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Finn was unveiled at Tallaght Stadium today.
Finn was unveiled at Tallaght Stadium today.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

'Stephen Kenny probably wasn't happy about it but he had to respect my decision'

Ronan Finn talks about telling the Dundalk boss he was leaving, his Rovers return and captaining the Hoops next season.
Dec 20th 2016, 4:59 PM 20,815 17

RONAN FINN HAS admitted that returning to Shamrock Rovers for a second spell was too good an opportunity to pass up.

The Dubliner, who has been one of the top midfielders in Irish football for some time, was officially unveiled by the Hoops this afternoon after agreeing a three-year deal.

Former UCD and Sporting Fingal man Finn left Rovers in 2014 to link up once again with Stephen Kenny at Dundalk.

He would become a key player for the Lilywhites — winning two SSE Airtricity League Premier Division titles and the FAI Cup while also featuring prominently during their campaign to the Europa League group stages.

However, on the eve of his 29th birthday, Shamrock Rovers’ new club captain explained how he is excited by the prospect of working under head coach Stephen Bradley and director of football Stephen McPhail.

“It was a tough decision but it’s something I took my time with and I just know that the potential is here,” Finn said today. “With the signings that are being made and speaking to Stephen Bradley, I think it is going to take off.

“You try to get on board things at the right time in your career and if I had let this opportunity pass I would have regretted it. These opportunities don’t always come along and it’s a great contract.

“You could be part of something really special and the potential is here to do it. Coming in as club captain is a bonus and another incentive to make sure that it happens.”

Before Finn’s departure, Dundalk had already lost Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan to Preston North End as well as Darren Meenan to the Hoops, while there are rumours that full-back Sean Gannon could be set for a move to England.

Kenny will no doubt be upset that another regular in his title-winning team has left, but Finn hopes he understands the decision.

“I’ve an unbelievable respect for Stephen and he’s a person that I hope to still have a relationship with in 20 years’ time because he is an incredible man,” he added.

It was tough but in life everybody makes decisions to suit themselves at the end of the day. I had to be honest with myself and I explained that to Stephen. He probably wasn’t happy about it even when I broke it down for him but he had to respect my decision.

“That’s the type of man he is and the next time I see him I’ll shake his hand. I would never want to leave any club with bad blood as I try to respectful in everything I do and keep good relationships.

“But I just had to say ‘listen, I’m moving on and signing for a club that is massive’. I’m leaving a club that has had great success but I feel this is really going to kick off.”

Ronan Finn Finn during his first spell with Shamrock Rovers. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He continued: ”It was a great two years at Dundalk, but previous to that we had success at Shamrock Rovers.

“I know from being here before that it’s a massive club and the potential is huge. If you’re asking people from outside Ireland, they will know Shamrock Rovers.

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“Over the last couple of years they have put a lot into their youth system and built an unbelievable academy here. The first team has maybe taken a hit while they really got their house in order.

“Now they’re at a stage where we can challenge. You build and build and it’s hard to persuade fans that it’s coming but now with Stephen McPhail, Stephen Bradley and (academy director) Shane Robinson, who are really good pros, I know they wouldn’t put their hands to something that didn’t have serious potential.

“Stephen McPhail is an unbelievable professional and I’ve worked with him at Shamrock Rovers before. As soon as he walked in the door, every player had the utmost respect for him.

“The people behind the scenes are going to make sure this club takes off again. They really wanted me here and managed to persuade me to trust them by saying this is going to be a massive few years and an exciting time for the club.”

Finn is now eager to get started with his former team-mate Bradley at the helm and believes he can be a leader for the younger players.

“I still maintain that I’ve played my best football under Stephen Kenny but now I have a manager with similar beliefs,” he says. “He wants to play football in the right way and get the ball down.

“I know the two Stephens and they wouldn’t play it any other way. I needed to know I was going into an environment that would suit me as a player.

I’m going to a stage of my career where I’m hitting my peak. I’m at an age where I should be playing the best football of my life and the last couple of years have been really good to me.

“Now I’m coming in with that bit more experience having played a lot of games in Europe and I feel I can help the younger lads progress as they are the future of the club.”

The UCD graduate, who earned a degree in Sports Management during his time in Belfield, also has one eye on life after playing and is set to start a new job lined up by the club to gain some experience.

While he wasn’t keen to give much away about it, Finn insisted that the work won’t clash with his commitments at Rovers.

“Without getting into too much detail, the job will allow me to never jeopardise training, the gym or any work with regard to the club but it is something that will make sure I have a bit of experience behind me when I step away from football.”

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