do well for Sligo Rovers and he isn’t hesitant in any way at brining young players into the first team panel from the Academy.

“You can see the benefits from the work that Conor O’Grady and the other coaches do, the players who have come through, Ed McGinty, Johnny Kenny, John Mahon and more recently Sean McAteer, Cillian Heaney.

“I suppose it’s something that the FAI merits credit for, the Academy structure that has been developed over the last few years, it’s starting to pay dividends now in so many ways and the next goal has to be improved facilities.

“I was delighted to see that the club got planning permission for the development of the stadium, that’s great for the future and something that needs to be replicated across the League.

“Better facilities will benefit everyone, players, spectators, the image of the League, make the matchday experience memorable for all the right reasons, a family day out, that type of thing.

“There is a real European flavour this season around the club with various nationalities represented, they are all good people to have around the dressing room, but that’s down to John Russell’s ability to scout players in the first instance.

“Last season’s European campaign would have raised the profile of the club and now there’s a bit of a payback, but we need to sustain that European involvement.

“I think the spirit of the team was evident last season in the second leg against Viking, we really put it up to them, it was just so unfortunate that we got such a bad result in the first leg.

“But, a lot of the credit has to go to the supporters who really got behind us that night, what it really demonstrated is how important that level of support on a match night is,” he concluded.