The new season in the SSE Airtricity League begins this weekend with the President’s Cup taking place this coming Saturday. For the fourth year in a row, it will be between Dundalk and Cork City. Cork have won this fixture on the last three occasions so Dundalk will be looking for a measure of revenge.
I’m sure as well that their new manager (albeit not officially on paper) Vinny Perth would love to begin his reign with a trophy win. Kick-off in Turner’s Cross is at 5:30pm. So with the new campaign fast approaching the sides are still finalising their squads. Bohemian FC manager Keith Long has very much put his focus on signing young players with a point to prove. They added two more such players during the week. First, they signed former Scotland U-19 international Scott Allardice who is a defensive midfielder. He joins from Dundee United. They also brought in striker Sam Byrne from Dundalk. He made only two appearances with the Lillywhites whom he had signed for from Everton.
Sligo Rovers manager Liam Buckley has found out like his predecessors that it isn’t easy to convince players from within the league to move to the North West. This often means the net has to be cast wider and he did just that. Rovers signed Nigerian striker Brendan Ogbu. Ogbu was most recently with Iranian side Al-Hedood and won the Nigerian Cup with FC Heartland in 2012.
They are also due to sign former Stoke City under-age player Lewis Banks. He has captained their U-21 side and was a former U-23 player of the year. His incoming arrival was announced by his current club Stafford Rangers who revealed he was leaving as he had been offered a full-time contract by Rovers.
Former Rovers and Cork midfielder Jimmy Keohane, who left the double runners-up, wasn’t without a club for long. He signed for English League One side Rochdale FC until the end of the season.
There have been a number of high profile retirements in this offseason and there was another during the week. Gary McCabe announced that he was hanging up his boots. Despite being only 30 he had a gilt-edged career which included spells with most recently at Bray Wanderers, Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers. He won the EA Sports Cup and the FAI Cup with Rovers and the League, Setanta Sports Cup and the Leinster Senior Cup with Shamrock. He was also part of their side that qualified for the group stages of the Europa League in 2011.