Exciting times for St. Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers

As what promises to be the most competitive League of Ireland season in year’s beckons, Liam Buckley will be hoping to finally achieve some silverware of note with his new-look Saint Patrick’s Athletic squad.

The loss of reliable centurion Gary Rogers threatened to be a major impediment for 2012. But the acquisitions of Brendan Clarke and Barry Murphy will propagate an intriguing battle for the No. 1 jersey for the season ahead.

Evan McMillan and Anto Murphy may have departed in the close season, but this is counter-balanced by astute signings such as Pat Flynn and Kenny Browne. The signing of Mark Rossiter has proven somewhat of a coup for Buckley, a talented stalwart who will combine well with last year’s central defensive pairing of Ian Bermingham and Conor Kenna.

A youthful revolution has swept through the Pat’s midfield this year. Darren Meenan, Greg Bolger and Chris Forrester have all been signed, which complements the experienced duo of John Russell and James Chambers nicely. Indeed, Sean O’Connor remains the only survivor from last season’s Saints midfield quartet.

Last season’s prolific strike pairing of Danny North and Dave McMillan was always going to be difficult to replicate. But Buckley can call on two of the most promising young goal-poachers to emerge in the league in the form of Christy Fagan and Ian Daly to fill the void. A repeat of last season’s form from Fagan as well as a solid partnership with Daly is needed to emulate the departing duo.

St. Pat's taking on Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park last season Image top via D. Sideburns on Flickr

Meanwhile, reigning league champions Shamrock Rovers have a new manager with Stephen Kenny coming in from Derry City to replace newly appointed Northern Ireland manager Michael O’Neill. With Rovers last season becoming the first ever Irish side to make the group stages of a European competition, there will be pressure on Stephen Kenny to succeed.

There have also been changes to the squad with Enda Stevens making the move to Aston Villa and Karl Sheppard joining Championship side Reading. New signings for Rovers include striker Daryl Kavanagh from St. Pat’s, defender Graham Gartland from St. Johnstone and winger Killian Brennan from Bohemians.

“I’m delighted to have signed with Stephen Kenny at a club like Rovers. But at the same time I’m disappointed to leave Bohs. I have had a great time during my spell there,” said Brennan on joining Rovers.

Despite rumoured interest from Pat Fenlon’s Hibs, hoops fans will be relieved that leading marksman Gary Twigg remains at the club for the coming season. The Glaswegian was Rovers top scorer with 15 goals last season and is sure to be the focal point of next season’s attack.

Despite a rejuvenated Pat’s squad taking to the field for 2012, a star-studded Rovers team will invariably be favourites to add to their record league title haul of 17 come the end of October.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *