Keane to get going
It’s a period of change for Alan Keane, both on and off the pitch. The defender, who is going into his 7th season at Rovers, is expecting a new arrival any day now and is also preparing for the new season.
Last season’s runners-up Cork City travel to Sligo for the league opener on Saturday, and although Keane says it will be a tough game, he feels it’s the perfect way to start the season.
“If you look at the first five games we have, four of them are probably against the strongest in the league. You want to be playing a big game for your season opener and that’s exactly what we have. Cork are being tipped to win the league by many.
“But, they’re coming to our home patch and we plan to make it as tough as possible for them. What better way to start the league than a game against the league favourites on your home ground? It’s our chance to show them what we can do and how good we are. We can’t wait now. Hopefully it’s a good game and hopefully we get a good crowd there as well.”
With pre-season done and dusted, Keane says it was different this year. He enjoyed it.
"Pre-season was fun. It wasn’t the usual dreaded pre-season. It was different. Owen is great at keeping us informed. He tells us what’s coming for the week ahead, in terms of what we’re doing in training each day. Mentally, for players, knowing what’s coming is a great help. Pre-season is good when everyone wants to work and that was the case this year. There was no moaning about having to train, no moaning about the running we did. Owen mixed it up loads and it was a big help. It went so fast. The new lads have settled in really well. Owen has even organised that players can come in and have breakfast together in the morning if they want. It’s good for bonding."
The 30-year-old has been impressed with the new additions to the squad. And he says there’s a real feel good factor at Rovers at the minute.
“There’s a really good buzz around the place at the minute. The new lads are young and ambitious. There are only a couple of the old fellas like myself left now. It’s a new era but the buzz is still there from previous years. Owen’s done a really good job with the players he’s brought in. They’re really hard workers.”
Competition for places in the squad is almost as high as ever. And ultimately, someone will have to lose out. But the Galway man says it only motivates players to work harder: “Competition in a squad is always good. It means you keep pushing yourself. Some lads need that bit of competition to keep them on their toes. Knowing that someone could potentially take your place in the team could motivate someone to work even harder to keep their place. It’s important to have that competition. In previous years, players have got comfortable and were not forced to be at their best. This is different.”
Rovers face Cork City at 7.45pm in The Showgrounds this Saturday.