UCD begin to build following high-profile summer departures as Sligo Rovers' Jack Keaney signs up

Mon, Jul 08 2019

Keaney in action for Sligo Rovers against his home county team Finn Harps earlier this season. Credit: Clare McCahill (ETPhotos)

Sligo Rovers midfielder Jack Keaney has left the Bit O’ Red to take up a scholarship with UCD as the Students look to rebuild their squad after a string of departures in the summer.

20-year-old Keaney has played a big part in Sligo’s season but has been tempted away by the educational opportunities presented by Ireland’s largest university.

UCD have been hit hard in this summer's transfer market as captain Gary O'Neill and Ireland under-21 winger Neil Farrugia signed for Shamrock Rovers.

Striker Conor Davis has joined midfielder Greg Sloggett, who made the move north in the off-season, at Derry City, while defender Liam Scales is set to sign for Bristol Rovers.

The Donegal native played 54 times in total for Liam Buckley’s side after working his way up through the underage system, scoring six goals.

He is most remembered at the Showgrounds for scoring a Messi-esque free kick against Dundalk in the league earlier this season, and he may be joined in Belfield by Sligo teammate Liam Kerrigan.

“He has had this offer from UCD for a couple of seasons and has decided to take it up and we respect that decision,” Buckley told the club’s official website.

"Jack has made great strides and for a man of his age he has had a big influence on the pitch, as well as off of it. He can be very proud of that progress made.

"We are likely to lose one more player come the end of the month but we will look to bring in one or two to add to the squad. We will update on that shortly."

UCD manager Collie O’Neill added: “Jack is a quality player who has been a regular for Sligo this season.

“He’ll add an extra bit of quality to our side for the remainder of the season and over the coming years as he joins the college on scholarship.

“He’ll also be a big boost to the squad after a number of players have departed.”

Keaney will go straight into the Students’ squad for Wednesday night’s friendly against Portsmouth and the league fixture with Derry City on Friday night.