Mayo native David Cawley has signed a one-year contract extension with Sligo Rovers. Photo: Sportsfile

Mayo man signs contract extension with Sligo Rovers

Sligo Rovers announced today that midfielder David Cawley has signed a one-year contract extension today, keeping him at The Showgrounds until at least the end of the 2023 League of Ireland season.

Cawley is the Bit o' Red's all-time record European appearance holder and captained the side in the 2022 European campaign during the summer.

Cawley, from Ballina, will go into his 10th season at the club next year during two different spells. His first spell was from 2012 to the end of 2015, and he re-signed before the 2018 season until now.

Between those two spells he has made more than 250 appearances for Rovers, scoring over 25 goals, making him an important part of the club and an influential player to the younger members of the Bit o’ Red squad throughout his time here.

Cawley underwent a minor procedure on his hip before the end of the season to ensure a faster recovery well in time for a return to training when the squad assembles in January.

Manager John Russell said he was delighted to retain Cawley for another year. He told the Sligo Rovers website: “David has been a brilliant player for this club. He is now moving into his 10th season with Sligo Rovers and he is still as hungry as ever to be successful. He has won trophies throughout his career and understands what it takes to win matches. He is an intelligent footballer who will play a big part both on and off the pitch with his quality and in setting standards around the club. I feel he will be like a new signing after his recent operation and I’m delighted he has re-signed for 2023.”

In 2012, Cawley was a key part of the club’s SSE Airtricity Premier Division title win under then manager Ian Baraclough. Cawley signed for the Bit o’ Red at the start of that season from Ipswich Town, where he signed as a teenager from his hometown club, Ballina Town.

Cawley also played an important role in Rovers' 2013 FAI Cup-winning season as well as the Setanta Sports Cup win in 2014.

The midfielder said he was thrilled to sign an extension with the club. “I am going into my 10th season here at Rovers and I have loved every minute of it, with plenty of ups and downs. I have managed to win a league, an FAI Cup and a Setanta Sports Cup, and captaining the club in the last few years has been a big honour for me.

“Our European run a few months back was something else. It was great to see a buzz like that at The Showgrounds and it reminded me of the time we won the league 10 years ago. Special moments like that don’t come around too often.”

Cawley added: “We were disappointed to miss out on Europe for next season but we aim to get back there next year and have a better run in the cup. We are due a good cup run and hopefully make it to the Aviva again.

“From the players we have already and the young lads coming through, I have no doubt the future is bright. Add to that the new lads coming in that John has signed and we have a right good group.

“The intensity John and Ryan have brought to training since they’ve been appointed has been brilliant and something I believe as a player is how it should be. You should train as you intend to play and they both demand that, which really helps the squad and the young lads develop. I am looking forward to playing under John again next season.”

The Ballina man will return to pre-season training in January with his fellow Rovers’ team-mates, who met up this past week for the first time since the end of the 2022 season. Cawley’s signing means that John Russell now has 18 professionals signed for 2023.


Meanwhile, in what was a busy day for the club, Sligo Rovers has lodged a planning application with Sligo County Council for the first phase of its Master Plan.

The application was prepared by Rhatigan Architects and includes the redevelopment of The Showgrounds to exceed the minimum requirements of a UEFA Category 3 stadium, achieved as follows:

- Redevelopment into be an all-seated stadium with a capacity in excess of 6,100 seats

- Construction of a new spectator stand at the Church Hill Road End (approximately 1,370 seats)

- Construction of a new spectator stand in place of the current Jinks Avenue Stand (approximately 2,060 seats)

- Minor alterations to the Tracey Avenue Stand, including the erection of a TV gantry at the rear of the stand and the provision of new toilets beneath

- Provision of a cantilevered roof to the existing Pet Stop End

- Provision of additional turnstiles at the rear of the new Jinks Avenue Stand for away supporters

- Upgrade of the car parking facilities on site, including resurfacing, line marking and lighting

- Upgrade of the playing surface to a higher specification whilst enlarging the pitch towards Church Hill Road to meet UEFA Category 3 pitch size standards


Enthused by the planning application, Sligo Rovers chairman Tommy Higgins said it was a 'great day' for the club.

He stated: “In order to stay competitive in the Premier Division, we have to bring more income into the club and The Showgrounds redevelopment is a vital part of our plans.”

The new stands will accommodate multipurpose spaces, match day/night catering facilities, shop, gym, corporate and sponsor facilities, offices and meeting rooms, new media centre, changing rooms to serve the existing astro pitch, toilets and ancillary spaces.

The stands have been designed with a focus on capturing the special match night atmosphere in The Showgrounds, with the three new roofs joined to enhance the feeling of enclosure and to assist in capturing and containing the noise of the supporters.

Externally, the exposed concrete structure will provide a strong new aesthetic to the grounds as fans enter via Church Hill Road.

Pending receipt of planning permission in early 2023, the next step for the club will be to pursue various funding streams to bring the project to the next stage, which will include detail design and tendering.

The club would like to thank Rhatigan Architects and their team for their work to date on this project.