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