Hoops €1.5m investment for youths
Fenlon predicts close league race
Shamrock Rovers hope that a fresh cash injection of €1.5million will help establish their youth set-up as one of the best in the country.
It was a busy weekend for the Hoops as on Friday night Pat Fenlon's side lost their unbeaten record, and run of clean sheets, with a 2-0 defeat at home to St Patrick's Athletic. That loss, and the outcome of the other games on Friday, leaves the top of the table looking very tight, five teams level on nine points after four games.
"It's going to be a tight league," said manager Fenlon.
"It will be like that over the course of the season. Pats, Dundalk, Cork and ourselves are the teams that people would have looked at, Derry have done well after a shaky start.
"I am sure Bohs will be back into it and Galway had a great start as well. Wexford have got their first point, the games are going to be tight and tough, most teams are able to beat each other."
While the derby defeat was disappointing, Saturday's EGM of the club had a more positive outcome as Rovers members voted to accept a proposal which sees long-time supporter Ray Wilson up his stake in the club to 50% of the shareholding, in return for a €1.5m investment.
The cash will be invested in Rovers' underage section, improving their facilities, though a mooted takeover of the club from a UK-based consortium is not on the agenda.
"It's brilliant for the club," says a Rovers source. "It means we can invest heavily in the schoolboy side of the club without having to cut back on the first-team budget. We want to offer young players a realistic alternative to going to England and this will be a big help."
On the field, Fenlon admits that the loss to Pats was hard to take and he's keen to get his injured players fit again. "Killian Brennan, Stephen McPhail and Luke Byrne are big losses for us, we had a lot of young boys on the bench on Friday, that's where we are and it's not an excuse, we played well enough to get something out of the game and we didn't get it," Fenlon said.