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Can anyone challenge Dundalk and Rovers? | League of Ireland preview

Ryan Clarke
Ryan Clarke

21:07 13 Feb 2020

The big question on the eve of the 2020 League of Ireland season is if Shamrock Rovers can bridge the gap to Dundalk and win the league.

Rovers came close last year, at one stage being an incredible 10 points clear, but the Lilywhites ultimately caught them and won the league by some distance.

However this year, former Bohemians goalkeeper Shane Supple thinks things will end differently with Shamrock Rovers usurping Dundalk.

Speaking to Nathan Murphy on The Football Show, Supple said, “I think Rovers will push Dundalk this year, I think Dundalk might be coming the other way this year.

“Just purely because the lads have been on the road for a long, long time. I think it’s difficult to keep that hunger alive so it’ll be interesting to see.

“But there is the possibility that they may be on the other side of the slope now this year,” said Supple.

Supple returned to football and the League of Ireland in 2016 after a period away from the game, right in time for Dundalk’s historic European run under Stephen Kenny.

League of Ireland kick-off

Although much of that team still plays for Dundalk, Supple explained that it doesn’t have the same ‘feel’ as it once had under Kenny.

It is as if they are no longer capable of “blowing opposition teams away” in the manner they did in the past.

“From watching them last year, yeah they went on and won what they did but there wasn’t the same feeling about it when Stephen [Kenny] was there as the manager.

“In the EA Sports Cup final last year, Derry possibly should have won that.

That was at a stage in the season where things could have gone one way or another for Vinny and Dundalk if they didn’t get over that little hump.

“It’s hard to buy that [experience], that comes over a long time and being week-in, week-out together with each other. 

“I’m not discounting them but I fancy Rovers this year,” the former Bohs ‘keeper said.

But if Shamrock Rovers are to have aspirations of winning their first league title since 2011, they need to score more goals or find a striker capable of doing that.

“If you’re looking at last year’s stats, the opportunities that they created and didn’t put away, I think if they had a real out and out goalscorer I think they can really push on and challenge and win the league [this] year,” Supple explained.

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Dundalk FAI Football Irish Football League Of Ireland Shamrock Rovers Shane Supple Soccer Stephen Bradley Vinny Perth

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