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Sunday 29 January 2023 Dublin: 5°C
# a pair of kiwis
Sligo Rovers and Shelbourne sign New Zealanders ahead of opening league matches
21-year-old striker Max Mata joins the Bit O’Red, while Damien Duff has added 29-year-old defender Adam Thomas to his squad.

SLIGO ROVERS HAVE brought in New Zealand international Max Mata ahead of the 2022 campaign. 

The 21-year-old striker joins from Real Monarchs in the US — the reserve team of MLS side Real Salt Lake — having previously spent time with Grasshopper in Switzerland and Estonian outfit Nomme Kalju. 

He lined out against Celtic in the Europa League qualifiers and scored nine goals in 11 league starts for Kalju. 

“I’m very happy to join Sligo Rovers,” said Mata. “When the chance came up I didn’t have to think long about it. I want to play games and I want to score goals and Ireland was very appealing. I’ve played in Europe before and done well and I definitely think I can do it again.

“I enjoyed the experience in America last season, with a regret of not playing as much as I would have liked. I’m very motivated to come to Sligo, play games and score goals.

I don’t think integration will be a problem being an English-speaking country. I’m excited to experience the League of Ireland and play here.

“It’s just a matter of being focused and I’ll be totally committed to succeeding here.

“Sligo Rovers have been doing well in Ireland, I’ve spoken with the coach about what he wants the team to be and it all added up to me wanting to be in Sligo and achieving both my own targets and those of the team.”

Meanwhile, Shelbourne have also announced the signing of a New Zealander, in the shape of defender Adam Thomas. 

The 29-year-old has been training with Damien Duff’s side during the off-season. 

DSC_9056 Eoin Smith Adam Thomas (right) training with Shels. Eoin Smith

Thomas most recently played at Oakleigh Cannons in Australia, and was at Team Wellington in his homeland before that. 

He lined out for New Zealand at the 2012 Olympics and is also capped at underage level. 

“Adam has shown amazing desire to come to Europe off his own back to pursue a career here,” Duff said. “He has trained really well with us and has settled brilliantly with the squad. He has a lot of quality and has the versatility to play many positions. He is a great addition to the group”

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Thomas added: “Training has been class with the standards really high along with the intensity and focus on position which I have really enjoyed. I’ve talked to a couple of people I know in the league and I’m looking forward to the new challenge.

“It’s a huge opportunity for myself to be coached by Damien Duff and from a defender’s point of view with Joey O’Brien, who is top class. It’s very exciting.”

The SSE Airtricity League Premier Division kicks off this Friday night, with Sligo hosting Bohemians and Shels at home to St Patrick’s Athletic. 

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