Shamrock Rovers have announced that their star striker Gary Twigg will leave the club at the end of the League of Ireland season. Twigg had been offered a new contract with the Hoops but for family reasons has decided to leave Rovers. With his young family living in Northern Ireland, it is expected that Twigg will join an Irish League side, most likely Portadown.
On Friday, at the final home league game of the season against UCD, Twigg will receive a tribute from the club he has helped win four trophies in his four years with the club.
Speaking ahead of the final game, Twigg praised the Shamrock Rovers and fans for making the last four year so enjoyable.
“I want to thank everyone at the club, the manger who brought me in, and those I’ve played under this season, for everything they have done for me over the past four seasons. And I especially want to thank the fans, they have been brilliant to me and I couldn’t have achieved what I did at the club without them.
"I also want the fans to know that I am only leaving to be nearer my family. I don’t want to leave the club and wouldn’t be if it was only a football decision, but it isn’t. My family is the most important thing to me and I had to make this decision for their sake. I loved played for Rovers and have great memories from my time here.”
It is the end of an era in Tallaght for Twigg whose first home game for Rovers was the club’s debut in Tallaght Stadium in 2009. Twigg scored the very first goal in the new stadium making him a firm fans favourite. His hero status was cemented with his two goals in the last two minutes of the first Dublin Derby in Tallaght against Bohemians turning a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 win.
When Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill took over as manager at Shamrock Rovers, he brought Twigg with him from Brechin in the Scottish Second Division. Rovers paid £15,000 for the Scotsman and it was money well spent as he scored 24 goals in his first season with the Hoops who finished second in the league that season. Twigg earned the club’s Player of the Year award and his peers in the league awarded him the PFAI Player of the Year award.
His 20 goals in 2010 helped Shamrock Rovers earn their first league title since 1994. His 50th goal for Rovers was in the final game of that season, a nail biting 2-2 draw in Bray. That point was enough for Rovers to win the league on goal difference.
Twigg scored goals at will and his goal celebrations and enthusiasm endeared him to the Tallaght faithful. His goals were celebrated with vigour on the pitch by the player and with fervour in the stands from the Rovers supporters. Twigg rapidly became a fans favourite with a rendition of the Scottish national anthem in honour of “Twigg of Scotland” being sung from the stands at games.
The 28 year old will almost certainly finish top scorer in the Airtricity League again this season; the third time in his four years in the League of Ireland. A remarkable achievement given he is not the designated penalty taker for Rovers. He has scored 19 League goals this season and his 78 league goals in four years puts him 8th in the all-time list of goalscorers at Shamrock Rovers. Those 78 league goals were scored in incredibly just 88 games - a goal scoring rate that will be forever favourably remembered at Rovers.