Saturday, 25 February 2012

The 2012 Squad

So it seems like the squad has now been fully assembled and I can't see anymore signings in the next week so here is a run through what we think so far:

Oscar Jannson: The on loan Spurs youngster has impressed in his performances to doubt and although he hasn't been tested much in terms of shot stopping he certainly looks like a guy who commands his box, comes for crosses and looks like a safe pair of hands. His constant communication with the back four is evident and he is always available to receive back passes from his back four. His positional sense in realtion to the back four is superb and I think he could be a real hit with Rovers fans and a great addition to the squad.

Reyaad Pieterse: Seems set to be signing after impressing against us for the Nike Academy during our week in England. Excellent reports about the promising young South African but we haven't seen him first hand yet. Work permit issues may scuper a deal but hopefully this won't be the case.

Conor Winn: Another youngster who was trust in at the deep end last season for dismal Galway United and although he performed well against us in Terryland he made a number of mistakes costing goals but the 19 year old has impressed enough to earn a contract and will surely improve working with goalkeeping coach Stephen O'Brien and Oscar Jannson, won't be afirst team regular but maybe one for the future.

Kerrea Gilbert: Quick, strong and an attacking full back true to the Stephen Kenny style, troubled career to date but hopefully a fresh start will see a new Kerrea and we can see his potential finally fulfilled. Expect overlaps galore when Kerrea plays.

Sean Gannon: Looking more impressive everytime I see him in action. Needs to get himself to the gym to catch up physically but the youngster will be pushing Gilbert all the way for first team selection this season and we can expect big things from Sean in the future.

Conor Powell: Probably the best attacking full back in the league two seasons ago but moves to Colchester and Sligo didn't work out well and with lack of games and confidence Powell looks a shadow of his former self. Probably our worst position in terms of strength in depth so Powell needs to improve soon but has shown enough in the past to suggest he can be an important player for us.

Craig Sives: Last seasons player of the year and probably the best defender in the league but the question is can he stay injury free for the season. Unfortunately he probably won't and luckily we have cover in this position, a lack of pace his really his only flaw, would also like to see him add more goals this season but first choice in this position for me.

Ken Oman: Very impressive first season with us last year after a disappointing final year at Bohs. Strong, aggresive and no nonsense, Ken doesn't quite have the quality on the ball that Sives and Gartland have but defensively and aerially he is second to none.

Graham Gartland: Great to secure Grahams services for this season after an injury prone spell at St. Johnstone he has a chance to become a local hero at Rovers. For me he would get the nod alongside Sives for his quality on the ball and more importantly because of the balance he would bring to the back four being a left sided centre half. Needs to curb his aggression and not pick up needless suspensions.

Colin Hawkins: Plenty of eyebrows raised when Kenny brough Hawks in but he impressed we with his willingness to carry the ball out of the back four and contstant attempt to play through midfield in pre-season. Looks fitter and sharper than I expected and will keep the other 3 on their toes and fill in when need. His main role will be on the coaching staff and he will bring valuable experience to the dressing room.

Conor McCormack: Top player, great professional and we did very well to secure him on a 2 year deal. Showed some real glimpses of quality last year and his versatility proved very useful, still young enough and certainly capable of a career in England. I would expect a big season from him with a possible move at the end of the year.

Chris Turner: A player who divides opinions amongst fans but has plenty of quality and potential. Always looks to play forward and attack and adds vital goals. Switches off defensively and will probably not be first choice for me but only because we have real quality in this area.

Stephen O'Donnell: Will always be a hero for the penalty in Belgrade but another who seemed to be a better player against us than he has been for us. Great vision and range of passing but lacks pace and will struggle to make an impact this season unless we have injuries in this area.

Stephen Rice: Everybodys favourite player and longest serving players at the club, best workrate and attitude at the club and this makes up for flaws technically. Would not be first choice for me as we shouldn't need to defend enough to make Ricer useful but will be needed in big games and has a big part to play as a squad player.

Ronan Finn: Amazing ability to drift past players and keep possession in tight areas, last season he frustrated me in the final third by constantly playing passes wide instead of having the real quality to split defences and create chances for our front me. If he adds this to his game he can go far, would start the season as first choice for me along with McCormack.

Billy Dennehy: Scored alot of goals last year and added a number of assists but still frustrated me beacuse for somebody with so much pace he disappoints in 1 v 1 situations by not going past players enough, when he plays on the right he is so one footed that he is easy to defend and his delivery from set-pieces is not good enough for the amount of chances he gets.

Killian Brennan: Poor season by his standards last year but I was still delighted to see him join. Hasn't set the world alight in pre-season but has real quality and would be my first choice in the left wing position. Set piece delivery is superb and could be a make or break season for his career.

Gary McCabe: Start so promisingly last year and had sporadic good performances throughout the year but wouldn't be my first choice this year and needs to become more consistent and effective to gain a starting place.

Aaron Greene: Late signing in place of Dean Kelly and a shrewd one by Stephen Kenny. Greene improved drastically as last season went on and now looks like a real star. Impressed on his debut last week as a front man but for me he would be first choice as a wide right in an attacking 4-4-2 line up.

Gary Twigg: Goalscoring record has been astonishing since joining us. Only problem that Twiggy creates is if he plays we really need to play 4-4-2 to accomodate him but if he keeps scoring 20+ goals a season then we need to play to his strengths. Was at his best with Dessie Baker playing off him and I can see O'Neill or Kavanagh doing that role this season.

Daryl Kavanagh: Was superb for Pats last season as a striker, number 10 and wide man but I think he will be primarly used as a second striker for Rovers or playing as a 10 behind Twigg. Excellent goal against Waterford last week and it will be interesting to see how he settles in at Rovers.

Gary O'Neill: Was the butt of many jokes from Rovers fans last season due to his lack of goals and more importantly lack of fitness. Started so promisingly last year but drifted out of favour, looks much fitter and sharper this seasona and I think he will be the type of player Kenny will use a lot this season due to his compatability with Twigg. May start the season as first choice and then its up to him to keep himself in the team.

Ciaran Kilduff: Flattered to deceive last season after an excellent season at UCD in 2010. Best when playing as a loan frontman but all to often we reverted to long ball tactics when he played. Kilduff is better with the ball to feet linking up with midfielders and playing on the shoulder of defenders. Unlucky to miss most of pre-season with injuries and will find it difficult to establish himself this season.

So thats our review of the squad and what a squad it is, with strength in depth in every position.

Keep on Hooping!


Well with 6 pre-season games played and 5 won it can be considered a very successful pre-season for new manager Stephen Kenny and his staff but we really have to consider a number of other factors in pre-season rather than just results to say if it was a success.

Firstly we must consider the opposition: Mervue United, The Nike Academy, Birmingham City Reserves, Wexford Youths, Longford Town and Waterford United are certainly not the toughest tests we will have all season and in truth were we really have learned is from last seasons Europa League games, the players involved in those games will have gained valuable professional experience and this will stand to the squad again this season.

What I will say is 5 wins out of 6, including 4 clean sheets will certainly bring confidence to the new squad and you can only beat who is but in front of you. In the final week of pre-season we have certainly stepped it up a gear by sticking 12 goals past Division 1 promotion hopefuls Longord and Waterford. The difference in class, fitness and organisation was very evident in these games and it has a lot of Rovers fans already talking about the league title being in the bag. This is a dangerous attitude to have but fans will always get carried away and the manager will certainly have the players a lot more grounded.

The Stephen Kenny style of attacking football will go down very well with the Rovers faithful and hopefully we can put more teams to the sword this year when the opportunity arises. We have assembled a very well balanced and talented squad and it will be interesting to see who Kenny sees as his best XI for next weeks opener in Drogheda. Expect plenty of squad rotation during the season but the spine of the team will surely stay similar from week to week.

Another key observation from pre-season is the obvious superb physical condition of our players. Training was certainly tough and challenging and early morning sessions in England were just some of the demands put on the players in pre-season. One of the best things about having a big squad is competiton for places which keeps everybody on their toes and everybody knows they will need to be at their best to get into the team. I would even say that the toughest games in pre-season for the players were probably the 11-a-side training games! Which is a testament to our squad strength.

All in all things are looking good and there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the season ahead, hopefully more silverware lies ahead.

Keep on Hooping


Hi everybody,

Last season we started our Twitter and Facebook account to keep you all updated with the adventures of the Trim Hoops and the latest Shamrock Rovers news. It was a superb season with Rovers retaining our league title, winning the Seteanta Cup for the first time and of course the historic European campaign which saw us become the first League of Ireland club to ever play in the group stages of a European competition.

There was so much to write about so much to talk about so this year we have decided to start a blog to chronicle the 2012 season. The other reason we start this blog was to keep our very own Eric Scanlon up to date with all things Rovers whilst he is thousands of miles away carrying out valuable volunteer work in Cambodia.

We will attempt to update every week with a summary of each weekends action, we hope you enjpy what we have to say and hopefully this season will be as successful as last.

The Trim Hoops

Keep on Hooping