Posts Tagged ‘ Gary Twigg ’

LOI : Battle For Survival Enters Full Swing

loi

Its been a monumental week in the League Of Ireland with off field antics grabbing the headlines as fans of Waterford United saved the club from the brink of extinction. The transfer window also slammed shut with some teams busier than others. Cork City  were among the most active teams as they shipped out Daryl Kavanagh (St Patrick’s Athletic) and Danny Furlong (Waterford United) while Adam Rundle and Denis Behan left the club.  Shelbourne made three new signings to boost their survival bid , Limerick welcomed two new players while the biggest League Of Ireland transfer saga of the summer came to an end when Salthill Devon’s Enda Curran joined Athlone Town. Continue reading

Wait Is Over As League of Ireland Resumes

LOIAfter a busy off season the League of Ireland makes a highly anticipated return on Friday with many believing this season may well be the most competitive yet. In our second preview ahead of the big kick off Alan Finn highlights the contenders, the pretenders and those who best be ready for a long relegation battle. 

Sligo Rovers

Prediction: Title challenge

Key Player: Lee Lynch

Last Season: Champions

Sligo Rovers should be well capable of putting up a decent defence of their Airtricity League title this season. Jason McGuinness and Mark Quigley are big losses for the champions this year, but Evan McMillan looks to be the ideal replacement for the big centre back while Anthony Elding has arrived from England to take on the goal scoring duties. There will be a number of key players for The Bit O’Red next season, Gavin Peers at the back, Danny Ventre in the middle but I feel anything good attacking wise for the side will involve Lee Lynch who has been a stand out player in Pre-season and I would expect him to build on his impressive 2012 debut season at The Showgrounds. Also keep an eye out for young Liam Martin who has been in flying form in pre-season, with six goals in six games.

St. Patrick’s Athletic

Prediction: Title challenge

Key Player: Chris Forrester

Last Season: 3rd

Having retained the majority of their squad and making a couple of decent acquisitions, Pats should be in for another title challenge this year. Of their new signings, Killian Brennan will certainly be the one to watch this season. Despite coming off the back of a horrid season with Shamrock Rovers, the winger can be the best player in the League on his day and if he gets his head down and works hard, he will prove to be a valuable player for the Saints. Chris Forrester and Jake Carroll, the stand out duo for the club for last season, will also be crucial to any success for Pats this season and you can’t help but feel the best is yet to come from both players.

Shamrock Rovers

Prediction: Title challenge

Key Player: Mark Quigley

Last Season: 4th

As the Shamrock Rovers fans desperately seek to put last season behind them, they certainly look in much better shape to challenge for the title this year. They have been the most active club in the transfer market during the off-season, bringing in players such as James Chambers and PFAI Player of the year nominees  Sean O’Connor, Jason McGuinness and Mark Quigley. Quigley, who won the award in the end, will more than likely be their key player next season, but with so many new players in the Hoops squad, it may take the team time to gel when the League campaign kicks off. Ciaran Kilduff looks set to be Gary Twigg’s replacement up top and he has certainly gotten off to a good start with winning goals against Coleraine and Wexford Youths in the past week.

Derry City

Prediction: Title challenge

Key Player: Rory Patterson

Last Season: 5th

Despite the departure of Stephen McLaughlin to Nottingham Forest, I can see Derry improving on last season’s finish. After finally securing the signature of Mark Griffin following a long, drawn out process, I feel a striking partnership with Rory Patterson has a lot of potential. We saw in last season’s FAI Ford Cup Final what Patterson can do when fully fit and with a promising prospect like Griffin beside him (assuming that is their strike force) then scoring goals should certainly not be a problem for the Candystripes.

Drogheda United

Prediction: Title challenge/European places

Key Player: Eric Foley

Last Season: 2nd

Following a marvellous 2012 campaign, will Drogheda repeat last season’s form? In my opinion, I think they will but with what is likely to be a more competitive League this year, I can’t see them finishing in the top two again. Mick Cooke has done a great job retaining the majority of his squad and has made one stand out signing in the form of Paul O’Conor from UCD. The midfielder will play alongside Eric Foley and if they click together, the Drogs midfield will be a joy to watch in action.

Cork City

Prediction: European places/mid-table

Key Player: Gearoid Morrisey

Last Season: 6th

After a disappointing return to the Premier Division last season, I feel Cork City are another team we will see improvement from this year. Tommy Dunne has been active in the transfer window, bringing in goalscorers such as Daryl Kavanagh and Danny Furlong, an area where they seemed to lack in 2012 but if Kavanagh can link up with Furlong like he did with Danny North and the striker can score goals like he did in the First Division, finding the back of the net shouldn’t be a problem this time around.

Bohemians

Prediction: Mid-table

Key Player: Ryan McEvoy

Last Season: 7th

Despite a very slow start to their last campaign, Bohemians went on to have a decent season in 2012, most notably recording a 4-0 win over Shamrock Rovers before picking up their first ever victory in Tallaght Stadium. Evan McMillan will be the Gypsies biggest loss from last season, but his replacement Stephen Paisley has shown he may just have the same eye for goal as the 26-year-old (in pre-season at least!). Ryan McEvoy caught the eye of many fans around the League last season with impressive performances and outstanding goals and I think he will be Bohs key man this year.

Dundalk

Prediction: Mid-table

Key Player: Kurtis Byrne

Last Season: 11th

New season, new hopes and new expectations for Dundalk. Following a disastrous 2012 campaign, newly appointed manager Stephen Kenny looks like he is already well on his way to changing the Lilywhites fortunes, assembling a decent squad for the year ahead. John Dillon, Kurtis Byrne, Richie Towell, Keith Ward and Mark Rossiter (when fit) could all be fantastic signings for the club if they play to the best of their abilities and Byrne looks like the man they will be relying on for goals up top and he has certainly made a good start to life at Oriel Park as he comes off the back of a decent pre-season.

Limerick

Prediction: Mid-table

Key Player: Rory Gaffney

Last Season: Champions (First Division)

For the first time in almost 20 years, Limerick will be playing in the top flight of Irish football. As they depart their old home of Jackman Park, the newly promoted side begin life in the Premier Division in Thomond Park. Location isn’t the only new change at the club, with ex-Drogheda United man Stuart Taylor stepping into the world of management for the first time, bringing with him some new faces to the club such as Robbie Williams on loan from Plymouth Argyle, Danny Galbraith from Hibernian and Belgian striker Axel Bossekota. Limerick’s progress will be an interesting one to watch, I can see them staying up as they appear destined for a mid table finish.

Bray Wanderers

Prediction: mid-table/relegation zone

Key Player: Kieran Marty Waters

Last Season: 10th

Pat Devlin goes into 2013 with mostly the same squad as last season, but one signing could make all the difference for his side this year – Gary Dempsey. I can see Bray lingering around the bottom half of the table this season, but they should have enough quality about to just keep their heads above water. As well as Dempsey, Jason Byrne, Darren Quigley and Kieran Marty Waters will be vital to Bray’s season.

Shelbourne

Prediction: Relegation zone

Key Player: Philly Hughes

Last Season: 8th

If Pre-season is anything to go by suspensions could be a big worry for Shelbourne this year. Kevin Dawson’s move to Yeovil Town is a major loss for the club and they have failed to fill the gsping hole in their midfield during the off season. I don’t have a lot of hope for Shels this season and I think they are destined for the bottom two, most likely the play-off spot.

UCD

Prediction: Relegation zone

Key Player: Robert Creevy

Last Season: 9th

Since last summer, UCD have lost players of the standard of Paul Corry, Paul O’Conor, Graham Rusk and Ciaran Nangle. Personally, I find it difficult to have any faith in them to escape relegation this season and  unfortunately for the Students they look most likely to suffer the dreaded drop into the First Division.

 

Rovers And Pats Busy As LOI Transfer Window Gets Into Full Swing

Rover and Out: Killian Brennan

The League of Ireland transfer season is in full swing as teams try to snap up the best available talent ahead of next March. For many teams the emphasis is on securing much of their current squad but for the others it’s about attracting the league’s finest.

Already a number of significant deals have took place, with Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic among the most active thus far.

Shamrock Rovers have added PFAI player of the year Mark Quigley and fellow nominee Jason McGuinness from league champions Sligo Rovers. Sean O’Connor has moved from Pats to Rovers ensuring new manager Trevor Croly now possesses all four PFAI nominees within his squad. James Chambers has also followed Croly and O’Connor in making the move from Pats to Rovers.

The Hoops have also re-signed Shane Robinson, who returns to the league following a stint in Finland with Haka. Shane McFaul has also returned from Scandinavia with his ex Haka teammate, opting to join Pats instead. Scottish duo Gary Twigg and Craig Sives have left Rovers after enjoying three successful years with the club.

Pats have been busy thus far, confirming the signatures of Killian Brennan, Sean Gannon (Both Rovers) and Conan Byrne (Shelbourne). The Saints have also re-signed eight players from last year, with potent goal poacher Christy Fagan among them. Liam Buckley will be delighted that a number of players have spurned the opportunity to jump ship with Croly. Interestingly enough the Saints have yet to sign a goalkeeper despite having both Brendan Clarke and Barry Murphy, two of the league’s finest on their books last term.

Last season’s surprise package Drogheda United have been quick to bolster their ranks by securing the signing of UCD duo Graham Rusk and Paul O’Conor. The Drogs have also secured the services of Gary O’Neill from Rovers while David Cassidy joins from Shelbourne.

It’s been fairly quiet in the North West as champions Sligo have yet to announce any new signings although they have re-signed some key players from 2012. They will be rocked by the departure of both Quigley and McGuinness to Rovers.

Derry City have only added Paddy Kavanagh (Shelbourne) to their ranks so far but Declan Devine will be buoyed by the fact he will retain much of his FAI Cup winning squad next term.

Cork City have secured the services of forgotten man Daryl Kavanagh (Shamrock Rovers) while first division joint top scorer Danny Furlong has joined from Wexford Youths.

Bohemians, Bray Wanderers, Dundalk, Shelbourne and UCD have yet to announce any new signings but have tied down some key players from last term.

Bohs will find it difficult to replace Kevin Feely who has joined Championship side Charlton Athletic after impressing on trial.

New boys Limerick have likewise yet to announce any new signings as they prioritise filling the managerial void left by the departed Pat Scully.

We have yet to hit December but already a number of clubs have been busy however such is the market a large number of players still remain without a club and are currently training at the PFAI camp.

And who knows what may occur when the English transfer window opens in January as some contracted players may well find themselves following in the footsteps of Keith Fahey, Enda Stevens and co.

Five Players Who Could Replace Gary Twigg

Fresh from completing his first two deals as Shamrock Rovers manager, Trevor Croly’s main aim now will be to do what many think is not possible, replace Gary Twigg.

Hoops legend Twigg has opted to move north to join Portadown in an attempt to be closer to his family, leaving behind a legacy of one of the greatest strikers ever to grace the national league. His potent goal threat and predatory instincts were second to none. The Scottish striker will forever be revered by the Hoops faithful, having scored a staggering 81 goals in 119 games over his three year tenure at the club.

After a disappointing fourth place finished this season Rovers will be keen to regain their title come March. But if they are to have any chance of doing so they must replace last season’s top scorer Twigg, a task that is much easier said than done.

Here Irish News Review considers five possible replacements for the Glaswegian.

Rory Patterson

Cup final hero Patterson may well be the man to replace Twigg. The Strabane native enjoyed a blistering start to his Derry City career last year, bagging a hat trick on his debut. Derry were a side in transition this year but Declan Devine got the best out of his men. Patterson’s form suffered shortly after due to injury, but the ex Linfield man grabbed two vital goals in the FAI cup final which brought the cup north at the expense of St Patricks Athletic. His talents are well regarded within the league and he remains contracted to the Candystripes for 2013. But with Rovers riches could the man who scored 107 goals in 126 appearances for FC United of Manchester be the man to bring the title back to Tallaght?

Christy Fagan

Ex Manchester United youngster Christy Fagan is without a doubt one of the best strikers in the league, having proved that during spells with Bohemians and St Patricks Athletic, where he netted 12 league goals last term. The Saints will be hoping Fagan won’t follow Croly and James Chambers in jumping ship to Rovers. But with Fagan on the PFAI transfer list anything is possible. Pats must act swiftly to secure their man or risk losing him to their fierce rivals.

Raffaele Cretaro

The Tubbercurry Tornado has spent most of his career at Sligo Rovers, helping guide The Bit O’Red to their monumental league success this year. Cretaro may well choose to remain in the North West and help Ian Baraclough’s men in their attempt to reach the Champions League. But a return to Dublin, where he previously spent time at Bohemians, may tempt him. Any move would see him link up with ex teammate Jason McGuinness, who opted to make the move from Sligo this week. Cretaro’s future is certainly up in the air and he like Fagan is also available on a free transfer. Although if Croly is looking for a long term replacement he may have to look elsewhere.

Mark Quigley

Ten goal Quigley, undoubtedly one of the best players in the league will always be a target for the top clubs. Croly may well be able to persuade the Dubliner to make a return to Rovers, having spent time there in 2005. But with such potential Rovers may find themselves fighting for Quigley’s signature against English and Scottish opposition as Millwall may be keen to bring Quigley back to the Den on a free transfer. However Quigley would be the perfect replacement for Twigg and any return to Tallaght could be the start of heralding the era of a new Rovers legend.

Other

Rovers could pursue alternative avenues in their search to replace Twigg. His replacement may already be at the club but it remains to be seen whether the likes of Gary O’Neill, Ciaran Kilduff or Tommy Stewart can emerge from his shadows. Much hope has been placed on the shoulders of young Aaron Greene who may thrive if given the opportunity but ultimately Croly may choose to entirely revamp his frontline.

Other possibilities could be Drogheda United star Declan O’Brien but it is highly doubtful he will leave the Boynesiders following the great season they have had.

Rovers may look to the first division for their replacement, crazy as it sounds. Danny Furlong, Seanie Maguire and Kevin McHugh all topped the goalscoring charts with 13 goals each. A move for Furlong, who had a remarkable season despite personal tragedy, and Maguire, regarded as the next big thing in League of Ireland may not be too far from reality.

Or maybe Croly will use his contacts elsewhere and we may see a foreign import drafted in to replace Rovers best ever foreign player.

 

Crucial Decisions Wrapped Up As LOI Nears Final Whistle

Drogheda United –v- Sligo Rovers    7:05

After capturing the league title last week, Sligo Rovers go to Hunky Dory’s Park to take on Drogheda United.

After 28 games Sligo Rovers finally placed their hands on their first league title since 1977. A hard fought and perhaps controversial 3-2 win over St Patrick’s Athletic was enough to secure the championship for Ian Baraclough and his side. Drogheda United head into this game looking to be the first side to get one over on the newly crowned champions and given the season they have enjoyed they may well catch Sligo out if the Bit O’Red are still in celebratory mode.

Prediction: Draw

Bray Wanderers –v- Bohemian FC    7:45

Bray Wanderers play host to Bohemian FC at Carlisle Grounds.

After losing 3-1 to Shamrock Rovers, Bray Wanderers will look to end this difficult season on a high. They take on a Bohemian side looking for three points after a 2-2 draw with bottom placed side Dundalk.

Prediction: Away win

Cork City –v- Dundalk    7:45

Bottom side Dundalk travel south to take on Cork City at Turner’s Cross.

After the 3-2 defeat last week at the hands of Shelbourne, Cork City will head into this final home game with an aim to pleasing their support. Dundalk however will be fully focused on their relegation play off, and this game is a good opportunity for players to earn places.

Prediction: Home win

Derry City –v- St Patrick’s Athletic    7:45

In a preview of the FAI Cup final fifth placed Derry City take on second placed St Patrick’s Athletic at the Brandywell.

Both sides will be looking to get the psychological advantage, as-well as looking for ways to expose weaknesses that can be taken advantage of next month. Pat’s will be disappointed that there is nothing to play for in terms of the league. But with a trophy left to fight for players will be aiming to play their way into the starting eleven.

Prediction: Away win

Shamrock Rovers –v- UCD    7:45

In their final home game of the season Shamrock Rovers play host to UCD , in a game that will mark the end of Gary Twigg’s career in the famous Hoops jersey. The Scottish striker is set to depart Tallaght Stadium and join an Irish league side in order to be closer to his family.

After a mixed season that has seen them lose their status as champions, Shamrock Rovers will be looking to end the season on a high. The Dublin side will be intent on showing their rivals that they are still a force to reckoned with and will be next season. After surviving relegation, UCD will be planning to keep the momentum  they have gained up heading into the home stretch.

Prediction: Home win

Twigg Set To Depart Rovers

Shamrock Rovers have confirmed that striker Gary Twigg will leave the club at the end of the current season.

Former Brechin City star Twigg will be out of contract after the game against Sligo Rovers on October 26 and will not sign a new deal with the club. The Scottish striker expects to sign for an Irish League club when he leaves the Hoops.

Friday night will be Twigg’s last game at Tallaght Stadium – a venue in which he scored the first ever goal. And the club is encouraging all Rovers fans to come along on the night to give him a warm Rovers send off.

Speaking ahead of his final home game for the Hoops, Gary said: “I want to thank everyone at the club, the manager who brought me in, and those I’ve played under this season, for everything they have done for me over the past four seasons. And I especially want to thank the fans, they have been brilliant to me and I couldn’t have achieved what I did at the club without them.

“I also want the fans to know that I am only leaving to be nearer my family. I don’t want to leave the club and wouldn’t be if it was only a football decision, but it isn’t. My family is the most important thing to me and I had to make this decision for their sake. I loved played for Rovers and have great memories from my time here.”
Twigg’s departure had been on the horizon for some time after the prolific hitman was linked to several top Scottish clubs such as Aberdeen and Hibernian.
The news comes as a further blow to the Hoops who have had a torrid season both at home and on the European front.

Old Rivals Do Battle As Hoops Travel Cross City To Face Shels

Shelbourne play host to Shamrock Rovers tomorrow night as the League of Ireland resumes following a brief break. 

Shels will be looking to hit the ground running and a Dublin derby is just the tonic to set the tone for the rest of the season.   

Shelbourne’s last outing was away to Derry City and saw the Dublin side come away with a well-deserved 0-1 win, the goal scored by  supreme goal-poacher, Philly Hughes in the 71st minute. Unfortunately, that win came at a cost with both Glenn Cronin and Philly Gorman picking up bad injuries.
 
Shamrock Rovers last league outing was a hard fought 1-1 draw at home to Cork City – their goal coming from their top-scorer, Gary Twigg.
 
Going into this game, the league table shows last year’s League Champions just two points ahead of the Drumcondra club, so apart from the bragging rights, the three points on offer at this contest are of the utmost importance. It should be a great game!
 
Shelbourne manager Alan Mathews gave his views on the away win to Derry City “We had a very good win in Derry before the break. It took a very good performance by us to get the three points. Our performance in Derry had many positive aspects to it; the players worked really hard for each other and played some very good football.”
 
On this week’s game with Shamrock Rovers, he commented “Shamrock Rovers are the reigning Champions and I believe they are the team most likely to win the League again this season. They have the strongest squad in the League with quality and competition for every position on the pitch. “
 
“We go into the game with confidence and a positive attitude. We know a good performance will be required to achieve the three points on offer, but I firmly believe that we have the players to take on any side this season.”
 
Shelbourne go into this game with Glenn Cronin missing through suspension. A decision on Philly Gorman’s availability for selection will not be taken until match day, following the ankle injury he received in Derry. On the plus side, both Lorcan Fitzgerald and Stephen Hurley have been back in full training for some weeks now and will come into the reckoning.