Sligo Rovers manager John Russell believes striker Aidan Keena is ‘one of the best in the league’ as he put in a stellar performance against Finn Harps at The Showgrounds on Saturday evening.
The Mullingar native put Rovers 1-0 up against Harps with two minutes played, before making it 3-0 in the dying stages after Karl O’Sullivan had made it 2-0.
Keena’s all round performance was stunning, earning him the man of the match accolade, and his manager was also full of praise for the former Falkirk man.
“He’d a super game, he’s a real talent,” John Russell said afterwards.
“I think he’s probably one of the best strikers in the league. He did really well playing off Max tonight.
“The top two linked up really well in the first half and then he went up top on his own. He could have had a hat-trick in the end, he was really unlucky, one on one with the ‘keeper and he’s doing really well at the moment.”
It was Russell’s first game officially as manager, and he was very pleased with his side’s performance.
“Some really good individual performances, and the team as well.
“We asked the players to get a win tonight, we’ve been off for a few weeks, we worked really hard in the training ground, so delighted to get that home win tonight.
“I really thought we started on the front foot and in fairness to Finn Harps they did grow into the game, through the first half they caused us problems.
“They had one or two chances, I thought Ed McGinty was superb tonight. For me he’s the best ‘keeper in the league, and he showed it tonight, delighted he got that clean sheet.”
That was only a second clean sheet at home for the Bit O’Red this season. Russell still sees some areas he would like to improve on.
“There is definitely improvement in us, it’s a work in progress.
“I felt in the second-half we could have kept the ball better.
“There was times when we kept going back to the same side and we weren’t recycling it quick enough, and moving it and opening the pitch up.
“At times we were getting caught on the counter. It’s something we can review and improve on as we go forward. Delighted with that clean sheet.”
There were plenty of positives for Russell and his staff, but he’s not getting carried away.
The game will be reviewed and he will look at improving in areas he feels require improvement.
“Speaking to the staff during the game and after, there was loads of positives and it’ll be great for the players to look back on. There’s loads to improve on, I’m looking forward to looking back at it and looking forward to getting back into training this week to prepare for the next game.”
Russell handed a first appearance to Kailin Barlow, who’s in the senior side this season for the first time.
“In fairness to Kailin, he’s been super in training for the last month, it’s reward for him and it’s great too for the academy, six players on the bench tonight have come through the academy.”
Russell is unbeaten during his time in charge, and he wants it to continue.
“Hopefully it keeps going that way. There’s loads to work on, we’re happy to get the three points tonight and we’ll move on.”