Re-start Club Preview: Shamrock Rovers

Sun, Jul 26 2020

Rovers lead at the top of the league table is three points at the re-start Credit: Eddie Lennon (ETPhotos)

Club: Shamrock Rovers

Head Coach: Stephen Bradley

Highest league goalscorer: Graham Burke (Five goals)

Current position: First

How we thought they would do for the 2020 season

The Hoops came into their 2020 league campagin with serious title ambitions and the extratime.com team prediction back in February was for Rovers to end the sesason with their first league title since 2011.

The confidence around the club itself on their title tilt is based on the Hoops strong league campaign last season plus claiming their first FAI Cup trophy for 32 years – and that they did it in the final at the expense of perennial champions Dundalk. 

How they did in the opening part of the season

It couldn’t have gone any better for Rovers with five wins out five allowing them to earn an early three point lead over second place Dundalk.

In the first game of the season a 93rd minute winner in the Dublin Derby at Dalymount Park played in biblical wind and rain was followed by a 6-0 win against Cork City in the next game back in Tallaght.

There were away wins over Waterford (2-0) and Sligo Rovers (3-2) that took place either side of a dramatic 3-2 home win over Dundalk. 

Moment of the season so far

That victory over Dundalk set a serious marker for Rovers’ title ambitions. Played out in front of a record league crowd in Tallaght of 7,522, the live TV cameras captured Jordan Flores’ wonder goal for the Lilywhites and caught a classic of a game that went one way and then the other.

It was Jack Byrne who got the winner as he turned Chris Shields one way and then the other to create space to strike the ball from distance for a late winner.

Stand out player so far this season

It is hard to look past Irish senior international Jack Byrne who has continued his sparkling form from last season into the new campaign. Byrne has three goals from the opening five games.

Transfers in/out prior to the restart

No changes for Rovers over the break but it is worth noting that Sean Kavanagh is now available having missed the start of the season following knee surgery. That is counter balanced by the loss of Greg Bolger whose serious leg injury has ruled him out for the rest of the campaign.

What they need to do in the restart

The shortened 18 game season due to COVID-19 has handed the Hoops their best opportunity to win a title since Michael O’Neill was in charge. If we assume we are looking at a two horse title race, with just 13 games remaining the Hoops just have to match whatever Dundalk do and the title will be heading to Tallaght.

Looking back at last season, Rovers rushed out of the gates and built up an early lead over Dundalk but by the time the teams had played 18 games, Dundalk were top on goal difference. 

Where we see them finishing

Champions

Who will they face in the FAI Cup

The current cup holders received a bye in the first round.

First post-lockdown league fixture

Finn Harps at Tallaght Stadium on Saturday 1 August (kick off 5pm)