Fingal duo on trial at Wolves
WILLIAMS AND FINN OUT TO IMPRESS
SPORTING Fingal's star midfielders Shaun Williams and Ronan Finn are currently having trials with Mick McCarthy's Wolves – after spending the whole of last week trying to impress Neil Lennon at Glasgow giants Celtic.
The pair, both Under-23 internationals, are still under contract with Sporting but are looking to move up to the next level and both Lennon and McCarthy are keen to strengthen their already sizeable Irish contingents.
Sporting Fingal manager Liam Buckley is anxiously awaiting feedback from across the water as he continues the build-up to the new League of Ireland campaign, with preseason training kicking off next Monday.
'We were asked a few months back about the pair of them [ Williams and Finn] and at the time it wasn't suitable for us to let them go with chasing Europe and everything,' Buckley recalled yesterday (Monday).
'But Celtic came in again a few weeks ago, we spoke to the players and they said they'd prefer to give it a go.
'At the moment I'm waiting to hear what Neil Lennon has to say, and the pair of them are in Wolves this week until Thursday.'
Buckley said he currently has 10 players under contract for the 2011 season – Brendan Clarke, Darren Quigley, Shaun Maher, Ger O'Brien, Shane McFaul, Kevin Dawson, Conan Byrne, Gary O'Neill, Williams and Finn.
That's half the number he operated with last year, but the manager said he intends strengthening his squad in the coming days, with Alan Kirby among the players he intends to speak with.
Supporters will be particularly happy to hear that O'Neill is staying with the club, following interest from a number of clubs including league champions Shamrock Rovers.
'Gary was out of contract and could have gone to any other club, but he has agreed to stay and we're delighted,' said Buckley.
'I have renegotiated contracts with some of the players from last season and we're processing the budget at the moment. It's work in progress, and we have a budget like any club.
'Ask any manager and he'll say he wants more, but our first priority was to stabilise the club and that doesn't happen overnight.
'Gerry Gannon was fantastic for the project in terms of getting us to where we are. Now we've had to restructure and it's work in progress, and I have no doubt it will be next year and the year after.
'But we've moved on from the difficulty we had and I feel we can sign one or two players over the next couple of weeks.'
Asked whether he'd considered his own position at Sporting Fingal, given all the financial uncertainty in recent weeks, Buckley responded unequivocally: 'Never. It's a fantastic project to be involved in and it's been brilliant for the last few years.
'And I would ask all football people in Fingal to come and support us and make Sporting Fingal their team.
'It would be great if we could get more people coming to games and we could become the top team in north Dublin.'
A friendly away to Cork City has been tentatively pencilled in, with no date confirmed as yet, and there will also be a couple of training matches ahead of the club's first competitive fixture of 2011 – against Lisburn Distillery in the Setanta Sports Cup on Monday February 14th at Dalymount Park.
Sporting's first league match of the season is also at home, against UCD, on Friday March 4th.