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Dublin: 10°C Monday 10 May 2021

Shamrock Rovers announce signing of highly-rated UCD winger Neil Farrugia

The Hoops have also added the Students’ Gary O’Neill.

SHAMROCK ROVERS HAVE significantly strengthened their squad ahead of the title run-in and Europa League qualifiers with the signings of Neil Farrugia and Gary O’Neill from UCD. 

unnamed Neil Farrugia is announced as a Shamrock Rovers player. Source: George Kelly

Farrugia has been a regular in Stephen Kenny’s Irish U21 squad this year, and only a hamstring injury kept him out of this month’s Toulon tournament.

He is eligible to play for France, Spain or Malta but has declared thus far for Ireland and scored in the U21 European qualifier against Luxembourg in March. 

Having joined UCD from Belvedere in 2015, Farrugia made his debut against Cabinteely in the First Division in 2017 and has scored twice in 34 games since.

Touted for a move to England, Farrugia moves to Rovers keen to complete the final year of his degree at UCD. 

Midfielder O’Neill, meanwhile, joins having been with UCD since 2015.

Prior to moving back to Ireland, he had been at Wolves before bouncing around lower English leagues with Port Vale, Hereford United and Southport. He adds to Rovers’ wealth of midfield options, which include Aaron McEneff, Greg Bolger, Dylan Watts, Jack Byrne, and Ronan Finn. 

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Rovers’ Head Coach Stephen Bradley told the club’s website that he expects both players to add to his team’s goal threat.

“We’ve been speaking to Gary for quite some time and we’re delighted to get him in. He fits how we play, he’s a good age and he has some really good attributes. We believe that we can improve him and we’re looking forward to seeing him playing for the club.

I said from day one that we have goals from all over the pitch in this team and Neil and Gary will just add to that. They’ve shown that they can create and score goals and I’m sure they’ll bring that to us. Both of them, once we sat down with them and gave them our plan of where we see them here, they were very keen to get it done. It was great that both were very interested and wanted to get it done quickly and thankfully we did.

“Neil is very athletic, quick and direct. He’s different to what we have currently in the squad and a player we’ve liked for quite some time. We’ve known about other interest in him but we’re delighted that he sees his football at Shamrock Rovers.

“He’s only young, he’s done well so far and there’s still so much more to come from him. Hopefully we can see that here at this club.”

Neil Farrugia (L) Stephen Bradley (C) Gary O'Neill (R)  signing June 2019 Stephen Bradley with Farrugia (left) and O'Neill (right). Source: George Kelly

Farrugia is still recovering from a hamstring injury, while O’Neill is ineligible to face Dundalk on Friday night, but will be available for the game against Sligo Rovers a week later. 

Rovers face the champions at Tallaght on Friday, whom they trail by five points. They face Norwegian side SK Brann in the second round of the Europa League qualifiers next month, with the first leg away from home on 11 July. The return leg is at Tallaght a week later. 

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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