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Ross County complete signing of highly-rated Cliftonville striker as Ronan Hale arrives in Dingwall on three-year contract

By Andrew Henderson

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Ross County have completed the signing of attacker Ronan Hale for an undisclosed fee on a three-year contract.

The 25-year-old is highly rated in Northern Ireland, where he scored 50 goals in 80 games for Cliftonville and lifted last season’s Irish Cup.

Hale had previously spent time in Birmingham City’s set-up between 2016 and 2019, also turning out for Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic in the League of Ireland, and Crusaders and Larne in the NIFL Premiership.

Ronan Hale has signed a three-year contract with Ross County after moving to the Staggies from Cliftonville for an undisclosed fee.
Ronan Hale has signed a three-year contract with Ross County after moving to the Staggies from Cliftonville for an undisclosed fee.

Hale also represented the Republic of Ireland at under-18, under-19 and under-21 level, and reportedly also drew interest from Shaun Maloney’s Wigan Athletic this summer.

County won the race for his signature though, and he now moves to Scotland for the first time where he will compete in Dingwall for a place in the side with Simon Murray, Jordan White, Eamonn Brophy and Alex Samuel.

“He is a goalscorer, very similar to Simon in that he’s all action, a bit of a nuisance,” Staggies manager Don Cowie explained.

“He likes to play on the shoulder of defenders, and he’s got an eye for goal.

“He’s very excited. He’s been to the UK with Birmingham earlier in his career, but he’s got a young family and moved back to be with his family at that time.

“Now he’s more mature, in his mid-20s, and ready to take his career to the next level.

“He feels Ross County is a great platform for that, so I’m really looking forward to working with him.”

County fans will have fond memories of another striker who swapped Cliftonville for the Staggies, Liam Boyce who earned legendary status in Dingwall with 55 goals in 115 appearances across all competitions.

What may not be so well remembered is that it took Boyce a few months to find his feet after arriving in Scotland before he hit what was ultimately blistering form.

Cowie acknowledges that there may be an adjustment period required for Hale to settle in, but he is confident that the striker will have a big role to play for years to come given the length of the 25-year-old’s deal.

“We’ll see how long that takes – from what I’ve seen, he will definitely be an asset for this football club,” Cowie added.

“I know he’s held in high regard in Ireland, so it’s just about him taking that next step in his career and he sees Ross County as the perfect platform to do that.

“The challenge for him will be the other striker options we have, but I’m sure he will back himself to come in and hit the ground running.

“If we need to be slightly patient for him to adapt to full-time football, we’ll certainly do that because this deal isn’t just about the here and now.

“He has signed a long-term contract, so it’s about more than just the next couple of weeks.”

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