| SHAMROCK ROVERS
By Alan Condon
Following back-to-back cup wins against Coleraine and Wexford Youths, the Hoops continued their impressive early-season form against Linfield with a 4-1 thrashing at Tallaght Stadium on Monday, March 4.
The Republic of Ireland's most successful club intend to improve on their disappointing fourth place finish last season, and the Tallaght outfit face a tough start to the season with three Dublin derbies and a visit to their former manager in their opening four league games.
Rovers have signed a worthy replacement in Mark Quigley, to fill the void left by last season's top scorer Gary Twigg. Ex-UCD striker Ciaran Kilduff illustrated significant goal scoring form in pre-season, and a brace against Linfield in the Setanta Sports Cup showed that Trevor Croly's side is not lacking in firepower this season.
Rovers have also strengthened at the back with new signing David Elebert signing from Icelandic side Fylkir, and Jason McGuinness arriving from league champions Sligo Rovers. They have also secured youngster Derek Foran from Dundalk as Scottish giant Craig Sives leaves Ireland for the sunny shores of Australia to play for Hume City FC.
Ronan Finn will be key for the Tallaght side if they wish to mount a serious challenge on the league title in 2013. Killian Brennan has said farewell to Croly's side, and experienced winger Sean O'Connor likely to become the new first choice left midfielder.
With the controversial sacking of Stephen Kenny behind them, the Hoops are hoping for a fruitful season under the careful guidance of new boss Trevor Croly.