The old foe have had a dramatic fall from grace over the past two seasons and this year’s squad is a shadow of the all conquering teams of a few years ago. Aaron Callaghan was a surprise appointment as Bohs manager this year but he is a hugely experienced coach and they will be well organised and hard to break down. They certainly won't be the most exciting team to match and goals will be at a premium but survival will be Bohs aim and I think they will have enough quality stay off the bottom.
Final Prediction: 8th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Karl Moore - The former Man City youngster never got a chance to show his worth at Rovers last year after his mid season signing from Galway and he will be keen to prove his worth and kick start his career at Bohs
Bray have proven to be a tough nut to crack for Rovers in the past and it seems like Pat Devlin’s men always perform against us. We have been lucky to get some crucial results in the Carlisle Grounds in the past 2 seasons but we have also been beaten in Tallaght and we can't underestimate Bray again this year although their squad isn't as strong as last year and will particularly miss midfield stalwart Gary Dempsey. Much will depend on the emergence of the next crop of youngsters and trying to keep their first XI fit.
Final Prediction: 11th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Danny O'Connor - re vitalised at Bray, Danny was a firm favourite for Hoops fans during his spell with us but put in some superb performances against us and scored a cracker in Tallaght last year. He was key to Brays survival along with Dempsey last year and will be their key man again this year.
Great to have Cork back in the league and I'm already looking forward to the trip to Turners Cross on March 16th. They will be looking to push for a top half finish and former Hoops Tommy Dunne has added well to his squad to by bringing Dan Murray, Tadhg Purcell, Shane O'Connor and the excellent Colin Healy. They will pick up a lot of points at home and may even challenge for the top spots.
Final Prediction: 4th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Tadhg Purcell - The former Hoops striker was deemed surplus to requirements by Michael O'Neill and after an excellent goalscoring spell at Darlington he moved to Northampton where injury curtailed his first team appearances. Tommy Dunne moved to secure the big man on loan last month and he could prove a handful for a lot of defenders in the league this year.
Surprised most with such a strong season last year in their first season back in the Premier Division but with the loss of McClean, Zayed and Lafferty and a reduced budget this year it will be tough for Declan Devine’s men to compete at the top. There are still quite a few top players at Derry this year and trips to the Brandywell are always enjoyable but never easy.
Final Prediction: 6th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Simon Madden - signed for Derry from Dundalk after he had an excellent season last year. Played in our first game ever game in Tallaght and if we didn't sign Gilbert he may have made a return this season. Good attacking full back who will provide a tough challenge for most LoI wingers.
Mick Cooke worked miracles to keep Drogheda up last year after it had looked like they were set for the drop but a combination of being well organised and Galways poor form they ended the season well above the drop zone. This year will be about consolidating again Mick Cooke has signed well bringing in 5 players from his ex club Monaghan and it looks like a much stronger team this year. Special mention and best wishes to Drogheda left winger Philly Hand who is brother of our very own Trim Hoop Andrew ‘Giggsy’ Hand!
Final Prediction: 7th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Mark O'Brien - began his LoI career with us and disappointed a lot of fans by leaving to join Bohs, has really fell from grace since that early promise but will be a key player for Drogheda.
Last season early promise under Ian Foster faded away with a poor second half of the season. Another club who have drastically cut their budget and new manager Sean McCaffrey will have to rely on youth this season and it could be a steep learning curve for the young players, luckily McCaffrey’s experience should be enough to keep them in the division.
Final Prediction: 9th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Darren Stapleton, hardly a household name to many Rovers fans but after his brief spell with us 2008 he went on to play non-league in England and then America and is now back in league with Dundalk.
Back in the top flight after a 10 year absence, Roddy Collins team were the surprise package last season in the First Division. They have lost a number of players to ex manager Mick Cooke at Drogheda this year and they will be just aiming to retain their top flight status come October.
Final Prediction: 12th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Robert Bayly – was a last minute Michael O’Neill signing in 2010 and will always be remembered for his late goal at home to Bnei Yehuda but ruined his reputation at Rovers with a poor performance and sending off at UCD in the title run in before a heated exchange with Rovers fans. Ruined it further by signing for Bohs last year and now for Roddy! Has the potential to still be a good player but too temperamental and unreliable.
Great season last year with promotion and a cup final and Shels will be relishing their top flight return. Alan Matthews teams are always very defensive and hard to break down and this Shels team is no different, kept all their key players from last year and have added well to the squad, I think Shels will surprise many and finish in the top half. Special mention and best wishes to Kevin Dawson who is a brother of our very own Trim Hoops Brendan Dawson!
Final Prediction: 5th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Paddy Kavanagh – signed for Rovers from Bray with a big expectation and the winger showed glimpses of class but never commanded a regular starting place. After being left out of a squad by Michael O’Neill last year he claimed: “What a load of me sack” on Twitter and rarely featured for us last season!! Still a Trim Hoops favourite but hopefully he won’t come back to haunt us this year.
Pushed us all the way last season and after 2 FAI Cup triumphs in a row they will have their eye on the league title this year. They have assembled a strong squad but losing Paul Cook just before the start of the season was not ideal and new manager Ian Bariclough will have to hit the ground running if Sligo are to challenge this season. Lack of strength in depth at the back will be their biggest worry this year and any injuries to Peers and McGuinness will see them struggle.
Final Prediction: 2nd
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Mark Quigley – The former Millwall youngster had a ill fated spell with us where he never seemed like he was even trying and then signed for Pats where he had an excellent season before breaking his leg the following year, has played for Bohs and Dundalk since and now he joins Danny North in a potent Sligo frontline.
St. Patricks Athletic
Liam Buckley will bring an attacking brand of football to Pats this year which they lacked under Peter Mahon and Bucko has put together a strong squad of experience LoI players. They ran out of steam towards the end of last season and will be keen to stay the distance this year but a cup win will be a big aim for them and if coupled with a high league finish it will be a successful first season for Buckley.
Final Prediction: 3rd
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Dean Kelly – scored that all important last minute goal against UCD in the Bowl to secure the 2011 league title for us. Was a fans favourite with his effort and ability but injury prevent us from seeing the best of Deano. Had to move on this year due to work commitments clashing with our training and he will be a key man for Pats this year.
Martin Russell’s young side need to applauded for sticking to their guns last season and continuing to try play football in the right way. This led to a couple of heavy defeats against us and some of the other top teams but the students also showed some real top performances last year and some of their players will no doubt be stars of the future in the league. It will be another struggle this year and success will once again be survival. Special mention and best wishes to Trim lad David O’Connor who is now in his third season at UCD and improving each year, maybe somebody he will become the first Trim Hoop player!
Final Prediction: 10th
Former Hoop that hopefully won't come back to haunt us: Chris Mulhall – ‘Hip’ as he is known to Rovers fans is best known for appearing on the Rovers club texts as injured week on week as a hip injury kept him out for most of his Rovers career. Done well for UCD last season and will be key player in their midfield this season.
Hopefully you have enjoyed our review of our opponents and here is a summary of how we think the table will look at the end of October:
1. Shamrock Rovers
2. Sligo Rovers
3. St. Patricks Athletic
4. Cork City
6. Derry City
7. Drogheda United
11. Bray Wanderers
12. Monaghan United