Former Ireland international defender Stephen O’Halloran has returned to Stockport County after two seasons with Salford City.
Manager James Gannon says he is delighted with the return of the popular left-sided defender to Edgeley Park.
James said: “As I mentioned in my comments regarding the signing of Matty Warburton, we have to consider carefully the types of people, professionals and players we want to join us. We have nothing to fear in that regard with Stephen. I was inundated with so many glowing references from people at all levels within Edgeley Park about the type of personality and character that Stephen has. It is clear that Stephen left a lasting impression on many who worked with him during his last spell at County and they couldn’t speak highly enough of him. As a player I have also been impressed with Stephen’s strong finish to the season at Salford and especially his solid performance in the playoff match against Halifax.
“We have been looking to add an experienced left-footed central defender to the team and Stephen was high on that short list. The last time I saw him playing for County in central defence he was outstanding and I feel he offers great experience, footballing quality, and natural balance to the other two contracted central defenders Michael Clarke and Chris Smalley. Michael and Chris formed a strong partnership and we have great trust in them especially after their first full seasons at this level ended with the team having one of the best defensive records in the division. The addition of Stephen provides the option of both quality and balance that will keep the competition sharp for any the two man central defensive pair.
“Another important consideration was also the the important tactical option of a three man central defence which became increasingly important for us in gaining tactical advantage against certain teams over the last 18 months. The use of tactical variations of 352 or 3412 is becoming more and more prevalent at this level and we expect almost half the teams in the division to use these types of systems regularly. Last season we successfully ‘matched up’ with teams like Chorley, Brackley and Curzon Ashton to gain important wins. And with full time sides like York City, Harrogate and Nuneaton all using this system previously we feel that having the players and tactical understanding of this system will be important in many matches.
“Stephen has played previously in such systems at County under Alan Lord and given his overall defensive experience and qualities displayed at left back and left centre back we expect him to be comfortable as a left side defender in a three man defence in both phases of matches – defensive and the development of play.”
Stephen began his professional career in the Premiership with Aston Villa, earning two caps for the Republic of Ireland.
Following two serious knee injuries during his time at Villa, Stephen moved on to Coventry City in 2010.
After spells at Carlisle United and Nuneaton, Stephen joined the Hatters under Ian Bogie and stayed for two seasons, scoring one goal in 78 appearances, before being released by Neil Young to join Salford City in 2015.
Stephen won promotion to the Conference North in his first season with the Ammies, making 77 appearances, including both legs of the Play Off semi final last season against Halifax.
He’s also a qualified physiotherapist having graduated from the University of Salford in 2016.