Kenny thanks Sligo Rovers as Celtic confirm five year deal for Riverstown man

The 18-year-old lit up The Showgrounds in 2021 in his first season as a senior player.

Johnny Kenny applauding Sligo Rovers fans. Pic: Ben McShane/Sportsfile.

Jessica FarrySligo Champion

Celtic have finally confirmed the signing of Sligo Rovers’ Johnny Kenny who joins on a five year deal.

It’s understood Celtic paid a fee in the region of €150,000, plus additional future-based terms with Kenny’s schoolboy club Arrow Harps also benefitting.

The 18-year-old, a product of the Rovers’ renowned academy which has developed over a third of the current first-team squad, was the top scorer for the Bit O’ Red in his debut professional season.

He netted 11 times in the SSE Airtricity League, as well as once in the Europa Conference game against FH of Iceland, and helped the club finish in third place in the league to secure consecutive European qualifications.

A message posted on Kenny’s twitter page read: “After six years at the club I have grown up loving, it has come to an end. This has been such a tough decision and message to write because I love playing for my hometown club and I love being at home.

"But I think now is the time to test myself at another level. I want to say thanks to every academy manager at the club who has helped me, you’ve been amazing. There is just too many to name.

"To all the people who keep this club running on a daily basis, I want to say thank you for everything since I walked in at that gate at the age of 13.

"To the gaffer Liam Buckley, and John Russell, without their trust in me I would be nowhere near where I am today. I can’t speak highly enough of them and what they have done for me.

"Finally, to play for the club I love in front of you special fans, it was incredible. I got goosebumps every time my name went around The Showgrounds. It was a special feeling to play and score in front of all of you. I want to say a massive thanks for taking to me and the support you’ve given me and I’m sorry I didn’t give you the send off you deserved.

"I am now and forever a support of Rovers, and I can’t wait to watch and support from across the water. This club has a special place in my heart. Thank you.”

A statement on behalf of the club’s management committee: “Following the conclusion of a period of negotiation with Celtic, the terms for the transfer of Johnny Kenny have been agreed to the satisfaction of Sligo Rovers.

“Johnny has made a noteworthy contribution to Sligo Rovers in just one season as a senior professional, helping the club secure European football again and establishing what is now a tradition of the Kenny family thrilling our supporters.

“We would like to acknowledge the work of his former club Arrow Harps FC for their role in Johnny’s development and the coaches within our academy who nurtured his game for four years until promotion to the first-team exactly 12 months ago.

“We will continue to evolve and invest in the Sligo Rovers Academy with our philosophy of creating a regional hub for footballers in the north-west, Connacht and beyond.

“As we build towards the new first-team season, our intention is to ensure our progress on the pitch is maintained.”

Sligo Rovers manager Liam Buckley said: “Johnny has been magnificent for Sligo Rovers. At a very young age he showed all the attributes to make a successful career in the game and he can take great pride in what he has already achieved in these very early days.

“It was clear a move would occur at some point and as it comes now, all of our staff, players and coaches wish him the very best. He retains our support whenever needed.

“The focus on first-team squad investment has not been altered. We have over 20 players under contract as pre-season begins and finishing off the squad is the priority of all. We will speak more on this in time. For now we congratulate Johnny and look forward to preparing for the 2022 season.”