IT Sligo players confirmed for new season

Sligo Rovers can confirm that Niall Morahan, Darren Collins, Scott Lynch, James Robinson and Cillian Heaney will combine their football career with the Bit O’ Red and studying at IT Sligo during the third year of scholarship agreement between the parties.

All five players are registered to play for the Bit O’ Red first-team and have been part of the squad for pre-season.

Morahan has established himself as an important player for Rovers, while the remaining four continue to progress and will be first-team squad members this season.

Last year, IT Sligo reached two National Finals in the CUFL & CFAI completions which are both the highest levels in College and University Football.

Darren Collins is a Sligo Rovers and IT Sligo player

Collins and Lynch were part of several matchday squads and played first-team football, while Robinson and Heaney have been involved this year following progression from the Under-19 side.

Mark Byrne is also a former IT Sligo student and is now a senior Rovers professional.

Sligo Rovers CEO Colin Feehily said: “We’re delighted to see our link with IT Sligo growing stronger. This season we’ll see a high number of players wearing the Rovers shirt and studying here in Sligo. Education is something we are keen to offer our players. The first two years of the agreement have been very successful for everyone.

“Our target is that by the time the players finish their education, they will also be accomplished senior players. It is possible to combine both and I have to commend the players for their commitment to studying and football, especially during these Covid-19 times. Online learning has brought a different dimension to it.

“We have a couple of rooms where they can study in or attend a lecture before and after training, which is a great help for them to have that on site at The Showgrounds. I’d also like to thank the staff at The Knocknarea Arena who are a great help to us with their excellent facilities. Chris O’ Malley and all the lecturers have been brilliant to work with as well, and are really good to all the lads.”

Scott Lynch is into his third season with Rovers first-team

IT Sligo Football Facilitator and Men’s Head Coach, Colm Jinks, said: “At IT Sligo, we are delighted we have established this link with one of the biggest clubs in Irish football, Sligo Rovers. 

“Behind the scenes, both parties have worked extremely hard to create this elite football scholarship program and put in place a pathway for players to succeed at professional level football and achieve academically with a third level education which is so vitally important”.

 “IT Sligo has established itself as one of the leading sporting, third level institutions in the region and are showing their intent in being one of the best in the country by offering this amazing scholarship program along with all other scholarships available through IT Sligo’s football club.

James Robinson has been Under-19 goalkeeper and has been part of first-team training this season

“We are showing IT Sligo and Rovers are serious about paving a pathway for the younger academy players to see they can stay here along with combining their studies and playing careers. 

“We are going into our third year of the agreement and were really looking forward to welcoming more of these Elite players to IT Sligo in September.”

Sligo Rovers first-team manager Liam Buckley said: “The IT Sligo partnership is very important to us. The five lads all contribute to our group and form a valuable part of the squad and our training every day.

“Niall has obviously made the biggest impact so far in the first-team, but in time we’ll see more and more from these players. From my point of view it is good to see this agreement growing because it means we keep the best local players here and they also benefit with third level education in IT Sligo.”

Cillian Heaney is a former Westport United player

Sligo Rovers head of academy Conor O’Grady said: “We are very thankful to IT Sligo and Colm Jinks for their ongoing support.  We want to expand the partnership and have a pathway for our players to play first-team football for Rovers and also gain an education as well.

“Both parties are ensuring football and education is well-balanced. IT Sligo had a great season last year and they will do again when they are back on the pitch with the quality of these additions.

“Even as just one example, we saw Cillian Heaney as the latest academy player to play first-team football having made his first appearance against Galway United on Wednesday.  He has been with us for several years after coming from Westport and will now be a senior player as well as studying in the IT. That’s what we want here. Niall, Darren, Scott, Cillian and James are all doing well and they deserve all the credit for doing so.”

Visit the website at IT Sligo Scholarship for more information.