Wednesday 13 December 2017

Kenny heads race to replace O'Neill at Rovers

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

STEPHEN Kenny has been backed into odds-on favourite to become the next manager of Shamrock Rovers and he's expected to talk to the League of Ireland champions this week.

The Derry City boss was heavily supported yesterday, as it emerged that a previous fallout with the Hoops board would be no obstacle to his appointment.

Kenny had a disagreement with the club during the process that led to the appointment of Michael O'Neill back in 2008. However, the Dubliner is now the clear front-runner to succeed O'Neill. A dispute with Rovers over an incident between Derry's Eamon Zayed and Hoops midfielder Chris Turner earlier this year is also believed to be a non-issue, even though it made Kenny unpopular with some Rovers fans.

The Rovers board met on Monday night to discuss the path forward. Kenny is the preferred choice of the available options, although expressions of interest are still being registered from further afield, including beyond Ireland and the UK. An eye-catching application could still sway the verdict.

A number of former internationals fancy the role, and the most likely from that category is David Kelly, who, ironically enough, had a stint as a striker with Derry a decade ago.

Kenny is settled with his family in Donegal and stuck by Derry City when the club was demoted to the First Division for contract irregularities and effectively forced to return as a new entity.

He led the Candystripes back to the top flight and they challenged Rovers for the title this year before falling away in the final third of the campaign.

There is uncertainty over the club's budget for next year, however, and key defender, Scot Stewart Greacen, is about to sign for Irish League side Glentoran. Midfielder Gareth McGlynn is emigrating to Australia.

Rovers have told out-of-contract players that they should have a new boss in place by next week. The board have continued the process of tying up O'Neill's squad by agreeing a deal with Stephen O'Donnell, the Galwegian hit who slotted home the penalty kick that booked a spot in the Europa League group stages.

"Last season was the most exciting of my career and I'm looking forward to another great one," he said.

Rovers hope to finalise terms with striker Dean Kelly -- scorer of the league-winning goal against UCD in October -- who has also been approached by St Patrick's Athletic.

Runners-up Sligo are preparing to a mount strong challenge next term, and they added to an impressive list of recruits yesterday by securing the capture of Meathman Gary Rogers from St Patrick's Athletic.

"Gary brings with him a decade of experience and has been consistently one of the best goalkeepers around," says boss Paul Cook, who has already enhanced this options with the arrival of Romuald Boco, Mark Quigley and Daniel North. "We have put toget-her the basis of a good squad, I'm happy with the business we have done so far."

Top-scorer Eoin Doyle could link up with Pat Fenlon at Hibernian, though, with the ex-Bohs boss also looking to monitor teenage Gypsies winger Chris Forrester.

Meanwhile, Dundalk should name a new manager in the next 48 hours. Bray boss Pat Devlin has indicated he will be staying with the Seagulls, leaving last year's assistant Darius Kierans in pole position.

Irish Independent

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