Shamrock Rovers have snapped up Sean Kavanagh from under the noses of Derry City ahead of the closing of the transfer window this week. The left back had been training with the Candystripes but has chosen to sign for the Hoops.
“Stephen McPhail and Stephen Bradley rang me and it came about quite quickly over the weekend to get it done for today,” said Kavanagh the former Fulham player on Tuesday.
“I was really close to signing for Derry. I was just waiting for my deal to get sorted at Fulham. But Rovers came knocking and I'm a Dublin boy. It's tough to turn down Rovers.”
24-year-old Kavanagh who hails from Ringsend (where the Hoops were formed in 1899) played 23 times with Championship side Fulham across 2014 and 2015. He earned ten caps as an Ireland under 21 international and has spent stints on loan in League Two in the last couple of seasons.
“I loved it at Fulham. It was a big achievement for me and my family when I made my debut. I found it tough in the second season. The manager brought in a couple of players in my position and sort of pushed me back in the pecking order.
“I played a few games with Hartlepool and Mansfield but I still look back on my time in England quite fondly.”
Pending international clearance, he will be available for the Hoops on Friday against Dundalk.
“(Rovers are) the biggest club in Ireland so as soon as it comes knocking it's hard to say no. Tallaght is one of the best stadiums in the league. I know a couple of Rovers fans myself and they're looking forward to the first home game as well.”
The player has been on Rovers’ radar, according to Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradleyl, thanks to Rovers coach Damien Duff. "Damien was with Sean at Fulham and made me well aware of him, what type of player and character he was. Damien knew him really well as a person and spoke highly of him.
“Sean's played at a really good level for a number of years now. He can play a number of positions, full-back, left or right-wing or centre-midfield. He has really good quality on the ball. He's a good professional, he wants to work hard and do his business right so it all just fitted for what we need.
“When we knew he was agreeing to leave Fulham we made contact. He's been training at Derry and I know they liked him but once we spoke to him he said there's only one place he wanted to play. It was pretty straight forward, we met with him and it was agreed within two or three hours.”
While Bradley was delighted with his bit of business, his opposite number at Derry City wasn’t so happy. Telling the Derry Journal, Kenny Shiels confirmed “Sean had trained with the team, he had made friends and we had put him up in his accommodation, as we are expecting him to come and then I got hit with that on Monday morning.”
Having lost Kavanagh to Rovers, along with the close season departures of Barry McNamee and Aaron Barry both to Cork City and Dean Jarvis to Dundalk, there was a certain sense of frustration in Shiels’ comments to the Derry Journal.
“It seems as if I’m developing players for Dundalk, Cork City and Shamrock Rovers and that’s the feeling I get,” said Sheils.
Meanwhile the Hoops had been looking at two players in pre-season who have ended up signing for other clubs in the Premier Division. Dan Cleary trained with Rovers for all their pre-season including out at the Atlantic Cup but Cleary will be in the away dressing room at Tallaght with Dundalk on Friday.
Also, former Leeds United player Eoghan Stokes played for Rovers in a pre-season friendly against a Brentford XI a week before the season started. However Stokes signed for Bohemians – and was a second half substitute in Bohs’ 3-1 win over Rovers last Friday night.