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Sligo Rovers sign 'top-class' former Ireland U21 striker from Scottish side

Aidan Keena is on board for 2022 after making the move home from Falkirk.

New man in: Aidan Keena.
New man in: Aidan Keena.
Image: Sligo Rovers.

SLIGO ROVERS HAVE announced the signing of former Republic of Ireland U21 striker Aidan Keena from Falkirk for the 2022 season.

The 22-year-old joins from the Scottish side on a free transfer and becomes the Bit O’Red’s fourth new signing.

Keena began at his career at St Patrick’s Athletic as a teenager, and his impressive form there earned him a move to Hearts in the Scottish Premiership. Across the water, the Mullingar man also spent loan spells with Queen’s Park, Dunfermline Athletic and Hartlepool.

Having hit five goals in half-a-season at Falkirk — and over 25 in total in his senior career thus far — Keena now heads to the Showgrounds, relishing the challenge ahead and vowing to deliver.

“I’m very happy to be here and that the deal is done,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to being out on the pitch now.

“When the interest came I had worked with Liam Buckley before at St Patrick’s Athletic and I saw it as a good opportunity to come back to a good league and a good club. Most of the lads I played with at Under-19 level before I left are playing in the league now so that’s good to come back and see that.

I’m here to score goals, that’s why the club brought me in so I’ll try to score as many as I can and play well and try to get as high up in the table as we can.

“The lads are in pre-season but I like to think I’m fit enough now. I’m halfway through the season. I will look to hit the ground running. I did have a couple of other options in Ireland but they didn’t have European football with them. That was a difference.

“The other factor was I know how Liam Buckley sets up and plays football from working under him before. I like to think I’m good with the ball myself and so I’m looking forward to getting involved with that and linking the play. I can come short, run behind the defence, I don’t really mind and it depends how the team sets up. As long as I’m getting service in the box I’m hopeful I’ll do well.”

“It’s third and fourth in the league the last two seasons so you don’t look down,” Keena added, hoping to help Sligo continue their back-to-back top-four finishes.

“You want to stay up there and go higher and try to challenge for it. We’re not far off it. I think a lot of clubs will be looking to have a go at it this season. I want to score goals, the more I can score the better the team will do. If I can do that the team will be up there.”

aidan-keena-tackles-dylan-connolly Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

Manager Liam Buckley noted on his newest ‘top-class player’: “Aidan will bring a lot to the group. As well as an ability to score goals, he is an extremely hard worker and a good presence.

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“He’s a smashing guy and comes to us at a very good time for both parties. He has been on short-term loans which are never easy and shown he can score and do well for a team. Defenders will find it difficult against him and we’ll give him the platform to show what he’s about.

Since he left St Pat’s I watched his progress and he feels it’s a good time to come to Ireland and play. I’m delighted to bring him here.

“Aidan has been playing matches in Scotland as they are mid-season, he scored in back-to-back games over Christmas so we’ll do our best to make sure he settles in well and he’ll be available to us in the upcoming friendly matches.”

“Squads evolve over time and we will bring in more quality players to the club. I look at our group and I could reel off the top-class players we have here. Aidan joins that list now and we’re not finished in who we are bringing in. When we complete that it will leave us competitive, I feel.”

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