Ian Morris has further bolstered his Shelbourne squad as he prepares to lead the promotion push in 2019.
The club confirmed the capture of experienced defender Luke Byrne on Tuesday. The Dubliner was most recently playing with Shamrock Rovers.
Byrne spent five seasons at the Tallaght Stadium having joined from their Dublin rivals Bohemian FC in 2014.
The 25-year-old quickly established himself as a regular in the starting XI but a serious knee injury saw the entire 2016 campaign written off.
The 25-year-old made 19 appearances the following year and featured on 14 occasions in his final season with the Hoops. In total the former St Kevin’s schoolboy made 105 appearances for Rovers, 97 of those were starts.
New chapter 🔴⚪️ Hopefully a successful season for us https://t.co/0Z29GlZhwR
— Luke Byrne (@LukeByrne93) January 15, 2019
Morris has a number of experienced defenders signed up for next season after retaining both Derek Prendergast and Lorcan Fitzgerald.
The 31-year-old has begun building for life in the Premier Division too it seems, with the news that Ciaran Kilduff has signed for two years.
Shels have also convinced Darragh Noone to move Bray Wanderers, bringing to 19 the number of players signed up for the 2019 SSE Airtricity League first division campaign.
Having been backed by the owner Andrew Doyle and given significant resources to strengthen the squad, the pressure will quickly come on Ian Morris to deliver results. The Reds finished 3rd last season, 7 behind the champions UCD.
In the 2017 season they were 19 points off the eventual winners Waterford, who invested heavily to secure the title.
The commitment made by Doyle in terms of investment was rumoured to be in the region of €300,000. For 2019 Shels will likely operate with the highest budget in the first division and will be favourites for the title.
Having failed to gain promotion under the tutelage of experienced managers in Johnny McDonald and Owen Heary the club changed tact and decided to take a chance on the inexperience Ian Morris.
They’ve enjoyed success in the past by taking risks with appointments, Pat Fenlon was named player-manager in April 2002. He was two-years older than Morris is now; he guided the club to a second place Premier Division finish during his first season at the helm.
Morris hoping to be the man to guide Shelbourne to success
Nutsy guided Shels to back to back titles in 2003 and 2004 before the club went on their historic Champions League run which saw them make it to the final round of qualifying before bowing out at the hands of Deportivo La Caruna.
Morris comes highly rated having combined his playing days at Bohs with work as the club’s Youth Development Officer. He also gained experience in England, where he spent a decade as a player and represented the likes of Leeds United, Blackpool, Scunthorpe, Torquay and Northampton Town.
The recruitment of quality players like Ciaran Kilduff, Luke Byrne and Conan Byrne is impressive however Shels failed to land their top target.
Morris was not their first choice to succeed Owen Heary, Tim Clancy turned down the job and opted instead to remain with Drogheda United.
The recruitment of a strong squad peppered with premier division quality and the retention of the club’s Player of the Year James English, as well as experienced defenders Derek Prendergast and Lorcan Fitzgerald will endear Morris to the Reds faithful.
Fans though will be hoping the boom-bust cycle will not repeat this time as they go in search of promotion back to the top tier of Irish football.
SHELBOURNE SQUAD FOR 2019
Luke Byrne, Derek Prendergast, Lorcan Fitzgerald, John Ross Wilson, Dan Byrne, Aidan Friel,
Darragh Noone, Alex O’Hanlon, Dayle Rooney, Sean Quinn, Ryan Brennan, Conan Byrne, Oscar Brennan, Karl Moore.
Greg Moorehouse, Ciaran Kilduff, James English, Shane Farrell.