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One in, one out at Sligo as young midfielder joins on loan from English League One side

In a setback, however, 19-year-old Liam Kerrigan departs for UCD.

19-year-old Niall Watson joins from English League One side Accrington Stanley.
19-year-old Niall Watson joins from English League One side Accrington Stanley.

IT’S TRAFFIC BOTH ways at Sligo Rovers FC with Accrington Stanley midfielder Niall Watson joining on loan until the end of the season, while another promising youngster, Liam Kerrigan, heads for UCD.

Both aged 19, Watson makes the temporary switch — subject to international clearance — to the Bit O’Red from the English League One outfit after impressing in a friendly at the Showgrounds. 

He signed his first professional deal for Stanley last year after making his debut 18 months ago, and has featured throughout their pre-season friendlies this summer.

“It’s important to firm up the squad from our end,” Sligo boss Liam Buckley said in announcing the club’s new addition.

“Liam Kerrigan is moving on so we have to be mindful of that and replace him. Niall came on in the friendly game we had earlier in the month. He’s a young player looking to make an impact.

He is more likely to get game time here than in Accrington at this point and it suits us to take him in for the next few months. I spoke with John Coleman and it’s a good move for all parties.
“He has been involved with Accrington’s first-team and at a couple of non-league clubs. He can play in an attacking role on the left or right, so we’ll give him a chance in training to impress and force a way into the side.”

“When I was in Sligo for the friendly I could see what a good club it is so when the gaffer (John Coleman) mentioned their interest I was delighted,” Watson himself added.

“He told me more about them too so now I’m really excited. I had three loan spells last year and I’m ready to keep playing. There’s still a lot of games to be played in the season in Ireland.

It’s a great experience for me to move over and become part of a club like Sligo Rovers, I’m really up for it. I can play anywhere across a front three, I probably prefer the left side.

“Whatever the gaffer says I’ll be up for it. I’m looking forward to getting involved straight away.”

Kerrigan, 19, has completed his switch to UCD after graduating from the Rovers U17 set-up to the first team. There, he made 17 appearances for the seniors.

He becomes the second Sligo player to join the Students on a scholarship, following Jack Keaney’s recent departure.

Chris Shields with Liam Kerrigan Kerrigan facing Chris Shields in May. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“This has been a very difficult decision to make,” the Tubbercurry native said. “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t a Sligo Rovers fan and making my debut and signing my first professional contract last year was a dream come true.

“Thanks to Gerard Lyttle and Kevin Derry for giving me that opportunity,” Kerrigan added, thanking several other coaches and mentors he had — including Buckley — through the years.

“I’d also like to thank everyone behind the scenes at Sligo Rovers and all the fans for supporting me over the last two seasons.

“Best of luck to everyone at the club for the rest of the season.”

“Liam has decided to take up this offer,” Buckley added. “We wish him well. We don’t want to lose our young players and going forward the IT Sligo scholarship scheme will help with that.

“It’s disappointing but we wish Liam a great future and perhaps one day we will see him in a Sligo Rovers jersey again.”

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Emma Duffy

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