Anyone with a keen interest in the League of Ireland will have noticed the consistency at which recently-crowned champions Cork City have signed players from fellow Premier Division club Sligo Rovers.
A relatively recent phenomenon, the Leesiders now partake in an almost annual tradition of picking up some of the Connacht club’s most impressive stars, an activity that has been of substantial benefit to John Caulfield’s side as well as previous squads he would not have been involved with.
Three members of the side that drew with Derry City on Tuesday night to claim the Premier Division title were ex-Bit O’ Red men, namely Steven Beattie, Jimmy Keohane and substitute Achille Campion.
Some players have made the move to Turner’s Cross with ease while others probably wish they had stayed out west.
Here we look at some of the names who have made the common move in recent seasons.
‘Beats’ is the prime example of a player for whom the transfer worked out brilliantly. The Dubliner made a name for himself at Bohemians before joining a strong ex-Bohs contingent at Sligo under Owen Heary.
He remained there for a season-and-a-half before John Caulfield came calling in July 2015. Two-and-a-half seasons later and Beattie has won the league, the FAI Cup, the President’s Cup and the Munster Cup on Leeside, making over 70 appearances in Europe and the league. The winger-cum-full-back is a firm fan favourite at the Cross and Sligo’s loss has undoubtedly been Cork’s gain.
Keohane is one of the quieter members of the 2017 squad but played a key role nonetheless in City’s league triumph. The midfielder began his time in the League of Ireland at Wexford in 2009 before a spell cross-channel with Bristol City, Exeter and Woking respectively.
A return to Ireland came in 2016, as he signed for Sligo, making 31 appearances. John Caulfield’s fondness of Rovers players was well-known at this stage and in 2017 a deal was completed for the England-born star.
Keohane’s featured in 28 of Cork City’s league games in 2017, scoring on three occasions, and contributed hugely to a side not short on star players. Another for whom the move south has worked out rather well and he will be hoping to add a first FAI Cup winners medal to his collection later on this season when City face Dundalk at the Aviva Stadium.
Cork City and Sligo are very often two clubs forgotten about when one speaks of Daryl Horgan’s career to date. The Preston North End winger spent the first half of 2011 at Rovers before joining Cork, then of the First Division, in the summer window on loan.
His seven league goals helped the Leesiders to promotion and he signed a two-year deal ahead of their 2012 campaign back in the top tier. Altogether Horgan scored 18 times in 72 appearances over the course of his Cork City spell.
Alas, a move to Dundalk in 2014 ended his time at the Cross and his spell in Louth needs no description. The current Ireland international moved to Preston following Dundalk’s standout 2016 League of Ireland campaign but it is his switch from Sligo to Leeside that City fans regard the most crucial in his development. It was arguably the transfer that really set the wheels in motion for the Galway native’s rise to the top.
The list goes on and on – with current City attackers Kieran Sadlier and Achille Campion the most recent of players to make the move.The jury remains out, however, on their impact just yet.
Sadlier has impressed in his short spell at the Cross so far while City fans will be looking for an improvement from Campion next season if he is to stay at the club.
Iarfhlaith Davoren and Ross Gaynor are two more who plied their trade at both clubs in recent times during solid if not spectacular spells.