CORK CITY have signed a trio of young guns for the 2020 season.
Neale Fenn will have a new-look squad in place for the campaign, after a disappointing year where they dropped from contenders to mid-table.
Defenders Rob Slevin and Charlie Fleming have committed to one-year contracts, subject to medicals, while midfielder Alec Byrne has re-signed after showing real promise in recent months.
Slevin spent the end of last season at Waterford after a few years at UCC.
“Obviously I’m delighted. I’m from Carrigaline, so I’ve grown up watching Cork City and I’m delighted to sign. I know a good few of the current squad - I played with Alec Byrne all the way up with Carrigaline, and I know a few of the lads, so I’m looking forward to getting started.
Speaking after the deal was done, City boss Neale Fenn said: “He’s a local boy. Joe (Gamble) would’ve worked with him towards the end of the season at Waterford and earmarked him as a defender that we wanted to get in, so it’s exciting for us that he’s decided to come. I’m really looking forward to having him here.”
Fleming signs after spending five years at Cobh Ramblers, and he feels that he is ready for the step up to the Premier Division.
“I’m delighted, it’s a big opportunity for myself. I’ve been at Cobh now for five years, so I feel like it’s the next step up. The way the club is going next year, Neale is looking for young and hungry players, and that’s exactly what I am. I’ve played with most of the squad before, so I won’t be going into a completely different dressing room, I’d be familiar with all of the faces.
"Once Neale rang me, I knew this was the place I wanted to be, so I’m delighted to sign."
Alec Byrne arrived at the club in 2015 and featured prominently in the U17 and U19 sides before graduating to the first team in 2017. After spending most of the last two years sidelined with injuries, he finally broke into the starting 11 towards the tail end of the 2019 season.
“I’m delighted to get signed back. I can’t wait to get going in pre-season in the next few weeks. I’ve been here as long as I can remember, since the under 17s, and I’ve progressed all the way up. The way Neale wants us to play suits my style down to the ground. I like getting on the ball and I base my game on the technical side, and I think the young, fearless players that he has brought in won’t be afraid to get on the ball so we will hopefully play a nice style of football. I want to play as many games as possible, but as a collective, we need to go back up the table to where we belong.”
Meanwhile, Cobh Ramblers FC have announced the club’s first re-signing for the 2020 League of Ireland campaign. Defender Charlie Lyons has become the first confirmed member of Stuart Ashton’s squad for the new First Division season.
He joined the club from Preston North End in 2019, making his debut in the Munster Senior Cup tie with Cork City. The 19-year-old went on to become a firm fixture in the squad, making 25 senior appearances. He previously played for Innishvilla at schoolboys level, prior to joining Championship outfit Preston where he spent two years within their youth setup.
“I was eager to sign back as I think we proved in our performances at the end of the season that we are well able to compete at the top end of the league. Our goal is to still be in contention for the play-offs at the break and we’re confident of achieving that.
Last year was my first season playing in this league and I could see that anyone is able to beat anyone. I learned a lot playing at this level. Mistakes and poor starts are punished. That should stand to me for the new season and I can’t wait to get going.”