Saturday 20 January 2018

Loyalty not split: Richie

Sligo history no issue for Rovers' Ryan

Sligo Rovers captain Richie Ryan lifts the FAI cup. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE
Sligo Rovers captain Richie Ryan lifts the FAI cup. Photo: Barry Cregg / SPORTSFILE

FORMER Sligo Rovers hero Richie Ryan says he will put emotion to one side when he faces up to his former club for the first time tonight.

Ryan, who captained Sligo to an FAI Cup win in 2011, has returned to the League of Ireland after a stint in the SPL with Dundee United, and while the Tipperary lad had an unhappy debut in the Hoops shirt in Friday's 4-0 league defeat at home to St Patrick's Athletic, he hopes for better in tonight's game, an EA Sports Cup semi-final clash with his last Irish club.

"I don't think emotions will be a factor for me if I get to play in this game tonight, that's football, people change clubs and move around," says Ryan, who had four successful seasons with Sligo before moving to Dundee United in 2012.

"I had great times at Sligo but that was over a year and a half ago. We had good times and success there, I enjoyed playing for the club and I'm still in touch with some of the lads I played with, but players move on and you can't get too emotional about it," added Ryan, who was close to rejoining Sligo in the last week, though he opted for the Dublin Rovers ahead of the Sligo variety.

"I spoke to the clubs and had a few things to weigh up, but I made the decision to come to Shamrock Rovers. I had other things to consider, like my girlfriend coming over, but in the end I made the right call," says Ryan, who agreed an 18-month deal with Trevor Croly's side which will take him up to the end of the 2014 season.

Suspensions to midfielders Stephen Rice and James Chambers for last Friday's game with St Pat's meant that Ryan was needed to start, though it was a difficult reintroduction to the League of Ireland for the ex-Sunderland star as Rovers went down 4-0.

"Friday against Pat's wasn't great in terms of a debut, but the sending-off for Derek Foran in the first half changed the game," he says.

"It was a strange night, you don't expect Shamrock Rovers to be 4-0 down at home, but Pat's had two extra men on the pitch so they had a massive advantage over us."

With a challenge for the league title now unlikely due to the 14-point gap between Rovers and league leaders St Pat's, the best chance of silverware – and European qualification – is through the cup competitions, and a win tonight would seal a League Cup final place for Ryan and the Hoops.

"I want to win a trophy, that's why I came here and this game tonight is a massive one for us," Ryan says.

"We are still in the FAI Cup as well and we want to finish as high as we can in the league, but the EA Sports Cup is important for us."

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