Sligo Stunned as Mark Says No!

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SLIGO Rovers’ first team coach and former Brandywell boss, Gavin Dykes, remains mystified why his former protégé, Mark Farren, rejected a move to the Showgrounds last Monday night.

ARTHUR DUFFY reports

The Greencastle man, who spent in excess of six hours in negotiations with the Bit O’Red is understood to have agreed personal terms on an 18 months contract; was impressed with the club’s facilities and, of course, passed a medical before opting not to sign on the dotted line!

“I still can’t come to terms with his decision,” said Dykes this week. “Don’t get me wrong, Mark has made his decision and we have to accept that and, indeed, we wish him well in his career but I do believe he’s made a major mistake.

“We had a lengthy chat after showing him around the place. We eventually agreed personal terms, he appeared to be happy with the deal but, after the medical he couldn’t bring himself to sign the deal which shocked us.

“We felt we had signed an additional striker, an experienced centre-forward who would go on to play an integral role in Sligo winning the Premier Division title this season. We felt it was a challenge he would relish now that he’s recovered from his operation and other injuries he had this season.

“We also included an ‘out’ in his contract which covered both Mark and the club. If he was not happy or, indeed, we were not happy, then we could terminate the arrangement without any problem, yet he failed to sign with us and, I would have to say, made matters very difficult for us given the close proximity of the League of Ireland Transfer Window,” noted Dykes.

“As it turned out, we failed to bring in a player during the Window, but we have got other irons in the fire and can still sign out of contract players to join us for the remainder of the season at least.”

Glenavon Make

Official Approach

Meanwhile, it’s now understood that Glenavon have officially approached the Brandywell club seeking permission to open discussions with Farren now that the Sligo move failed to materialise.

Having already secured the services of Eddie McCallion on a two year contract, the Lurgan club’s team boss, Gary Hamilton, sees Farren as the perfect striker to replace himself in the “Blues” front line.

However, should Farren agree to join the Irish League club, he will not be in a position to play for them until January, 2013, which would be half-way through their season.

Derry boss, Declan Devine, confirmed that Glenavon had been in touch and that permission would be granted for negotiations to take place. However, he was glad to have the player at the Brandywell until the end of the season at least.

“I’m glad to have Mark back with us and given that we are missing quite a few players, it’s good to have another striker in the squad. I believe Mark still has goals in him and I know he wants to beat Liam Coyle’s record which I certainly hope he does.

“Due to his lack of match fitness, he came on from the substitutes’ bench in our last two games and, over the next two weeks, he will be involved in full training sessions as he attempts to get match fit,” continued Devine.

And in relation to the Glenavon approach, Devine has given the Lurgan club permission to speak to him.

“The reality is that other clubs are always interested in our players. Mark is under contract until October 31st next and I’m hopeful that during that time he will prove to be a major asset for us.

“Other clubs such as Glenavon realise that he is a quality player, so we’re not going to stand in his way. If they wish to speak to him, that’s fine, but he will be with us until the end of the season at least,” insisted the Derry boss.

With no matches now for two weeks due to St. Pat’s involvement in the Europa League and, of course, the departure of Monaghan United from the Premier Division, the next outing for the “Candy Stripes” will be at the Brandywell on Friday, August 17th next.

“We play Bohemians on August 17th, travel to Bray on Monday, August 20th and then play UCD in the FAI Cup the following Friday, August 24th.

“Hopefully, we will have a full complement of players available at that stage but, in the meantime, the squad will continue to train hard as we hope to finish the season on a high note.

“Stewart Greacen and Rory Patterson could be available for the Bohs match with Kevin Deery, hopefully, following them into the squad one week later,” he concluded.