Friday 19 January 2018

Penalty hero Kelly hopes to sweep Brush aside

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

FAI CUP final hero Ciaran Kelly has yet to pen a new deal with Sligo Rovers, but the goalkeeper hopes to nail down his future over the next week and battle for the No 1 shirt with Richard Brush next season.

The Mayo man reflected on a life-changing month since he saved all of Shamrock Rovers' penalties at the Aviva Stadium as he collected the Airtricity/Soccer Writers Association of Ireland Player of the Month award for November in Dublin yesterday.

Between turning on Christmas lights in various west of Ireland towns and launching his own soccer school, Kelly has squeezed in some contract talks with manager Paul Cook and hopes to reach agreement for next season soon.

"It still lies in the balance," he said. "Myself and the club will sit down and talk about it in the next few days. Hopefully in the next few days I can sit down and agree a contract with Sligo.

"Myself and Paul have a good understanding and whatever happens -- the first day of March when the season kicks off, I'll be working my socks off to try and stay No 1. Hopefully Richard will be there.

"I get on really well with Richard and he's one of the best goalkeepers I've ever played with. So we have a good understanding and we will work each other for that position."

Capturing both cups has increased expectation in Sligo as the club look ahead to a season where they will be expected to challenge for honours once again.

Cook is busy trying to re-sign the many members of his squad whose contracts expired at the end of last season and Kelly is hoping the majority stay.

"One thing about this year was that, after July, Paul put a good team, a good squad together," said Kelly. "At the start of the year a couple of pundits were saying could we be a top-three team. We didn't let that get inside our heads.

"But through the season we sat down and set our targets short-term, as in next match. So we took it from there and we seemed to do very well for ourselves.

"I think we'd only one loss in the second half of the season. It has gone well for us; hopefully we'll take that on board next year and just set ourselves targets."

Irish Independent

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