The summer transfer window closed last week with three new faces – Runar Hauge, Robbie McCourt and Alfie Lewis – coming through the doors at Oriel Park. We caught up with chairman Sean O’Connor at the end of a hectic week.
GMCL: Sean, the transfer window closed with three new faces arriving at the club; Robbie McCourt, Runar Hauge and Alfie Lewis. I think it’s fair to say the club has carried out some good business…
SOC: Yeah, it’s been a very positive window. We’re sitting in a solid position in the league. Now is the chance to build on that. It’s about growing from here and I think the three players that we have brought in not only give the management team another level of options, but they are young players who we can build a team around in the long term. I know from speaking to Stephen (O’Donnell) that Robbie and Alfie are two players that he has admired for a long time. He has worked with Alfie before and I believe he tried to sign Robbie before so these aren’t reactionary decisions, they are strategic and thought out and we’re looking forward to seeing how they get on.
GMCL: The three new arrivals are all in their early twenties. Was that a conscious factor?
SOC: Yeah, it’s a sign of what we’re looking to do. They are young players who have yet to come into the prime of their football careers and people who I think will thrive under Stephen and fit the identity and the kind of culture he is building here at Oriel Park. The character of the players we bring to the club has to be right and we feel the three new lads will come in and add to what we already have.
GMCL: There’s a real buzz of excitement when a new player arrives and hopefully the three new lads can come in and push us on towards a place in Europe next season…
SOC: Definitely. When you look at the kind of players we’re after taking in, Runar is someone who brings an explosive element. He has a lot of pace and will bring an extra dimension to our attack while in midfield and defence you have two players who know the league well, are still relatively young, and can add options and depth to an already good squad in the latter part of the season.
GMCL: It’s a big coup to bring Alfie Lewis back to Ireland. He won the FAI Cup with St Patrick’s Athletic last season and I’m sure there were several clubs here looking for his signature.
SOC: Alfie is a fantastic addition to the squad and there is no doubt that there were a number of clubs competing for his signature, both in the UK and Ireland. Once the opportunity presented itself, we were able to agree a deal with Plymouth and the player himself quite quickly. I think that’s a sign of our intent and our plans to support the management and get key players in to build on our progress to date.
GMCL: Finally, can you explain the club’s reason to withdraw from discussions about bringing Mark Connolly back to Oriel Park?
SOC: Listen, Mark was fantastic for the club when he was here. Having had a few discussions with him myself, I know he was really good, both on and off the pitch. Unfortunately, we were not able to come to an agreement with all parties and we decided it wasn’t going to work out for the club. I wish Mark all the best. He’s a great lad but unfortunately, it just wasn’t to be on this occasion.