Friday 24 November 2017

Youths' new faces

Aidan Friel in the Athlone Town colours when he visited Ferrycarrig Park in September with his former club
Aidan Friel in the Athlone Town colours when he visited Ferrycarrig Park in September with his former club
Danny Ledwith wearing the away strip of Sligo Rovers last April during the second of his two seasons with the Bit O'Red

Wexford Youths manager Shane Keegan has started the process of strengthening his squad for the first-ever SSE Airtricity Premier Division campaign with the signing of two defenders last week.

Danny Ledwith arrives to Ferrycarrig Park from Sligo Rovers, while Aidan Friel is an acquisition from Athlone Town who impressed the boss in Youths' outings with the midlanders this season.

Ledwith has plenty of top flight experience after spending two years with Sligo Rovers, lining out mainly at left-back.

A native of Arklow, the new arrival previously played with UCD and Shamrock Rovers, and helped his last club to success in the 2014 Setanta Sports Cup.

The 24-year-old was part of the Arklow Town side which won the LFA Youths Cup in 2010 and signed for UCD that summer. He played 21 league games for the students in 2011, after making his debut in a Setanta Cup match against Lisburn Distillery at Dalymount Park.

Another 25 league games and three goals followed in 2012 before Ledwith joined Shamrock Rovers at the end of that season.

Again, his debut for the Hoops came in the Setanta Cup, this time away to Linfield, and he played ten league matches and got on the scoresheet once.

He also won a Setanta Cup medal, playing in the resounding 7-1 final win over Drogheda United, but he was released by Shamrock Rovers and signed for Sligo in November, 2013.

Ledwith has made 46 league appearances over the past two seasons with the Bit O'Red, scoring five times in 2014 and once this term.

Last season was Aidan Friel's first in the league, but the 24-year-old was a defensive rock for Athlone and will relish the opportunity to test his ability against the best strikers in the country.

He played with Strabane Athletic in Tyrone before signing for the midlanders last January, making 17 appearances during their First Division campaign.

Friel has also starred with the Defence Forces representative team, scoring one of Ireland's goals in their historic 3-2 win over world champions Germany at the European championships in Oleron, France, last November.

He was joined on that successful squad by one of Wexford Youths' key defenders in 2015, Lee Grace, while Ricky Fox of Enniscorthy and North End United's Shane Dempsey were also involved.

The arrival of Ledwith and Friel to their new home in the south-east comes in a week where eight more of the First Division-winning squad signed contracts for the 2016 season.

Veteran goalkeeper Graham Doyle will man the posts once again, and he will be joined by Craig McCabe, Ryan Delaney, Peter Higgins, Shane Dunne, Eric Molloy, Andy Mulligan and Conor English.

And, of course, fans' favourite Danny Furlong has also committed to his home club for another season and is sure to come in for lots of close attention as his goalscoring exploits won't have gone unnoticed by the other Premier Division bosses.

Wexford People

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