Sligo Rovers CrestSligo Rovers Crest

History 2000-Present

Rule

[Cassidy's Team] [A good Start] [The Hour of our discontent] [The last AGM of the Millenium]
[Back in the race] [An unwelcome interuption] [ Just not good enough]


2001 - A familiar Odyssey

Tommy Cassidy's Team.

Michael Mc Namara wins another header.Tommy Cassidy had taken over from Jim Mc Inally in mid-season and was therefore working with an inherited squad. Cassidy was well used to dealing with the media and one of his favourite line was that he should be judged next season when he had "his team2 in place. So during the summer Glen Shannon, Donagh Oates joined the three players, El Khalifi, Boswell and Bonner who had been released in March, on the way out of the Showgrounds. Add to this the retirement of Nicky Bruojos and the emigration of Ross Mc Glynn to America and Cassidy felt the squad needed 5 or 6 players to be capable of oushing for promotion. Before the start of the new season the talented youngster, Keith Gilroy, joined Middlesbrough after a brief trial. As he was out of contract the club received an insignificant fee for him. The building of Cassidy's team started with the signing of Shelbourne reserve keeper Danny O'Leary and former Home Farm, Bohs and Tranmere Rovers midfielder Peter Rogers. Mayo born full back, Ray Mc Laughlin, joined after spells with Athlone Town and Shamrock Rovers. They were joined by Aubrey Dolan, a local who had played with Galway United last season, though he was due to leave for Germany at Christmas for work committements. Striker, Eamonn Sheridan, joined on loan from Finn Harps and the final piece of Cassidy's jigsaw was Dutch winger Michael Zaalman, who had been a youth team player at Feyenoord. The manager would have liked to sign the three Nigerian players who lined out against Omagh Town in a pre-season friendly but wage demands of 3000 p/w left them well out of Rovers range. He did have some promising local players to add to his books and Rovers fans would get to know the names Mc Namara, Cretaro and Jordan quite well.

A good Start.

Rovers made a good start to the season with a draw against promotion rivals, Athlone Town, followed by victory in the historic first league visit to Baldonnel to play the other Saints. After the victory against St. Francis Cassidy added the Dutch midfielder, Carel Van Der Velden of Shelbourne, to the squad. Rovers first home game of the season saw them held to a draw by a very stubborn Limerick side. The game proved significant as Padraig Moran's two goals took him past the fifty goal mark in his Rovers career. This game was followed by a very easy victory in Monaghan and then one of Rovers best performances of the season as they beat promotion favourites Dundalk at the Showgrounds. Everything looked on course for a successful push for promotion with the accuracy of the dead ball play of Zaalman and Van Der Velden proving to be a highly productive source of goals for Rovers.

Now is the hour of our discontent.

Sean Flannery.The first home game of the season against Limerick also brough the first signs of discontent in the Showgrounds ranks. Talented midfielder, Conor O'Grady, made himself unavailable for the game and within weeks the youngster had retired from football, for this season at least. Only a year earlier O'Grady had been made captain of the team by Jim Mc Inally and now he was leaving to take up a new job and play Gealic football. Rovers first visit of the season to the RSC in Waterford provided them with a humbling defeat which was more clear cut than the 3-2 scoreline might suggest. In the lead up to the AGM in December rumours started to circulate that Ian Gilzean would be returning to the Showgrounds. Then in the week leading up to the AGM Sean Flannery announced that he would be leaving Rovers to concentrate on Gaelic football. In the space of a couple of months Rovers had lost two of the most talented local players and the signs were beginning to point towards a less than happy dressing room. Defender Wesley Charles was sold to Bray Wanderers by the club for what the manager called "disciplinary reasons, which left the team without three experienced players. The fans were also unhappy as the stand development had ground to a halt with no real prospect of it being finished in the near future. One of the main bones of contention was the lack of floodlights which meant Rovers had to play their games on a Sunday afternoon. This lead to poor attendances. The management committee were also beginning to make noises about Rovers worsening financial condition. A season which started with such promise was now beginning to fall apart at the seams.

The last AGM of the Millenium.

In December The Sligo Football and Sports Development Society Limited held their first AGM in almost two years. This is the organisation which runs the football club we call Sligo Rovers. Outgoing Chairman Vincent Foley outlined the clubs financial position which was presented to the members as a seperate document. In short the clubs debts were in the region of 200,000 and rising all the time. Rovers did not have a Treasurer present to answer questions abou the finances and there was utter confusion about the position of Assistant Treasurer. The Chairman also told the meeting that 370,000 was required to finish off the new stand. He also outlined the result of a visit by engineering consultants aimed at restoring the floodlights on the Tracey Avenue side of the ground. The season was to end with the stand still unfinished and the floodlights making a brief appearance at the game against Cobh Ramblers and then lying idle for the rest of the season. The Chairman also denied the rumours linking Gilzean to the club though the player signed within a week of the AGM. A sometimes fiery meeting ended with an EGM arranged for March to allow the clubs auditors to explain the books presented to the meeting. On the night the AGM was held Rovers were surrendering a 2-0 lead to lose to Home Farm in Dublin and the hopes of promotion were fading fast.

Back in the race again.

Snow seats !All season Rovers had been forced to play catch-up on their promotion rivals because of an unusually high number of postponements. This also affected the Sligo Town supporters club who had to cancel their sponsored walk at the end of December because of a very heavy snow fall. This meant that the team always had ground to make up although they did have games in hand. In January the cup draw sent Rovers to the Carlisle Grounds for a reunion with Wesley Charles. It was to be a test of the teams Premier Division credentials and they failed it miserably. Rovers were completely outclassed as Bray ran riot, winning 5-0. The defeat could have been much worse had the Premier Division team not taken their foot off the gas in the second half. The cup defeat was followed by a home draw against Dundalk, with the Louth men snatching the equaliser in injury time, and then another defeat to the divisions best team, Waterford. As Rovers hardcore of loyal supporters made their way into the Showgrounds for the game against Limerick at the beginning of February most supporters thought the outcome was academic and Rovers season had already ended. A 1-0 win, inspired by the first goal for the club by young Mayo man John Jordan, sparked a run of four wins in a row which pulled Rovers back into the promotion race. It has to be said that they were aided and abetted by an amazing collapse by long time league leaders, Athlone Town. But, just as optimism was returning, another disaster was just around the corner !

An unwelcome interuption.

Near the end of February their was an outbreak of foot and mouth diseases in England which quickly turned into a full scale crisis for Ireland. Attempts to keep this potentially disastrous disease out of Ireland meant that all sporting events were suspended. So just as Rovers were building up a head of steam the teams momentum came to a grinding halt at the end of February. Play dis eventually resume near the end of March but Rovers were, once again hampered by postponements as their first scheduled game against Monaghan was postponed due to a frozen pitch caused by a late cold snap. Rovers game against Drogheda United could not be played either as the Louth teams were not yet allowed to play home or away games because of the diagnosed case of foot and mouth disease in the County.

Just not good enough !!

Close control from John Jordan.Rovers did eventually resume playing at the end of March with the re-fixed game in Monaghan and struggled to take a point home from Gortakeegan. The team followed this up with a stunning victory against league leaders Dundalk in a game played at United Park because Oriel Park was within the countries exclussion zone for the continuing foot and mouth crisis. Rovers continued to be frustrated by postponements as heave rain led to the postponement of the game in Limerick and Waterford's cup replay meant that the home game against the Suirsiders had to be put back. This meant that the team had to play five games in a two week period as the season was extended into April. In the first of these games, against Drogheda at the Showgrounds, another disaster struck. One of the finds of the season was Mayo man John Jordan. He had already notched his eleventh goal of the season against Drogheda, a remarkable feat for a player who only forced his way into the first team after Christmas. He was badly injured in the incident which led to Rovers penalty and second goal in this game and missed the rest of the season. It was a huge blow as Jordan had become Rovers main goal threat. Rovers lost their next two game and a win against Drogheda meant that promotion was still possible on the final day of the season if Rovers won and the other results went their way. As it transpired Rovers produced one of their most pathetic performances in Whitehall and were trounced 4-1 by Home Farm. To add insult to injury the team finished the game with only nine men in a game which summed up thier season perfectly.

The Home Farm game was a disastrous performance but Rovers had failed to win promotion because they were not good enough over the season. Thirteen defeats, six of them to Waterford (4) and Limerick (2) was simply not acceptable in a very poor First Division. Rovers now face the prospect of another year in the First Division with a crippling debt which will limit the quantity and quality of player which can be recruited during the summer. Add to this the fact that only one team will be promoted from this division next season and the future looks bleak.

© Copyright : Jim Garvey

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