Stephen Walsh returns to Galway United as youngster Rooney signs first pro deal

Tue, Jan 02 2018

Walsh scored seven goals over 145 appearances in two previous spells with his hometown club. Credit: Steve Alfred

Galway United have boosted their defensive ranks for the 2018 season with the return of utility man Stephen Walsh and a first senior contract for under-17 star Adam Rooney.


27-year-old centre-half Walsh returns to Deacy Park after a season-long absence that saw him spend half a season each with midlands rivals Longford Town and Athlone Town.


The local boy previously spent five seasons with the Tribesmen in two separate spells since joining from Galway Hibernians in 2010, scoring seven goals in 145 appearances.


He spent two seasons with Mervue United between 2012 and 2013 before joining the newly-formed Galway FC for their promotion season in 2014.


Manager Shane Keegan enthused about the defender's return after being denied the opportunity to work with him in his debut season at the helm.

"In previous years, as an opposition manager, I would've seen a bit of Walshy and the first phrase that comes to mind when you think of him as a player is wholehearted,” he said.


"He is a player who likes a tackle, he's a rugged defender who actually enjoys defending, while also clearing having ability on the ball.


"He offers a lot of versatility to us as well, I think he can be a really good addition to our squad.


"In terms of my squad recruitment, it's at centre-half that we primarily brought Stephen in for, but the fact that he does give us options in other positions means that he can challenge on a few fronts."


Defender Rooney has been handed his first senior contract after impressing for the under-17s as they reached the semi-finals of last season's National League, losing on penalties to Cork City.


The 17-year-old, who remains eligible for the under-19s next year, played each of the Tribesmen's 1 games and scored five goals during the season.


And the young centre-half, who was compared to Ryan Delaney by his new boss, impressed enough in sessions with the senior team last year to earn himself a full contract.


"We brought Adam in for sessions here and there last season and he did really well for a guy that was so young,” said Keegan.


"There was no doubt that we saw massive potential in him. Adam has his leaving cert this year, so it's important that we bed him into the first team properly.


"He's got tremendous physical attributes. Our under-17 manager Alan Murphy has been glowing in his praise of Adam. I was very impressed when I sat down and spoke with him.


"Ryan Delaney would've been a similar age to Adam when we won the First Division at Wexford Youths.


“Ryan probably started that season as number 19 or 20 in our squad and by the second half of the season, he was starting week in, week out.


"As far as I'm concerned, if a player is good enough and they're showing it on the training ground, they're going to be thrown into the first team. That's the carrot that is there for Adam."


Galway now have 12 players signed for 2018: Eoin McCormack, Ryan Connolly, Marc Ludden, Conor Barry, Aaron Conway, Maurice Nugent, Gary Kinneen, Gary Shanahan, Alex Byrne, Conor Melody, Stephen Walsh and Adam Rooney.