By Gerard Mulreaney
It’s been an extremely busy 48 hours in Irish football, as we said good riddance to 2020 and rang in what will hopefully be a much brighter 2021.
New Year’s Eve saw former Irish Women’s National team manager Noel King succeed Dave Bell at the helm of last season’s Women’s National League runners up Shelbourne. The club hope his appointment will bring about a change of luck, as the reds hope to claim a title they’ve come so close to winning over the past couple of years.
Athlone Town continued their phenomenal off-season with the capture of the well-travelled striker Kurtis Byrne. Byrne 30, has had a very successful career to date, winning the Premier Division twice, including a league and cup double with Dundalk in 2015, a Scottish League One and Championship title along with a Welsh Premier League title in 2019.
His signing, along with the likes of Adam Wixted, Killian Cantwell, Jack Watson, James Doona, Stephen Meaney and Michael Schlingermann will ensure that Adrian Carberry’s side will be hugely competitive in the First Division next season.
On New Years Day Shamrock Rovers supporters got the news they’ve been dreading since they won the title, as International midfielder Jack Byrne finally revealed he’s leaving the club, with a destination in Cyprus looming large.
Byrne is set to link up with his former International boss Mick McCarthy at APOEL Nicosia. McCarthy knows exactly what he’s getting in Byrne, a player who can dictate the pace of a game, and can slide a pass through the eye of a needle for a quality striker, whilst also chipping in with his own share of goals.
Byrne wrote a heartfelt message on Instagram, where he gave massive praise to the Shamrock Rovers coaching staff and players, saying that they were incredible people, incredible developers of players, and that the management team were as good as all the great people he worked under during his time at Manchester City. High praise indeed!
One of the league’s greatest sons, Raffaele Cretaro retired from football after 20 years. He played most of his career with Sligo Rovers, and also had stints at Galway United, Bohemians and most recently at Finn Harps where he helped Olllie Horgan’s side to retain their Premier Division status for 2021.
He tweeted “Don’t cry because it’s over smile because it happened, football owes me nothing i owe it everything. A simple Go raibh maith agat.”
In the Women’s National League Treaty United surprised many with the news that both Senior manager David Rooney and Under 17 manager Irene Hehir are stepping away from the club.
Rooney has been at the club since 2018, in their previous guise as Limerick FC, and guided the club into two 7th place finishes and an 8th place finish in 2020.
Following the news that Grovemoor Ltd failed to reach an aggregate on a deal with the Munster FA for the lease of Turner’s Cross, Preston owner Trevor Hemmings has confirmed that he will assist the club in trying to secure a license to participate in the League of Ireland for 2021.
The club then went ahead and appointed Colin Healy as manager three days after Christmas, and he’s been extremely busy over the holiday season as he’s added 12 players to the squad ahead of their upcoming First Division campaign.
He’s brought back club captain Gearoid Morrissey, Beneóin O’Brien Whitmarsh, Cian Coleman, Dale Holland, Ronan Hurley, Rob Slevin, David Harrington, Josh Honahan, Cian Bargary, Darragh Crowley and Alec Byrne.
Elsewhere, Wexford confirmed that attacking midfielder Jack Doherty will return to Ferrycarrig Park for 2021.
Picture Credit: Cork City FC