Trevor Croly faces into his first home league game in charge of the Hoops with his former employes St Patrick’s Athletic, providing the opposition. But there is little sense of this game being a first and that debut pressure will already have passed across Croly’s bows.
The Hoops have already established some decent form in the competitive pre-season with three wins and a defeat in their four Setanta Cup games and Croly has already been through a white hot night at Tallaght when seeing his side win comprehensively when Linfield came visiting last week.
Last weekend saw Rovers make their first league outing of the season in a scoreless draw away to a Dundalk side newly helmed by former Rovers boss, Stephen Kenny. It was perhaps another occasion when the off-field sub-plot threatened to become the main story but in truth Friday’s game at Oriel Park was all about the football.
Mark Quigley was missing from the Shamrock Rovers line-up that night with a calf problem that also marks him out as a serious doubt for the game against St Pats. Apart from that, Croly has a fully fit and available squad to choose from.
Speaking before the game Croly said, “It is great to be back at home for this game – our first league game at Tallaght Stadium this season. We’re very much looking forward to the tie and to this weekend in general, as we take on Bohs on Monday. I expect a big crowd in Tallaght and the fans to be right behind the players during the game. We’ve had all big games so far, and this weekend sees more of the same; it should be a good match.”
ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
St Patrick’s Athletic started their league campaign with a valuable 1-0 win at home to last season’s surprise package Drogheda United. Shane McFaul got the goal that won Pats the points and manager Liam Buckley will know that another three points against Shamrock Rovers would mark his side out as early candidates for the title.
Having lost some key players over the winter - including James Chambers and Sean O’Connor to Shamrock Rovers - Buckley is in the process of bedding in his replacements. It’s a process that should be aided by the fact that the team as a whole are performing in exactly the same style as 2012.
Greg Bolger looks to have been appointed the successor to James Chambers in the role as central anchorman while Conan Byrne, signed from Shelbourne, has already impressed in the right wing slot occupied by O’Connor last term. Another key man in Buckley’s early plans has been former Hoop Killian Brennan who has earned considerable praise for his performances so far.
A lot has been made of the need for St Pats to add a ruthless steak to their personality, a valid point for a team that so often dominated space and possession in 2012 without always coming away with the points their efforts might have merited. Facing a Shamrock Rovers side so holy tipped to challenge for the title is an early test for Liam Buckley’s men and should they come out the far end with three points they might change the attitudes of a lot of people.
Buckley will be without goalkeeper David Ryan who joined from Limerick over the winter and will also have to plan without the suspended Stephen Maher.
Referee: Paul Tuite.
St Patrick’s Athletic won two and drew one of the three league games between these sides last year. This included a 5-1 thumping of the Hoops at Richmond Park last April.
St Pats have not won a league game at Tallaght Stadium since 16 March 2010 when goals from Ian Bermingham and Vinny Faherty helped them to a 2-0 win.
Last season St Pats only lost twice away from home in the league and both of those defeats came in the last three games of the league season - away to Sligo Rovers (2-3) and away to Derry City (1-2).
Shamrock Rovers 10/11; Draw 9/4; At Pats Ath 3/1.
A draw 1-1.
Doubtful: Mark Quigley (calf), Pat Sullivan (neck).
St Patrick’s Ath
Injured: Dave Ryan (hand).
Suspended: Stephen Maher.
Simon O'Gorman began reporting for Extratime in 2010. He remembers Milltown and Flower Lodge and, back in the mists of time, saw Diego Maradona play at Lansdowne Road. He now lives in Co Kildare and reports on Shamrock Rovers among others. Simon can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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