Glenavon Rhys Marshall signs for Shamrock Rovers after 'acceptable' fee agreed
Glenavon will lose star man Rhys Marshall next week when the local lad moves to the League of Ireland in a bumper move worth up to £30,000.
The 24-year-old, who came through the Lurgan Blues' academy, will join Shamrock Rovers' pre-season training on Monday after playing his final game for Glenavon against Coleraine in the Irish Cup on Saturday.
With Marshall's contract due to expire in the summer, he always remained open that he was considering his options and was keen to move into full-time football.
He had been the subject of interest from both Linfield and Larne but Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton has revealed that he had no intention of joining another Irish League side.
With the club facing the prospect of losing arguably their top player for nothing in a few months time, Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer said they had received a 'sensible and acceptable' offer, understood to be worth up to £30,000.
Marshall, primarily a right-back, has been playing predominantly in midfield this season and had even been tipped with the potential to become the best central player in the division by manager Hamilton.
However, after making what will be his 261st appearance for Glenavon on Saturday, Marshall will move to the League of Ireland runners-up.
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“Rhys has consistently told both myself and the chairman that he would be leaving at the end of this season in the hope of finding full time football in another league," boss Gary Hamilton told the club website.
"He had stressed that whilst he would not sign an extension to his current Glenavon contract he had no wish to join another Irish League club
“We had offered him an enhanced four year contract back in August which included a testimonial in the final year. Unfortunately Rhys turned it down."
Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley is determined to close the 11 point gap to Dundalk and is hopeful that Marshall's signature represents a significant step forward.
“Rhys fits what we do here and he has lots of good attributes," he said.
"He’s young and hungry and he’s played a lot of games for someone so young. (We) have watched him for quite some time and we obviously made contact with the club to see if a deal could be done and thankfully it could be.
"I’m delighted to get him in. He was really keen as soon as we met him to make it happen. He can’t wait to get started and we’re looking forward to getting him in. He can play in a number of positions – right back, centre back, centre midfield and I’ve seen him play left-back as well. That’s something we look at when we’re signing players. He strengthens us as a team and a squad so it was a no brainer.”
Marshall has widely been regarded as one of the best right-backs in the Irish League since breaking into Glenavon's first team as a teenager. Due to his long association with the club, it is no surprise chairman Teer is open to facilitating a return in the future.
“The board is naturally very disappointed at losing a player of the calibre of Rhys," he said.
"However the directors fully appreciated his long-term ambition to enter full time football and the move to the League of Ireland and Shamrock Rovers at the age of 24 provides him with the perfect opportunity to do so. Rhys will go with the very best wishes of everyone at Glenavon. He has given our club outstanding service and is well deserving of a wonderful send-off on Saturday.”
There's no doubting Marshall's departure is another blow to Glenavon, who have lost leading lights Mark Sykes, Bobby Burns and Joel Cooper in recent windows. While attacking options Danny Purkis, Greg Moorhouse and Dylan Davidson and Conan Byrne have signed this window, Marshall's departure leaves the squad short of options at both right-back and central midfield.
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