Ryan Byrne/INPHO Akinade facing Shamrock Rovers in the red and black of Bohs.
Double Swoop

Sign of intent from newly-promoted Waterford as Bohs striker Akinade and French midfielder arrive

The Blues will make a long-awaited return to the top flight as First Division champions next season.

FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONS Waterford have added two players with Premier Division experience ahead of their return to the top flight.

Backed by owner Lee Power, the Blues stormed to the title last season under manager Alan Reynolds, with Pat Fenlon on board as director of football.

Today, it has been announced that Ismahil Akinade and Bastien Hery are joining the Blues for 2018.

Nigerian-born striker Akinade makes the switch after two-and-a-half seasons with Bohemians, but Bray Wanderers is where the 23-year-old began his League of Ireland career.

French midfielder Hery, meanwhile, was with Limerick last term — having arrived in the SSE Airtricity League after a spell in English football with the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Rochdale, Carlisle United and Accrington Stanley.

“I signed for Waterford because I see that the club is going places and it has high ambitions,” said Akinade. “The move to full-time football was a big factor also in my decision to make the move.

“I enjoyed every second at Bohs. It was hard for me to leave as I felt like I developed a strong bond with the fans over the past three years and the staff and players were great. It was like a family there and hopefully at Waterford, I can make that same connection in the dressing room and with the supporters.

My hope for next season is to start strongly and see where we end up. It is going to be a difficult season as it is down to a ten team league so every point will be important, whether at the top of the table or at the bottom.”

25-year-old Hery added: “I am very pleased to have signed for Waterford, a club with plenty of history and success in the past; a club that is on the up again now.

“I met with director of football Pat Fenlon and visited the city and the facilities available to the club and I was really impressed with what I saw. For my family and me, to sign with Waterford was the best option.

“First and foremost my ambition is to play football and give my best for the team and the club. I came to Ireland to push on and play European football so ultimately that is my hope by the end of this season, to push Waterford FC onto the next level.

“Playing and enjoying my football is the best thing in life to be honest.”

Bastien Hery Ryan Byrne / INPHO Hery in action for Limerick last season. Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Waterford are still building and will look to add to their squad of 12 in the coming weeks.

“We are delighted to be able to attract players of the quality of Bastien and Izzy to Waterford FC,” Reynolds said. “Off the field we are working hard to put together a competitive squad for 2018 and we are certain that both these players will be great additions.

“Bastien emerged in 2017 as a top talent at Limerick. We watched him closely in a number of games towards the end of the campaign for Limerick and he was pivotal in the middle of the park to their good form late on, ultimately helping them steer clear of the bottom three to an impressive 7th placed finish.

“With Sean Maguire now gone from League of Ireland football, Ismahil is arguably the top striking talent in the country and we are delighted to have him on board for 2018. He has shown a great willingness to work hard on and off the field to develop his game and character and we are very impressed with the player we have managed to sign.”

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