Cooke steeling himself for Brennan Sheffield switch
DROGHEDA United star Ryan Brennan is currently training with English Championship team Sheffield Wednesday and last season's captain Paul Crowley is being released by the club, the Drogheda Independent can reveal.
The news comes after a whirlwind few days around Hunky Dorys Park, with four brand-new signings, six more of last season's squad rejoining for 2013 and several other players set to be released.
The latest newcomers, confirmed on Monday night, are striker Graham Rusk and midfielder Paul O'Conor, both from UCD, and Shelbourne's David Cassidy, with the signature of much-travelled experienced forward Gary O'Neill having been secured over the weekend.
And Alan McNally and Alan Byrne have become the latest members of the 2012 squad to pledge their future to the Drogs, following on from last season's top scorer Declan O'Brien, Cathal Brady and goalkeepers Gabriel Sava and Michael Schlingermann who signed over the past few days.
Manager Mick Cooke confirmed yesterday (Tuesday) that Crowley wasn't being offered a new contract and he was due to have talks at lunchtime with Sean Brennan, Tiarnan Mulvenna, Johnny Breen, Jason Marks and Shane Finegan about their futures.
Asked about Ryan Brennan yesterday, Cooke explained: 'Ryan is away with Sheffield Wednesday for three or four days, training with them and having a look around.
'I've already had calls from several clubs about him and Gavin Brennan and Eric Foley, but I was at an Under-16 international last week and bumped into the head of recruitment at Sheffield Wednesday.
'He was quite keen to take Ryan over. Paul Corry [the former UCD player] has hit the ground running there and they think he could go in the window to a bigger club, so they can see that there are players in the League of Ireland who can hold their own in that division.'
Cooke was delighted with his new signings, which have brought the size of next year's squad up to 18 and paved the way for several more of the 2012 panel to be released. The manager is expected to end up with a squad of 22 players.
'Paul O'Conor and Graham Rusk are very exciting players. Paul took over the mantle when Corry went to Sheffield and had been overshadowed by him, and a lot of clubs were after him, but he wants the opportunity to play in Europe and the Setanta Cup. He will complement David Cassidy who I have always admired.
'Rusk is a young, exciting boy who scored eight goals in his first 11 games last season before getting injured, and like all the players I've signed he is very, very fit.
'And I've always like Gary O'Neill. Even centre-halves say he is one player nobody likes to mark. He has a low centre of gravity and brings other players into the game.
'I had a final think-tank with [assistant manager] Robbie Horgan on Monday night when we decided which players to keep, and all I can do is do what I feel is right for the club.
'Paul Crowley is a very experienced player and a very good professional, but it's a choice I've made to bring in O'Conor and Cassidy and I think it will give us a better balance.
'The intention is to have a stronger squad than this year, but myself and Robbie are having to deal very prudently to work out who we can bring in who suits our system and buys into what we want them to do.'