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SEASON PREVIEW: Shamrock Rovers

After claiming back-to-back League of Ireland Premier Division titles over the last two seasons, Shamrock Rovers head into the 2022 season looking to make it three on the spin.


2021 League Finish: Champions (1st)

2021 FAI Cup: Last-16 (2-1 loss to Bohemians)

2021 Europa Conference League: Play-offs (5-2 agg. loss to Flora Tallinn)


Shamrock Rovers comfortably trotted to a second League of Ireland Premier Division title in as many years in 2021, finishing their league campaign 16 points ahead of second-place St. Patrick's Athletic, with Rovers completing their 36-game campaign on 78 points.


After a strong pre-season under their belts, and a Presidents Cup win added to the mix, Shamrock Rovers head into the new campaign full of confidence and ready for the challenge of aiming for three-in-a-row.


Rovers welcome newly-promoted UCD to Tallaght on the opening day of the season, before travelling to the Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium the following Friday to take on an impressive-looking Derry City side.


Players in: Jack Byrne (Free agent) & Andy Lyons (Bohemians)


Stephen Bradley's squad relatively remained the same as last year, other than the additions of Irish underage international Andy Lyons from Dublin rivals Bohemians, and the return of fan-favourite Jack Byrne to the club after his short spell with Cypriot side Apoel FC.


Both players featured prominently throughout pre-season, and will be available for selection for the Hoops' opening game of the season this Friday against the Students.


Players out: Dylan Duffy & Alex Dunne (UCD), Max Murphy (Bohemians), Alex Moody & Jordan Tallon (Wexford FC), Dean Williams (Drogheda United), Killian Cahill (Brighton & Hove Albion), Adam Wells (Wexford FC - Loan), Darragh Nugent (Drogheda United - Loan) & Dean McMenamy (Longford Town - Loan)


With the exclusion of Shamrock Rovers II from the nine-team 2022 League of Ireland First Division, it was no surprise to hoops supporters to see many of our academy prospects leave the football club for first-team football.


The most notable departure in the off-season is attacker Dean Williams, who has joined Kevin Doherty's Drogheda United in a permanent move to the Louth side. Having spent time on loan at Bray Wanderers, Athlone Town & Longford Town in recent seasons, Williams struggled for game-time with the Hoops and has swapped the green & white hoops for the claret & blue of Drogheda for the upcoming season.


Player to look out for: Aidomo Emakhu


After making few appearances off the Rovers bench, Emakhu was the talk of the town when he bagged a last minute winning goal against KF Teuta in the Europa Conference League 3rd Qualifying Round last season.


The pacey attacker showed the league his ability and attacking prowess in the second-half of last season, and netted his first-ever league goal as we defeated Finn Harps 3-0 in Tallaght in October to officially secure back-to-back League of Ireland Premier Division titles. Emakhu was also named as Shamrock Rovers' 2021 Young Player of the Year, voted for by the fans.


After netting three goals already throughout pre-season, Emakhu will be full of confidence heading into the 2022 campaign, hoping to compete with the likes of Aaron Greene, Rory Gaffney and Graham Burke for that starting position at the head of Stephen Bradley's line-up.



Predicted line-up: (Formation: 3-4-3) Alan Mannus; Sean Gannon, Roberto Lopes, Lee Grace; Ronan Finn, Dylan Watts, Gary O'Neill, Neil Farrugia; Jack Byrne, Graham Burke, Danny Mandroiu.


Predictions:


League: Champions

FAI Cup: Semi-finalists

Europe: Europa Conference League Group-Stages



How do you think Shamrock Rovers will get on in their respective competitions during 2022? Let me know your thoughts on Twitter, using the handle @tipperaryhoops.

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