Owen Heary holds status as one of most successful League of Ireland players of all-time, however the seven time league champion now has his sights set on making it big in the management game with Sligo Rovers backing him big in the off-season.
The decision to leave Dalymount Park couldn’t have been an easy one for the Bohemians legend, but the lure of challenging for European football and silverware at the Showgrounds was too much to turn down for Heary.
Sligo Rovers business in the transfer market may well be some of the most exciting in the league with former Chelsea striker Morten Nielsen joining the league for the first time while winger Sander Puri is an international player with Estonia and faced Ireland in the 2012 European Championship play-offs.
Adding to the goals threat of this dynamic looking Sligo side is Bohemians top scorer for 2014, Dinny Corcoran while team-mates Steven Beattie and Eoin Wearen will create a glut of chances from wide positions.
Also joining the Dalymount exodus in favour of the Bit O’Red is Kevin Devaney who will add some steel to the core of Heary’s team. The fact we are yet to mention Keith Ward, Ryan Coulter and Stephen Folan who have all joined the Rovers ranks, really does show the star-studded quality the club have gone out of their way to capture in the off-season.
There were of course losses of on field assets in the likes of Gary Rogers, Seamus Conneely and Danny North in particular but looking at the players brought in you have to feel this is a more balance Sligo Rovers squad than seen under the reigns of John Coleman and Gavin Dykes.
Sligo Rovers finished a massive 19 points behind Shamrock Rovers in fourth place last season and despite a Setanta Sports Cup success, Ian Baraclough will be disappointed to have lost his job with what were extremely below par performances.
Any chance of a European finish were long gone by the time Coleman and then Dykes took the hot-seat but followers of the Bit O’Red will be hoping that 19 point gap is greatly reduced this season.
With most pundits predicting a repeat finish for both Rovers clubs, the question is has their been enough changes in the quality of both sides to see a 19 point turn around?
The answer to that in short is, while there is undoubtedly ten fold more quality and balance in this Sligo squad compared to that of last seasons, some of the signings seen in Tallaght have been just as impressive and they look to be a team chasing a title as opposed to thinking about a top four finish.
Should the team playing out of the ”Showgies” avoid any long runs of poor form and put together some serious winning sequences then they should face little competition for fifth place but whether this team is just too early in its development to gate crash the top four we will have to wait and see.
Predicted finish: 5th
Player to watch: Morten Nielsen
Greatest strength: Goals and exciting attacking players all across the front six.
Greatest weakness: Inexperienced manager.