Pierce Sweeney, then in his sixth season playing for Exeter City, appeared in 43 league matches as the club won promotion in 2021/22. At the time of the club’s success Pierce had played around 270 first-team games either side of the briefest of departures to Swindon Town.
Growing up in Bray, County Wicklow Pierce played soccer, Gaelic football and hurling until he was 11. He then concentrated on soccer and played for Belvedere, a leading Dublin junior club, for four years before switching to play adult football with Bray Wanderers of the League of Ireland. He made his first-team debut away to St Patrick’s Athletic in early 2012 and went on to make a dozen appearances that season. This earned him a move to Reading before the season was over and, playing alongside several other Irish players at the club, he helped Reading win the 2013/14 U21 Premier League Cup. But, ultimately, Pierce failed to make the first-team at Reading and, following his release, signed for Exeter City in July 2016 after a recommendation by former Exeter City manager - and then head of Reading’s academy - Eamonn Dolan shortly before his death. Pierce’s initial deal was supported by the 1931 Fund contributing £15,000 towards the defender’s wages.
Pierce had a very successful first season at the club playing 37 times in all competitions including the May 2017 play-off final defeat to Blackpool. It was a similar story in 2017/18 as Pierce made another 49 league and cup appearances as the Grecians reached another play-off final only to lose to Coventry City. Then, after remaining in the first team, and making a further 94 appearances in all competitions, Pierce found himself on the losing side at Wembley again as City were defeated by Northampton Town in June 2020.
With a further 42 appearances under his belt, Pierce reached the end of 2020/21 having played 222 league and cup games during his five seasons at St James Park. He had also scored seventeen goals in the league, one in the FA Cup and one in the League Cup. But, at this point Pierce, declined Exeter’s offer of a new contract and signed a two-year deal with Swindon Town.
Subsequently, in a rapid about turn, Pierce effectively tore up his contract at the County Ground and returned to Exeter the following month. Soon agreeing a two-year contract, he immediately re-established himself in the team as City headed towards promotion. Reaching his 250th game for the Grecians against Hartlepool on 29 January 2022, Pierce started 42 league games (with one appearance from the bench) as Exeter finished runners-up in League 2. At the end of the season he won three awards: Exeter City Community Trust PFA in the Community Champion; East Devon Grecians Player of the Year; Norwegian Grecians "Dom Sanders Memorial Tankard.
Pierce then continued to feature regularly in League One in 2022/23 and made his 300th appearance for the Grecians against Forest Green Rovers on 14 January 2023 before signing a contract extension to 2026.
League 280 (including 8 play-offs); Cups 40 (320)