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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 20 November, 2018
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No regrets? Former Barnsley defender Robbie Williams joins Cork City

The Englishman had been one of Limerick’s top performers during the first half of the season.

Robbie Williams challenges for a header with Sean Maguire during Limerick's 4-1 defeat to Cork City last month.
Robbie Williams challenges for a header with Sean Maguire during Limerick's 4-1 defeat to Cork City last month.
Image: James Crombie/INPHO

CORK CITY HAVE announced the signing of Robbie Williams after Limerick confirmed his departure today following nearly five years on Shannonside.

According to a brief statement released by the Blues on Twitter, the English defender departed the Markets Field by mutual consent.

Williams, along with Shaun Kelly and Paul O’Conor, was one of three players placed on the transfer list by Limerick on Wednesday.

However, Williams has now been permitted to walk away for free, with Cork City his next destination. He has signed a deal with the Premier Division leaders until the end of the season.

The 32-year-old former Barnsley defender had been a mainstay at the back for Limerick since he joined the club for the 2013 season following a spell with Plymouth Argyle.

Despite being nominated for the SWAI/SSE Airtricity player of the month award for April, Williams was told that he doesn’t have a future at Limerick by Neil McDonald, who took over as manager of the Premier Division club in May.

With Alan Bennett struggling for fitness and Johnny Dunleavy ruled out for the rest of the season, Cork City have been in need of extra options at the heart of their defence, where midfielder Conor McCormack has filled in alongside Ryan Delaney recently.

“We are very happy to bring in a player of Robbie’s experience and ability,” said Cork City manager John Caulfeld. “He has been a major player for Limerick over the last number of years and he offers tremendous cover across the back four, given he can play at full-back and in the centre of defence.

“Kevin O’Connor has obviously gone to Preston, and we have also lost Johnny Dunleavy to injury. Added to that, you also have Sean O’Mahony and Sean McLoughlin travelling to the World Student Games in August, so to bring in a player who knows the league inside out and has played so regularly is great for us. Robbie will also share his vast experience and knowledge of the game with our younger players.”

Williams was part of the first-team squad at Barnsley for over five seasons after coming through the club’s youth ranks. He went on to join Blackpool and scored in a 2-0 win against Yeovil Town in the 2007 League One play-off final which saw the club promoted to the Championship.

After spells with Huddersfield Town, Rochdale, Stockport County and Plymouth, he moved to Ireland in 2013 after being signed by Stuart Taylor at Limerick.

Soccer - Coca-Cola Championship - Barnsley v Sheffield Wednesday - Oakwell Williams playing for Barnsley against Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship in December 2006. Source: EMPICS Sport

“I am delighted to be here and hope to get cracking straight away,” Williams said. “It was a no brainer when I spoke to John and he showed the interest in bringing me in. Cork City have been flying this season and it will be tough to break in, but I am here for three months and I will give it my best shot.

“Turner’s Cross has been full because the team has been doing so well and, every time I have played down here, the atmosphere has been great, probably the best in the country, so I am looking forward to it and can’t wait to get started.”

Meanwhile, Sligo Rovers have announced the signing of 20-year-old former Port Vale winger Omar Haughton until the end of the season.

– Updated at 3.15pm

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Paul Dollery

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