Sligo Rovers name former goalkeeper Danny O'Leary as head of youth development

Sun, Feb 04 2018

Sligo Rovers fans. Credit: Steve Alfred (ETPhotos)

Sligo Rovers have announced the appointment of former goalkeeper Danny O’Leary as the club’s new head of youth development.


O’Leary has been coaching the club’s under-17s for the past three years, a role which he will continue to fulfil as well as being in charge of the overall youth development strategy for Sligo.


“We felt it necessary to make the appointment to bridge the gap between our youth team management, the first-team management and the committee,” Sligo Rovers chairman Martin Heraghty told the club's official website.


“There are organisational issues, planning, liaising for key decisions for development of youth players and with clubs in the region.


“The role is tied to all of that and more. It will allow the coaches a point of contact to the committee and to work with the first-team manager on the latest updates from the youth teams.


“We feel it’s an appointment to help all areas of youth football at the club and Danny is a great fit for the role.”


Products of the Bit O’Red’s academy make up a significant portion of the club’s first team squad with Gary Boylan, Regan Donelon, Ed McGinty, John Mahon and Jack Keaney all featuring.


It will be up to O’Leary to ensure that more players can come through the club’s youth system.


O'Leary said: “It’s all about creating a pathway for young players from under-15 level right up to the senior squad.


“Our job is to ensure that we find the best players from across the region, nurture and develop their natural talent and equip them with the necessary skills so that they’re ready to play senior football if and when that chance comes.


“To have five players in the current senior squad who have graduated from our youth ranks proves that it can be done, and Gerard Lyttle has demonstrated that he is prepared to give young players a chance in the first team. In the pre-season games so far, seven or eight of our youngsters have been given a run.


“My goal would be to see at least three of our under-19 squad progressing to the senior squad each year, and with the supply line then continuing from the under-15s and under-17s, the ultimate aim would eventually be to have the basis of the first team produced locally.


“I appreciate there will probably always be a need for a club like Rovers to bring in players from England and Scotland to supplement what we develop ourselves, but I firmly believe we can get to a stage where the majority of the first team squad will be home produced.


“That’s the aim of the strategy we have in place and I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to see it implemented over the coming years.”


O’Leary was a distinguished footballer in his own right, he was a Premier Division and FAI Cup winner with Shelbourne and spent two seasons at the Showgrounds as a player before going on to represent Kildare County, Longford Town, Athlone Town and Monaghan United.