If Paul Cook isn’t already in line for the freedom of the sleepy borough of Sligo, he might be after this evening.
The popular former Wolves midfielder will be hailed a hero all over again in a corner of Ireland if his side qualify for Europe under his management for the second time in three seasons.
A win and possibly a draw in their final FAI premier division game of the season, at home to St Patricks Athletic tonight, would see Sligo Rovers finish third and return to Europa League combat.
Already this season, Cook has steered the club to their first silverware for 12 years in the shape of the League Of Ireland Cup and to the final of the FAI Cup on November 14.
Sligo, who were beaten 3-2 on aggregate by Albanian club Vllaznia Shkodër when the 43-year-old Liverpudlian took them into Europe on the strength of their League finish in 2008, are one place and four points behind Bohemians, with Shamrock Rovers leading the table by two points.
And the club’s growth has recently been underlined by the appointment of former UCD and St Pat’s player Packie Lynch as their first general manager.
“Our status has been earned on the efforts of countless volunteers who have served us with distinction over the years,” said Sligo chairman Dermot Kelly.
“But we have developed beyond the capacity of people contributing what spare time they have. Any club professing to be ambitious need professional input on and off the field and this appointment will hopefully see us challenging at the top of the table next season.”
Such is the scope of the job that Lynch is leaving his post as regional director with Bank of Scotland (Ireland) to take it up.
Cook played for Coventry, Tranmere, Stockport, Burnley, Wigan (on loan) and Accrington after calling time early in 1994-95 on a Molineux career of 214 senior appearances.
He previously had a short spell as manager of Southport and walked out on Sligo early last year following an argument over budgets, only to soon return.
Among his predecessors in charge of the club are Lawrie Sanchez and Steve Cotterill while Everton’s Seamus Coleman is a former player there.