Posts Tagged ‘ Graham Rusk ’

Brave Drogs Bow Out In Sweden

Drogheda United bowed out of Europe going down 2-0 to Malmo FF despite a spirited performance.

The Drogs travelled to Sweden full of hope, having held their opponents to a scoreless draw in the first leg but it would be the home side who would go through to a date with Pat Fenlon’s Hibernian.   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.