Former St Pat’s and Sligo Rovers midfielder Rhys McCabe leads Airdrieonians to Scottish second-tier

Rhys McCabe, previously of St Patrick’s Athletic and Sligo Rovers, has led Scottish League One side Airdrieonians to the Scottish Championship.

The former Saints midfielder, 30, is the youngest manager in the SPFL and was installed as the club’s player-manager 12 months ago.

And on Saturday he led his side to the second-tier with a dramatic penalty shootout win over Hamilton Academical to seal promotion.

McCabe’s side came into the second-leg following a 1-0 win in the first-leg – but they lost the second-leg 2-1, and that forced a penalty shootout.

But after a tense exchange of spot-kicks, Airdieonians came out on top after former Drogheda United and Longford Town defender Daniel O’Reilly missed his penalty.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” McCabe explained when speaking to BBC Alba. “When you see what it means to the supporters – it has been a hell of a long time.

“It’s great that we could give back to them and hopefully they can enjoy the celebrations.

“It has been a case of hard work since we came in. We’ve always been under the spotlight since coming in.

“A young manager in his first job so we have always felt like we had a point to prove.

“I’m just delighted for everyone in the club who has backed me and been patient.”

While plying his trade in the League of Ireland, McCabe spent 18-months with Sligo – in which he made over 40 appearances for the Bit O’Red.

He then joined St Patrick’s Athletic ahead of the 2019 campaign but left Richmond Park after a year with the club.

Further stints in Scotland with Brechin City and Queen of the South followed before he joined Airdrieonians in 2021 – ultimately becoming their player-manager in May 2022.