Ronan Murray has left Dundalk after just one season at Oriel Park, signing a two-year contract with Sligo Rovers in what has already been a week of unfathomable change for the Lilywhites.
Dundalk were rocked over the weekend with the news that their most successful manager in history, Stephen Kenny was departing the club to take up a post within the new Republic of Ireland structure.
It is understood that Murray – who featured 23 times in Dundalk’s league winning campaign – was already considering his options however, having found first-team opportunities somewhat limited.
That said, the acquisition of the Mayo native will be seen as a major coup for new Sligo manager Liam Buckley, who has also tied Regan Donelon and Kyle Callan-McFadden to one-year extensions.
Murray, before moving to Dundalk, had spent time with Galway United and despite suffering relegation with the Tribesmen, he was named in the PFAI Team of the Year at the end of 2017.
“Sligo Rovers has always meant something to me,” said Murray. “It’s my closest club. I have friends that attend games, that play for the team and it is special to me. I’m not here to play in a team struggling.
“I’ve signed with a view to be a big part in taking the club towards former heights. I don’t think it will be overnight. It’s a two-year project at least certainly and that is why I’ve signed for that period because I believe in it.
“It’s not rhetoric or saying it for the sake of it. I’m really happy to be a Sligo Rovers player at last and more than anything I’m excited. I’ve always wanted to play here.
“The Sligo Rovers I used to hear about from David Cawley, Gary Boylan or from people in Mayo were the great years for the club – the 2012 league, the FAI Cups, the Showgrounds packed out.
“The long-term plan is to get the club at least near that. It’s a clean slate and we’ve a manager here who has a terrific track record of not just winning but of playing a brand of football that a club like Rovers love.
“He [Buckley] is enthusiastic and he is bringing energy early on, you can see that today from the other lads. At my age I suppose I’ll be one of the most experienced players. I guess I bring that.
“What I can say is I take a lot from my time at Dundalk. I was part of a dressing-room that was exemplary, that had leadership and dedication and showed younger players how to operate and how to look after themselves and be totally dedicated to football. I’d like to have that influence here as well and pass that knowledge on.
“My message to the Sligo Rovers fans is I can’t wait to be a home player in the Showgrounds. It has been a while coming and I’d really hope they get behind the club because I firmly believe we can build something again.”
Murray started his professional career with Ipswich Town and made 14 appearances in all competitions for the Tractor Boys, even scoring on his debut for the club in a League Cup tie against Exeter City in 2010.
While at Ipswich, he spent time out on loan at Torquay United and Swindon Town, helping the latter to win promotion as League Two winners under the management of Paolo Di Canio in 2011/12.
Another loan to Plymouth Argyle then followed before Murray transferred to Notts County, making a total of 60 appearances in three seasons before returning to Ireland with Galway United in 2017.