Pijnaker hoping for Summer to remember

The past few seasons have seen a number of New Zealand internationals come to play in The Showgrounds including Ryan De Vries, Max Mata and defender Nando Pijnaker. The talented defender joined Rovers this season on loan from Portuguese side Rio Ave and De Vries played an indirect role in the move:

“How it came about was all a bit crazy in the end. Things had been really quiet in terms of a potential move for me and I was due to go on an international break with New Zealand in Dubai. I actually brought all my bags with me in case Rio Ave agreed to loan me out to a club while I was away. I was looking to try and get away to somewhere new so that I could get more game time. In the end the move kind of came about through Ryan De Vries who played here for a couple of seasons. There was a connection between his agent and my agent and that got things started and I ended up speaking with Liam on the phone and really liked his ideas and how he talked about how he likes his side to play football. So I thought why not and agreed to come here on loan and it has been a case of so far, so good.”

Pijnaker didn’t know much about Rovers or the League even though he did follow De Vries on social media, he spoke with his friend Adam Thomas ahead of signing to get feedback from him on what the League the like:

“I didn’t know much about Sligo before I signed, I was following Ryan on Instagram so saw his posts about the club and the town. Then I have a good friend Adam Thomas who has signed for Shelbourne and I talked with him and he filled me in a lot on the League and what to expect not necessarily on Sligo Rovers. So it was all a little unknown for me but I am really enjoying it.”

Indeed the links between Sligo Rovers and New Zealand run deep going back to Kevin Fallon who played for the club in the 1960’s and later went on to manage the country in the 1980’s. Indeed his son Rory is part of the coaching set up now for the national team:

“Yeah I was actually talking to Rory about this during the last international break. He told me that he actually came here to train with the club at one stage; I think it was when he was in-between clubs. It’s funny that we have that connection and quite cool that we can talk about the club and people who are involved with it seeing as his Dad is a former player.”

Pijnaker was also familiar with another New Zealand signing Max Mata as they two had played together for Swiss club Grasshopper:

“With Max we actually played together for Grasshopper in Switzerland for a year and get on really well with each other. I came here first and then 3-4 weeks later Max arrived which was great in terms of helping me to settle in. To be fair Irish people have been very nice and everyone involved with the club and the people of Sligo really helped me in those first couple of months and I feel well settled in now.”

Pijnaker is finding his feet in the League and has experienced both sides of the coin so far in terms of form as Rovers made a powerful start, had a small bad patch and now look to be back on track:

“So far it had been good albeit somewhat up and down. We had a great start and then a rough patch but that’s the way it is in football that there are times when things don’t go your way. That happened to us but then we got back to winning ways with the games against Finn Harps and Drogheda United. Now we need to keep it that way. I’m finding it really good. Football can be different in every League and every Country but it becomes easier to adapt with every training session and every game that I play.”

Despite his young age Pijnaker has already played in New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Portugal and now Ireland and feels that every League is different which can take getting used to:

“I think it’s quite different, it has been different in every Country that I have played in and that can take getting used to. Here in Ireland it is a lot more physical, transitional in play and there is more long ball played. It can be more demanding on the body. But then you have the top teams likes Derry and Shams and they are very good teams who like to play with the ball a bit more so there is a big range but on the whole I think the level is quite good. I just want to keep improving and keep my place in the side and help the team to do well and hopefully challenge for honours.”

Of course Rovers have European football coming up in the Summer which was a big attraction in signing for Pijnaker as he hasn’t yet played in any such continental competition:

“100%, it is really exciting and when the manager told me about the games it was something that really caught hold of my imagination as something that I wanted to be a part of. I’ve talked the lads to ask them what the games are like and they have told me and told me how we have got on the past. I just hope now that I can play my part in ensuring that we are in good form leading up to the games in July.”

Of course that isn’t the only big game on the horizon for Pijnaker as New Zealand will be playing Costa Rica in June in Dubai in a World Cup play-off with the winner progressing through to the World Cup Finals in December meaning it is shaping up to be a Summer to remember:

“For sure there is a big build up to that game. We have actually done a bunch of tours in the Middle East and played games there 3-4 times at this stage which will hopefully stand in our favour. We know what to expect, we know what the pitch will be like and how the weather will be. In international football you don’t get much time together before you meet for the matches so it is important that I am doing as well as I can for Rovers and playing well then hopefully it will be same for my team-mates and they will all be doing as well as they can. So yes 100% it is shaping up to be a really exciting Summer and I think you play your best football when you enjoying it and I am enjoying mine at the moment and hope that things can continue to go well.”

Pijnaker was keen for the loan move from Rio Ave as felt he needed to get stability in his career and have a good run of games something he happy to be getting in Sligo and he hoping that will continue:

“Things for a football player in the World of football can be very tough at times and I have experienced that for whatever reason. It’s not been my fault or the club’s fault and there is an element of luck needed, look at how this move to Sligo came about. At the moment I hope the coach here is happy with me and the club and that we can keep working together, that would be my goal.”

While he is enjoying his football and feels that Irish people share a lot in common with his New Zealand countrymen, he did have to admit that the Irish weather took some getting used to:

“The biggest shock has been the weather. I think in my first training session there was sun, rain, hail and wind!! So I was kind of shocked at that but in the past few weeks the weather has turned. But the people at the club and in the town have been great to me and it is a big help to be in an English speaking country. They do speak English in Portugal but it wouldn’t be their first language. I feel like the culture here in Ireland is quite similar to that of New Zealand and I enjoy the banter with the lads in the dressing room. We have a good group of players and have all connected really well and hopefully that can translate on the pitch and lead to success.”

Bit O’ Red legend Peers announces retirement

Former Bit O’ Red defender Gavin Peers has officially announced his retirement from Professional football today following his final game for Warrenpoint Town.

Peers had a highly successful career especially while here at Sligo Rovers, winning The SSE Airtricity League Title in 2012, The EA Sports Cup in 2010, The Setanta Sports Cup in 2014 along with three magnificent FAI Cup wins in 2010, 2011 and 2013 at The Aviva Stadium.

The defender arrived at The Showgrounds in 2006 when then manager Sean Connor signed him from Mansfield Town.

Peers started off his Rovers career as a right back until manager Paul Cook felt he was better suited to central defence, where he would remain for the rest of his career.

Peers was not just outstanding in defence but also a threat in attack from set pieces. One of the defenders most famous goals came in The FAI Cup Semi-Final in Dalymount Park against Bohemians, heading home Richie Ryan’s corner to secure a famous 1-0 win to take Rovers to their second FAI Cup Final in two seasons.

A testimonial game against Portsmouth at The Showgrounds in 2016 brought a fine end to Peers’ time at the club in front of a large home crowd.

He went onto play for St Patrick’s Athletic, Derry City, Glentoran and Warrenpoint and will be forever remembered at The Showgrounds.

We wish Gavin all the best and sincerly thank him for his service.

Academy Weekend Review: May 15th

There were just two games down for decision this weekend and both were in respective cup competition.

On Friday evening Declan Boyle’s Under 19 Men’s team took on Longford Town away from home.

Goals from Patrick Montgomery and Eanna Clancy ensured Rovers progressed to the next round in a 2-1 victory. Both sides played some good football in an entertaining game at City Calling Stadium.

On Saturday afternoon in Ballymun, Aaron O’ Connor’s Under 17 Women’s team were defeated 4-1 against Shelbourne. A goal from Katie Heaney proved only to be consolation as Rovers bow out of the cup. The Bit O’ Red did create some chances and could have had more goals on another day.

We’d like to thank our sponsors of all our academy teams:

Under 14: Alzheimers Society (on behalf of Paul Gallagher)

Under 15: O’ Connor Cabins

Under 17 Men’s: Ivor Parke

Under 19 Men’s: EJ Menswear

Under 19 Women’s: Overstock

Report: Rovers 1-1 St Patrick’s Athletic

Rovers hosted St Patrick’s Athletic on Saturday night in front of 2,213 supporters at The Showgrounds.

The Bit O’ Red came into the game on the back of a disappointing weekend last week with two defeats to Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers. On the other hand, the visitors came into the game having picked up four points from a possible six after beating Drogheda United and drawing in Derry.

Liam Buckley made a host of changes to the starting team with eight in total. Nando Pijnaker, Max Mata and Jordan Hamilton all picked up knocks in Monday’s Tallaght defeat and were replaced by Shane Blaney, Aidan Keena and Will Fitzgerald. David Cawley also returned following injury and Niall Morahan, Ed McGinty and Paddy Kirk also came into the team having missed out on Monday night.

Both sides played some good football in the opening period with neither side being able to create any major chances. Rovers did go close through Keena early on and Lewis Banks tested the St Pat’s goalkeeper. Joe Redmond went closest for the visitors with his shot needing to be tipped over by McGinty in Rovers’ goal.

On 37 minutes, Rovers took the lead. McGinty’s long ball was headed on by Karl O’ Sullivan into the path of David Cawley who saw Aidan Keena run in behind him. Cawley’s flick was inch perfect and Keena came onto the ball and curled a beautiful strike around Anang and into the far corner.

Eoin Doyle went close soon after as his headed went just wide from Adam O’ Reilly’s cross.

The second half started quickly and it wasn’t long before St Pats were level. Eoin Doyle ran onto a long ball down the left and he composed himself before finding Darragh Burns in the box and the winger cooly converted from close range. Rovers were unhappy with the goal as they felt Burns was in an offside position, but the goal stood.

From then on both sides went in search of a winner. The game ebbed and flowed and Rovers threatened through the likes of Cawley, O’ Sullivan, Fitzgerald and Keena on the counter attack. Greg Bolger and Niall Morahan were steady behind the front four and stopped some encouraging St Pats counters of their own.

Ben McCormack found Burns again in the area but McGinty was out quickly to deny him a second goal and soon after Garry Buckley almost scored from a close range header.

Cillian Heaney replaced Keena in Rovers’ only change and he worked hard up front for the final twenty minutes or so but couldn’t create any chances of note and the game ended all square.

Next up for Rovers is a trip to Dalymount Park on Friday night to take on Bohemians at 7.45pm before hosting Derry City three days later at The Showgrounds on Monday May 23rd.

Report: DLR Waves 3-2 Rovers

The second series of WNL action took Sligo Rovers to The UCD Bowl this evening where they faced DLR Waves and were edged out by the odd goal of five as substitute Kate Mooney claimed an 81st minute winner for the hosts writes Conall Collier.

This was an excellent display by the Sligo Rovers players who will feel disappointed not to have won the game as they had some excellent late chances.

The Dublin side had manager Graham Kelly seated in the stand serving the first of a three-game suspension, but that didn’t have any impact on the pitch as the game flowed from end-to-end during a frantic 90 minutes.

Gemma McGuinness had Sligo Rovers in the lead after only 10 minutes when she raced through the DLR defence and finished confidently past Eve Badana.

DLR countered, but it was a further 10 minutes before thay tested Amy Mahon who saved well from a firmly stuck Rachael Doyle shot.

The hosts continued to surge forward in the sweltering heat and Mahon was kept busy between the posts while the Bit O’Red threatened on the break.

DLR were rewarded for all the pressure in the 40th minute when Sophie Watters headed the equaliser at the far post.

The second-half was only five minutes old when DLR hit the front after substitute Avril Brierley capitalised on a loose ball in the penalty area.

Brierley was denied again soon after when Mahon saved smartly at the expense of a corner.

On the hour the Bit O’Red levelled when Emma Doherty rifled to the net as the palyers on each side maintained the high tempo.

The Rovers were denied by the crossbar after a surging run by Kerri O’Hara and DLR countered swiftly to create an opening, but the danger was averted.

Paula McGrory then had a chance for the Rovers, but her effort skimmed the bottom of the post with 20 minutes remaining.

Another DLR substitute, Kate Mooney, rocketed a header to the net in the 81st minute, but the visitors had one last chance in added time when Gemma McGuinness found space in the DLR penalty area, but her shot was saved.

Next up for Rovers is a home game against Cork City at 2pm next Saturday afternoon.

DLR Waves – Eve Badana; Lynn Craven, Jess Gleeson, Fiona Donnelly, Rachael Doyle, Kerri Letmon, Katie Malone, Aoife Brophy, Sophie Watters, Oleta Griffin, Sara McKevitt.

Subs – Avril Brierley for McKevitt 8 mins, Kate Mooney for Letmon and Orla Fitzpatrick for Doyle 72 mins, Nadine Clare for Donnelly 82 mins.

Sligo Rovers – Amy Mahon; Leah Kelly, Orna O’Dowd, Amy Hyndman, Gemma McGuinness, Lauren Boles, Emma Doherty, Amy Roddy, Kerri O’Hara, Fiona Doherty, Paula McGrory.

Subs – Helen Monaghan for O’Hara 75 mins, Aoife Brennan for F Doherty 81 mins, Katie Melly for Kelly and Sarah Kiernan for Hyndman 86 mins

Referee – Clare Purcell.

St Pat’s Match Programme preview

Tonight’s Official Match Programme is available for just €4 from our Programme team.

This week we have all our usual pieces from manager Liam Buckley and Chairman Tommy Higgins who look back on recent results and on tonight’s fixture.

Our Match Sponsors are Hegarty Armstrong Solicitors and they wish the Bit O’ Red the best of luck in tonight’s big game.

Calry Bohs Youths are our guests tonight and we will get a little insight into the club as well as a photo from one of their youth teams.

Conall Collier’s article ‘Treat It Seriously or Forget About It’ is a great read and Keith O’ Dwyer recently sat down with Bit O’ Red defender NandoPijnaker to talk all things Sligo Rovers and New Zealand.

We have the latest actions shots from our recent Academy games thanks to club photographer Michael Melly and we take a look at both the Bit O’ Red squad and our visitors St Patrick’s Athletic with an in depth look at both teams.

Stephen McLoughlin and Joe Molloy also have their usual pieces as well as our Rack Your Brains Quiz, upcoming fixtures and more.

Get your copy inside the turnstiles from 6.30pm #bitored

Academy Weekend Preview: May 13th

It’s the start of a quieter weekend than most for our Academy teams with just just two competitive games.

Our Under 19 side travel to Longford this evening to face Longford Town at 7.45pm in The Under 19 Cup.

The squad have qualified for the Elite Phase of the cup and now focus turns to cup action this evening.

Tomorrow, our Under 17 Women’s side travel to Dublin to face Shelbourne in Ballymun. This is in The Under 17 Women’s Cup.

The girls will be looking to repeat their last visit to Dublin a fortnight ago where they defeated Bohemians in the league.

You can as always follow our Sligo Rovers Academy pages on social media for updates on scores.

Preview: Rovers host St Patrick’s Athletic on Saturday

The Bit O’ Red are back in action tomorrow night as we take on St Patrick’s Athletic at The Showgrounds (7.45pm).

Rovers are currently in fifth place, four points behind St Pat’s who are in third.

Rovers come into the game on the back of two defeats in Dublin last weekend against Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers. The visitors are in better form recently with four points from their last two fixtures, winning in Drogheda and drawing 0-0 in Derry last Monday night.

The game will see the return of former Rovers’ striker Eoin Doyle for the first time since his departure at the end of the 2011 FAI Cup Winning season and another former player, Tim Clancy takes charge of them for the first time at The Showgrounds since taking over in the winter.

Manager Liam Buckley:

‘’We were bitterly disappointed not to pick up any results over the weekend last week. I thought we didn’t start well in Tolka Park against Shelbourne and some mistakes on our part cost us a couple of goals. The second half was better but, overall, we know we need to do better.

We started much better on Monday night. I thought we passed it well at times but just couldn’t create any clear-cut chances in the first half. Even in the second half we created more chances and could have had two or three goals ourselves.

They are probably the best team in the league and when they can bring on the four quality players they did at half-time that changed things.

The atmosphere at our last home game was brilliant. It really spurred the lads on and I’d ask all supporters to get behind us again and hopefully we can get a positive result on the night’’.

In team news, Bit O’ Red ‘keeper Edward McGinty should return from injury. Shane Blaney and David Cawley will return but Max Mata is expected to miss out having hobbled off on Monday. Jordan Hamilton and Nando Pijnaker are also doubts.

The game kicks off at 7.45pm and turnstiles open from 6.30pm.

Preview: WNL: Bit O’ Red face DLR Waves on Saturday

The Bit O’ Red travel to Dublin tomorrow to take on DLR Waves at The UCD Bowl at 4pm.

The game sees the sides meet for the second time this season after DLR defeated Rovers back in March in our first ever WNL game at The Showgrounds.

Last weekend, Steve Feeney’s side put on yet another spirited display against Galway but fell just short, losing 2-1 after Emma Doherty’s third goal of the season had given us a 1-0 lead but two goals from the visitors, one on the stroke of half time and one with twenty minutes remaining gave them the points.

DLR will prove yet another tough test for Rovers and they are currently in fifth position in the league table with Rovers back in eight.

Manager Steve Feeney:

‘’This weekend we travel to DLR Waves in what will be another welcome test for us all. Manager Graham Kelly has done wonderful work over the last few seasons and as a result DLR have a very strong squad who have already shown this season they are ready to challenge the top sides in the league.

We have now played every team in the league once and while we have no doubt there’s a high standard of players and teams in the league, we are looking forward to the challenge each game brings knowing we have the potential to improve and push our own levels as a team and individuals.

Every loss is tough to take but last weeks was made a lot worse with the injury sustained by Kristen Sample, Kristen has brought so much to our group since her arrival both on and off the pitch and we are all right behind her as she starts her recovery and have no doubt, we will see her back in action when the time is right’’.

In team news, goalkeeper Kristen Sample faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines following an arm injury sustained in last weekend’s game with Galway. Emma Hansberry continues to recover from a muscle injury and this game may come too soon for her.

The game is live on LOI TV from 4pm.

2022 Summer Camps

Bookings for our 2022 Summer Camps which are sponsored by The Sligo Champion, are now open.

With high demand expected, we would encourage booking as early as possible via the links below.

Each camp runs Monday-Friday, from 10.30am until 3pm daily.

Enquiries: Shane@sligorovers.com


1 Child: https://srfcdirect.com/sligo-rovers-camp-1-child-summer-2022/

2 Children: https://srfcdirect.com/sligo-rovers-camp-2-children-from-1-family-summer-2022/

3 Children: https://srfcdirect.com/sligo-rovers-camp-3-children-from-1-family-summer-2022/