Eircom League kick-off: how will they fare?

DROGHEDA UNITED To me they have matured under the leadership of Paul Doolin for the past three seasons. Drogheda has made some quality signings, and has added good players to their squad for this season. They are the only team not to lose big players; this could be a huge plus for them. Drogheda is my tip for the league Championship this season. BOHEMIANS They have money to burn and have signed some good players. First and foremost, they have a good mix of experience and young players. New boss Sean Connor will in time lead the club to the promised land-but not this season. A good bet for a cup run. DERRY CITY New boy on the block Pat Fenlon has a very hard act to follow this season (in Stephen Kenny). I think Pat will struggle to reach the heights of the past seasons. They will need to improve to be champions. I think they will be the bridesmaids again this season. CORK CITY I don’t think Damien Richardson has added any quality to his playing squad this time around. Cork has lost too many good players in the close season to be up in the fight for the Championship. Cork City’s season will be a stop and start affair. ST. PATRICK’S ATHLETIC To me the loss of top players like Trevor Molloy and Paul Keegan was a massive blow to the club. My concern is where are the goals coming from this term. Pats will be a good mid-table team this season with no silverware. UCD UCD will always be a mid-table team to me. Under manager Pete Mahon, the team will be well organised and will play good football. But it will be ‘just another season’ for the students-at best a good cup run. SLIGO ROVERS Going full-time will not help Sligo. Under new boss Rob McDonald they will struggle on and off the pitch. There’s a lot of pressure on the players to deliver the goods. Rovers had a good cup run last season which was ended by Derry City. The club say the local talent is there, but I don’t buy into that. A very long season ahead for the Rovers-bottom three for me. SHAMROCK ROVERS The fact that Rovers are back in the top flight is great news for Irish soccer. The manager has built a very good squad of young players who are hungry to win. Looking at the squad, I think at best it’s a good cup run this season for the Rovers. LONGFORD TOWN If the news is right that Longford Town are having financial woes this is clearly going to affect the club. Too many of the good players are going out the door and poor players are coming into Alan Mathews’ squad. There is a real danger of the Town going down this season. Bottom three for me. BRAY WANDERERS Bray will struggle this season. The fact that they are part-time will put a lot of pressure on the team to keep up with the big boys of the league. Bray was the second worst team in the league last season and I think they will do well to improve on that this time. Bottom three. GALWAY UNITED Like Sligo going full-time for this season-I think this is a bad move by the club on their return to top flight football. Galway will just stay up this season. WATERFORD UNITED Waterford’s team is like a see-saw-up and down. They face a dog-fight in trying to stay up. LEAGUE CHAMPIONS: DROGHEDA UNITED LEAGUE CUP: SHAMROCK ROVERS F.A.I. CUP: BOHEMIANS BOTTOM THREE: LONGFORD TOWN, BRAY WANDERERS, SLIGO ROVERS FIRST DIVISION ATHLONE TOWN Michael O’Connor has been working on his squad all winter, adding good players for this season. A lot of pressure will be put on the team to deliver silverware this time around. Moving into a new stadium will add a lot of pressure to win promotion from the first division. Must improve on last season’s display in the league, to have a chance of going up. FIRST DIVISION CHAMPIONS: DUNDALK RUNNERS-UP: SHELBOURNE or ATHLONE TOWN