herald

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Rivals gear up for open race as League of Ireland kicks off

Ger O'Brien, St. Patrick's Athletic, and Conor Kenna, Shamrock Rovers, both teams will play each other on the opening day of the 2015 SSE Airtricity league season
Ger O'Brien, St. Patrick's Athletic, and Conor Kenna, Shamrock Rovers, both teams will play each other on the opening day of the 2015 SSE Airtricity league season

PAT Fenlon has promised to turn Shamrock Rovers into genuine challengers again ahead of what will be the most open SSE Airtricity League season in years.

After a 19-week break, league action resumes tonight as Dundalk kick off their title defence at home to Longford Town while the TV cameras will be in Tallaght Stadium for the meeting of rivals Rovers and St Patrick's Athletic.

The bookies have been puzzled as four clubs - St Pats (12/5), Dundalk (5/2), Shamrock Rovers (13/5) and Cork City (5/1) have a genuine chance. The Hoops finished 12 points off the pace last season and ahead of his first full season as Rovers boss, Fenlon has demanded a real challenge from a Hoops side bolstered by the signing of Keith Fahey from their rivals in Inchicore.

"What we have to achieve, and what the supporters want, is that we have to be competitive again," said Fenlon, who won five league titles as a manager with Shelbourne and Bohemians.

" When I came in midway through last season we were already out of the title race, which is not where Rovers should be. It became a two-horse race very quickly. If it's a two-horse race, or a four-horse race, we have to be in it. That's what the club expects. We want to win things."

Suspensions carried over from last season have spoiled tonight's live TV game with seven players - including ex-internationals Fahey and Stephen McPhail - banned but there could be one senior cap on view as Pat's last night completed the signing of Togo international Cyril Guedjé.

"We'd a good workout in Dundalk last week And we're fully focused on starting off positively against Rovers. I know all our supporters are looking forward to it and ticket sales have been fantastic so we'll hopefully get a result in Tallaght for them," said Saints boss Liam Buckley.

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