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Branagan Quickly Finds a New Home

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Vanarama National League North club Chorley have announced the signing of goalkeeper Ritchie Branagan following his release from National League side Macclesfield Town.

The 25-year-old arrives as loanee Shaun Rowley returns to Shrewsbury Town following the completion of his three-month spell.

Twenty-year-old Rowley played nine games for the Magpies as emergency cover following the loss of Sam Ashton to a season-ending injury.

He collected four clean-sheets, five wins and only conceding 8 goals during his spell with Chorley.

The club did have the option of extending Rowley’s loan but any new deal with Shrewsbury would have included a 24-hour recall clause.

Had the loan option been taken and this clause then triggered it would he left the club in a very difficult position, so the management team opted to make a permanent signing and welcome Branagan back to Victory Park.

The experienced custodian returns having played for the Magpies during a loan spell from Bury in March 2010, when he played five times for then-manager Steve Waywell in the NPL First Division North.

At the tender age of 19, in what were his first competitive senior games, he recorded back-back clean sheets in his first two games (both goalless draws) before the team went on to win two and lose one prior to his return to Bury.

The son of Bolton Wanderers legend Keith, Ritchie came through the youth system at the Reebok before joining Bury where he made three first-team appearances and picked up a Republic of Ireland under-21 cap, appearing against Cyprus in 2011.

On his release from the Shakers in the summer of 2012 he signed for the pre-`Class of 92` Salford City where his performances caught the eye of National League side Macclesfield and he joined the Moss Rose club in the summer of 2013.

During his majority of his three-and-a-half years with the Silkmen he has been a regular in the first-team squad and was given the number one shirt at the start of this season and played a total of nineteen first team games for the club.

However, due to limited opportunities this season, he had a month-long loan spell at Ashton United in November and was released by mutual consent following the opening of the January transfer window.

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