2021 Season Preview: Sligo Roversby Rónán MacNamara
Manager: Liam Buckley
Stadium: The Showgrounds
Players in: Robbie McCourt (Waterford), Greg Bolger (Shamrock Rovers), Shane Blaney (Doncaster Rovers), Jordan Gibson (St Patrick's Athletic), Walter Figueira (Derry City), Richard Brush (Cliftonville), Colm Horgan (Derry City).
Kyle Callan-McFadden (Kings Lynn Town), Will Seymore (Finn Harps), Ronan Coughlan (St Patrick's Athletic), Luke McNicholas (Finn Harps - loan), Junior Ogedi Uzokwe (Dundalk), Ronan Murray (Drogheda United).
Extratime.ie key man: Niall Morahan
Sligo’s 2020 player of the year last will be key this season. He played 17 out of 18 games for them last season in the shortened league campaign as the Bit O’Red recovered from a poor start to finish 4th and ultimately qualify for Europe.
The 20-year-old midfielder, who can also operate at right back, is entering his fourth season as a senior player with the club and his development has been impressive, becoming a regular over the last two seasons.
Having signed a new contract to remain at The Showgrounds last October, Morahan will look to keep improving as the league returns to a full 36 game season.
Extratime.ie one to watch: Johnny Kenny
The 17-year-old signed his first professional contract with the Bit O’Red, penning a deal for the 2021 and 2022 seasons.
The forward scored 17 goals in eight games in the SSE Airtricity Under-17 League last season.
The son of Sligo Rovers great Johnny Kenny, has burst onto the scene in pre-season scoring five goals.
Even at the tender age of 17 it wouldn’t be surprising to see Kenny make a breakthrough this year given Rovers’ success of bringing through young players.
How they did last season:
Sligo opened last season’s campaign with four consecutive defeats, but recovered to finish in fourth spot with a 2-0 win away to Dundalk on the final day.
The Showgrounds outfit would kickstart their season with back to back wins over Derry City and Shelbourne as part of a run of five wins in seven games to catapult them up the table.
Liam Buckley’s side qualified for Europe as a result of both Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers reaching the FAI Cup final.
The Bit O’Red completed the league double over Dundalk last season, and finished just a point behind the Lilywhites.
The five time FAI Cup winners were knocked out at the semi-final stage by Premier Division champions Shamrock Rovers last season. A first half brace from Aaron McEneff dashed Sligo’s hopes of bringing silverware back to the West.
What to expect this season
It is hard to see where the goals are going to come from for Sligo this season, they only scored 19 in 18 games last season although they have bolstered their attack with the signing of Walter Figueria and the return of Romeo Parkes.
The top three might be just out of their reach which means there could be a dog fight to finish fourth between themselves and St Patrick’s Athletic. Qualifying for Europe is an achievable goal once again.
The Bit O’Red will also be participating in the inaugural UEFA Conference League this season.
Europe’s third tier competition is an unknown quantity at the moment but given the potential lack of big hitters there is an opportunity for Sligo to advance through the qualifying rounds and into the group stage.
Sligo have been knocking on the door of the FAI Cup, reaching back to back semi-finals and being knocked out by both eventual League Champions, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers.
While a title challenge is beyond them they could have a run at domestic cup silverware this season.
Title Odds: 18/1
First Game: Dundalk (home)