Johnny Kenny has signed a new three-year contract with Sligo Rovers, the club are thrilled to announce today.
The 18-year-old has enjoying a stunning debut season as a professional, scoring nine goals in 21 league starts for his hometown club.
He also netted one goal in the Europa Conference League.
Having scored 23 goals at academy level last season, Kenny signed his first pro deal in January and joined Liam Buckley’s first-team squad.
He was on target in nearly all of the pre-season games and such was the impression he made, he started the opening game of the season against Dundalk.
The Riverstown teenager scored his first goal for the club in a 1-0 win over Finn Harps and has scored five in his last eight starts.
The new deal runs until the end of the 2024 season.
Johnny Kenny said: “When I signed my first contract 10 months ago, I was just hoping to get a chance and to start 21 games and score nine goals has been unreal. I really couldn’t have imagined how things have gone.
“I’ve loved it, being in the team and scoring goals, but I can’t play well if the team doesn’t play well.
“There’s been a lot of learn on how to finish games and fitness wise and as the season has gone on, I’ve picked up these things I like to think.
“The lads have been brilliant with me. The likes of Dave Cawley, Greg Bolger and Garry Buckley, they’ve done it all in the league and they’ve been giving me guidance. I also owe a lot to John Mahon as he really helped me this year. He was a big part of me starting off so well and I couldn’t have done it without him.
“I can’t thank Liam Buckley and John Russell enough. Liam has been teaching me every day, he has so much experience that he passes on and has put a lot of faith in me. John is giving me video clips on things I can improve on and that’s what I want. I’ll keep learning from them and listening to Liam and John.
“The season started off so well and we’ve come through a tough time and we just want to push on for the rest of the season. We know what we need to do to finish third and if we could do that, it’s another step forward for the club. In the first games I played they were behind closed doors and now the crowds are back it’s all the more special.
“The goal last Friday against Drogheda in front of 2,000 of our fans was unreal and I just want to keep doing it and keep helping the team in whatever way I can.
“I’ve signed a three-year contract as I know this is my club and I love being here. I want to achieve a lot here if I can and I’m delighted to know that commitment is in place.”
Liam Buckley said: “Johnny has been a fantastic addition to our squad this year. He has so many attributes as a player and a person and I’ve been delighted with his progress.
“He’s quick, strong, he has a desire to be successful in his own career and for this club and the group of players. He loves playing for Sligo Rovers. I said when he signed that we knew he would have a League of Ireland career and whether that would go elsewhere remained to be seen. Now we’ve seen his League of Ireland career has begun in a brilliant manner and the future is bright for him.
“He came in for the entire of pre-season and I have to give great credit to the coaches and underage set-up at the club because we could see what he had. If you can do it in training you can do it in games and it was clear he was ready.
“The most pleasing aspect is he has embraced it all. There is a high expectation here and what we’ve seen is a player of real character, someone you can rely on, and with buckets of ability. There has been pressure this season through different aspects and we’ve seen Johnny’s personality shine through, helping the team and scoring important goals. ”
Buckley feels the long-term nature of the deal speaks volumes how the academy players feel about the environment they are in.
The Rovers boss is pleased to know Kenny is tied down.
Buckley added: “By signing a three-year contract it’s a great testament to the club in the faith to get the best out of him and we will do our utmost to do so. There is a such array of young talent here and they’re all doing well.
“I feel Johnny will get better as we improve the team and the squad each season. It’s up to us to ensure we get stronger and stronger, that we’re competing at the top level, and he will be the jewel in our crown. We’re determined to bring this club forward and bring some big nights to the Showgrounds and he is made for those occasions.
“I’m delighted too because his position is a very difficult one to fill. Johnny is a natural finisher and a goalscorer. At underage international level he is highly-regarded and that is something he can look forward to as well.
“I know the supporters will be delighted today. Johnny comes from a great family with a Sligo Rovers tradition and they’ve loved seeing him do so well this season. I see Johnny improving for next season and having an important role in the squad.
“It’s taken a lot of hard work and effort to get to this point and Johnny knows he has to continue with that and we will guide it. He has all the attributes to continue the fantastic start he’s made this year.”