Rovers return for Alan Mannus

Wed, Apr 18 2018

Hoops fans will be happy with the return of Alan Mannus to Rovers Credit: Macdara Ferris (ETPhotos)

Northern Ireland international Alan Mannus is making a return to Shamrock Rovers. The goalkeeper was part of the Hoops back-to-back league title winning teams in 2010 and 2011 before leaving for St. Johnstone. 

When his latest contract with the SPL club is complete in four weeks time, Mannus will be able to train with the Tallaght based club. 

The 35-year-old goalkeeper will be available for selection from 1 July for the Hoops. Rovers are due to play away in Cork the first week of July, followed by Europa League qualification action.

“We have been aware that Alan was considering his future for quite a while now,” said Hoops Head Coach Stephen Bradley who said he was delighted with the signing.

“I would like to thank our Sporting Director Stephen McPhail and the Board of Shamrock Rovers for the work and effort made over the past few months in securing Alan’s signature. 

“Alan is a huge addition to the squad and his signing further illustrates the work going on behind the scenes to ensure that we continue to build as a squad.“ 

There has been much speculation about the goalkeeping situation at Rovers with Stephen Bradley switching between current ‘keepers Tomer Chencinski and Kevin Horgan. 

Towards the end of last season Chencinski was dropped after Rovers’ extra-time FAI Cup semi-final replay defeat to Dundalk. Horgan came in to play the final three games of last season and the first three this year, only for Chencinski to come in for the following three games. 

Horgan subsequently regained his place in the starting line up at the end of last month. 

Despite criticism of his display in Rovers’ 2-1 loss to Dundalk on 6 April, 20-year-old Horgan kept his spot in the starting lineup and has played excellently in the last two games for Rovers (a 2-1 home loss to Bohs and a 1-0 defeat in Bray).  

In August 2009 Mannus moved from Linfield, where he won five league titles in nine years, to Rovers when then manager Michael O’Neill brought the ‘keeper to the club. He played 69 league games – and 89 in all competitions – during his two year spell across three seasons with the Hoops.

He was instrumental in securing Rovers’ first league title for 16 years when they won the league the following season – a year when he also won the 2010 SWAI Goalkeeper of the Year award. 

He helped the Hoops to the title the following season but he had left the club a number of months by the time they lifted the title in 2011. Prior to that he was part of the team who won Rovers the Setanta Sports Cup but he left the club just after the start of Rovers’ remarkable 2011 European campaign.

Crucially he saved a penalty in the Champions League Second Qualifying Round first leg 1-0 win over Flora Tallinn in Tallaght (see below).

His final game before moving to St Johnstone was in the second leg as his clean sheet in Estonia helped the Hoops progress to the Third Qualifying Round - and guarentee a Europa League play-off (which they subsequently won to qualify for the group stages).

With St. Johnstone he played a total of 191 league games, helping the Saints to their first ever Scottish Cup in 2014. 

Having made his international debut in 2004, he was part of former Hoops manager Michael O'Neill's Northern Ireland Euro 2016 squad in France, but he retired from international duty in March this year with eight caps to his name. 

Tommy Wright, his manager at St. Johnstone, spoke glowingly about Mannus earlier this week when he confirmed he was leaving the Scottish club

“He’s a model professional who has helped our younger goalkeepers enormously and he’s been a shining example to them.

“I think he’s definitely one who will be remembered in the St. Johnstone history books as one of the club’s great goalkeepers.

“I think he should definitely be up there in the class of ‘legends’ for what he has done over seven seasons here.”