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Doncaster's delight at snapping up 'the best player in the League of Ireland'

Doncaster Rovers boss Grant McCann has been keeping a close eye on Kieran Sadlier.

Kieran Sadlier in possession for Cork City during last month's FAI Cup final defeat to Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium.
Kieran Sadlier in possession for Cork City during last month's FAI Cup final defeat to Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

DONCASTER ROVERS’ DECISION to sign Kieran Sadlier was “a no-brainer”, according to manager Grant McCann.

Having been in the League of Ireland since January 2016, Sadlier has returned to England after joining Doncaster on an 18-month deal following the expiration of his contract with Cork City.

The 24-year-old attacker moved to City from Sligo Rovers in July 2017. He thrived when given the opportunity with the Leesiders this year, scoring 24 goals in all competitions. 

“He’s been the best player in [the League of] Ireland for the last two and a half years,” McCann told the Doncaster Free Press. “He scored 49 goals in that spell, lots of assists, team of the year, winning trophies. He was a no-brainer signing for us.”

McCann previously worked with Sadlier during his time as assistant manager at Peterborough United, with whom the ex-Ireland U21 international had a brief spell in 2015. The manager of Doncaster — who are currently in sixth place in League One — believes Sadlier has improved significantly since then. 

McCann said: “I’m excited about it really. He’s a great kid. I’ve tracked him for the last year, definitely since I’ve come to Doncaster. We’ve watched him three or four times. Myself and Cliff [Byrne, assistant] went out to watch him.

“I know of him anyway because he was at Peterborough for a year. But while he was at Peterborough he was a young boy who had just come out of West Ham and it was probably a step too soon for him in League One. He’s done it the hard way. He went on loan to Halifax, then he got a move to Sligo and he’s just excelled in Ireland.”

He added: “He’s an attacking player. He takes people on, very good at dead balls, free kicks, penalties, corners. He shoots with both feet. There’s obviously areas of his game we feel we can improve but we keep that to ourselves. We’ll help him on that.

“But in terms of the long progression of the football club, the next year and the year after that, he’s an ideal signing for us.” 

Sadlier will be available to make his debut for Doncaster on New Year’s Day, when he could come up against former Cork City team-mates Ryan Delaney and Stephen Dooley as Doncaster host Rochdale.

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Paul Dollery

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