Tim Clancy has made his first moves in assembling his squad for Drogheda United’s return to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division in 2021, securing the returns of three key players for next season.
Captain Jake Hyland, left back Conor Kane and Mark Doyle, who finished last season as the club’s top goalscorer as the Drogs claimed the First Division title, have all re-signed to the United Park side ahead of the start of the new campaign.
The club announced the return of the players on Monday evening, revealing the signings at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. The news of Doyle’s new contract will be a particular boost to the club, where has has emerged as their most reliable goalscorer and potent attacker over the last two seasons.
Doyle, who turns 22 on Thursday, hit 13 goals in 18 First Division games in a truncated season. The wide forward has now notched 36 goals since linking up with the first team squad in 2016.
“I wanted to sign back because we’ve worked so hard for three seasons now trying to get out of the First Division,” Doyle said upon signing his new deal.
“We fell at the last hurdle last season so we were determined to get up this year and win the title and now I’m dying to get going again in the Premier.”
Club captain Jake Hyland was, alongside Kane and winger Adam Wixted, one of only three players at the club last term that had experienced relegation under Pete Mahon in 2017. Having originally joined the club ahead of the 2016 campaign, the coming season will be Hyland’s sixth season with the club.
The 25-year-old has made 131 appearances for Drogheda in the last five seasons, scoring nine goals, but has suffered a number of lengthy injury layoffs.
“We set out to win the league last season and we achieved that goal as a group so there’s some good continuity in place which I think will stand to us in the Premier Division,” the former Bohemians midfielder said.
“I’m sure Tim will be setting us aims as a group but the main aim for a newly promoted team in any league should be to stay in the league and establish yourselves. Hopefully we can do that this coming season and surprise a few people along the way.
“It was really tough this year without the fans but hopefully winning the league gave people a lift and please god we’ll have fans back in United Park watching Premier Division football next year.”
Kane started every single one of Drogheda’s 19 competitive fixtures in league and cup action in 2020, having become a mainstay in the side since his arrival from St Patrick’s Athletic four years ago.
The left back scored his first goal for Drogheda in a 3-1 win away to Galway United as Drogheda edged closer to the second tier title and promotion last month.