New boys making their mark

Defender Alan Keane has said the new players that have joined the Bit o’ Red are already showing their talents as the countdown to Saturday’s opener with Athlone Town continues. 

Rovers concluded their pre-season schedule with a 1-0 defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park, an unfortunate result after an encouraging showing in Dublin 8.

He commented: “We have come back for pre-season all in good shape and it has basically been football from the start.

“The new boys have gelled in well and the lads that played against Pat's, Danny Ledwith was very good, Paul O'Conor when he came on, Russeller (John Russell), Richard Brush, Eric Odhiambo, I thought they all played well. This is a tough place to come and it is not often you come here and create eight or nine chances.

Keane said the match will serve as a good lesson to the side ahead of the season kick-off.

“It’s disappointing to lose and especially with a Cup at stake. It is a good indication for us going into the season next Saturday. I think we played very well as a team.

“A wonder goal won it and to be fair we created the better chances and were the better team. It is just a little bit of fine tuning in the final third, our end product needs a little bit more improvement and it will come to us.

“It shows today what is going to separate the teams - a wonder strike - there is no way any keeper in the world would have saved that. Sometimes you just have to take these things on the chin. You have to take a lot of positives from today.

“We closed down well, we were sharp, we looked fitter so a good positive going into next Saturday. It'll be crunch time next week against Athlone.

Competition is evident in each position of the teams in the early parts of the year with Ross Gaynor and Sean Maguire likely to come back into contention on Saturday after missing out in the President’s Cup with minor knocks while Kieran Djilali is also nearing a return. 

Keane will battle with Seamus Conneely for a place at right-back this season with manager Ian Baraclough anticipating a tough selection choice in naming his team on Saturday against the newly-promoted side.

The former Galway defender said the entire squad will be needed from Saturday until November when the campaign ends.  

“We have a lot of players for each position. It is good and healthy because it will keep lads on their toes. We'll hopefully go through the week now injury free and a full squad to choose from.

“It's a tough squad to choose from, we are out again in the Setanta Cup on Monday night and it is going to be a big ask for all the players.

“We need everyone and it's important everyone does get game time. We all look fairly sharp and you saw that lads came on against Pat's, they are the same. We look forward to next Saturday and hopefully a run to start the season with.”

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