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We must hold on to title heroes: Peers

AFTER the celebrations come the negotiations. And Sligo Rovers veteran Gavin Peers has appealed to the board at the newly crowned champions of Ireland to move quickly on signing up the squad for next season.

Training and preparations for their next league game, away to Drogheda United on Friday, may be a bit behind schedule this week, as Sligo players and fans bask in the glory of the fact that they are league champions for the first time in 35 years.

Only a handful of Sligo players are signed up on long-term contracts and Peers, who has 12 months left on his deal, is one of the few who are guaranteed to be at the Showgrounds next season.

After such a successful season Sligo's players will be in demand with claims already that Premier Division rivals like Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick's Athletic could try and tempt Dubliners like Jason McGuinness and Mark Quigley back to the capital, while Quigley has already stated that he has been tracked by MLS side FC Dallas.

Having seen Benin international Romauld Boco leave Sligo as their title push was peaking to accept a contract in League Two with Paul Cook's Accrington Stanley, Sligo cannot take it for granted that players will stay.

"We need to build on this now because the worst thing for Sligo Rovers would be for this team to break up," Peers told the Herald.

"So it's up to the manager and the board to sign up the squad for next season and keep the core of the team here.

"I'd like to think that we'd be able to attract players here and not lose them. What player in the league wouldn't want to play in the Champions League next season?

"Anyone who saw our game on Saturday, a full house of 5,000 fans and a winning team, would want to be part of that. I know the club worked hard to put in extra terracing for the Pat's game at the weekend and that brought the capacity up to 5,000. If we had 5,000 fans paying in for every game just think of the revenue that would bring in and how it could help the club progress.

"I would hate to see players leave here over the close season. We have had a good season as players and there are bound to be offers for the players. We only have a couple signed up, like myself and Danny North.

"It would be great to have Mark Quigley, Jason McGuinness, Danny Ventre, Alan Keane, Iarfhlaith Davoren and all the rest signed up as well," added the Dubliner.

"As we are champions everyone else will be gunning for us next year. Rovers are going to want their title back and others will challenge as well so we need a big squad."

Peers is Sligo's longest-serving player, having joined from Mansfield Town in 2005, and he's settled at the club. "I may as well be a Sligo man now as I am here so long," he says.

"I am here seven years and it's great to just get across the finishing line. We have gone close in the last few years; we finished second last year and third the year before so it's great to finish first after all this time."

He also maintained that Sligo, despite the controversial manner of Saturday's win over St Pat's -- secured by a debatable penalty -- were deserving winners.

"We are deserved champions, we were the best side in the league this season," he said. "We have been top of the table for most of the season.

"Clubs like Pat's and Drogheda tried to close the gap and to be fair to Pat's they put up a real challenge. But I think we showed all through the season, and again in the Pat's game on Saturday, that we can get results when needed."