DROGHEDA United have boosted their ranks ahead of the new League of Ireland campaign with the addition of centre-half Keith Cowan and the re-signing of Mark Hughes.
Manager Kevin Doherty had made no secret of his desire to recruit a central defender after losing Joe Redmond to St Pat's and Daniel O’Reilly to Hamilton Academical during the close season, and 36-year-old Cowan will be very familiar to Drogheda fans after helping steer Finn Harps to victory over the Boynesiders in the promotion/relegation play-offs two seasons in a row.
In his second spell at Finn Park between 2010 and 2019 Cowan made 206 appearances for Harps, but in 2020 he moved to Glentoran in the Danske Bank Premiership, scoring on his debut against Institute, winning an Irish Cup medal and playing in the 2020/21 Europa League.
He then joined Dungannon Swifts in June last year where he has been a regular starter, most recently featuring against Warrenpoint on January 11th.
Hughes, who is currently in his second spell with the club and has made 66 appearances to date, has been training with Drogheda throughout the pre-season after missing a large portion of 2021 through injury.
Doherty said: “Keith came into my thoughts a few weeks ago. I did the homework on what he was doing. When he left Harps, he obviously went to Glentoran and was excellent there. He’s been at Dungannon since and he plays 90 minutes every week. It’s his experience, he’s a leader.
“He’s someone who has impressed me so much, obviously we had our battles with him over the years and he was always excellent.
“He’s a massive signing. He brings in that experience. I’ve watched nearly all of his games this season since he went to Dungannon. He played last week against Warrenpoint, I watched that game as well, so I’m delighted. He not only makes us physically stronger but also just in that position.
“From midfield forward, we’ve had a lot of options, so I needed to go for a defensive unit, and the likes of Keith and Sparky (Hughes) as well will answer that naturally.
“There certainly wasn’t a decision to be on Sparky as a player, but we just wanted to get him a good couple of weeks training first. He’s come through that with flying colours. He’s flying and back stronger than ever.
“I’m delighted he’s signed. He’s a massive player for us and he was so unfortunate last year with the way it worked out. In the Derry game, where he played 88 minutes or so, he was the best player on the pitch.
“He’s a great lad and an excellent player who is very comfortable in a couple of positions.”