Mid-season Report Card - Shamrock Rovers

Fri, Jun 29 2018

Dan Carr has been a star performer for Rovers this year. Credit: Martin Doherty (ETPhotos)

Club: Shamrock Rovers

Manager: Stephen Bradley

Stadium: Tallaght Stadium

Highest attendance this season: 4,512 (vs Bohemians, April 13th)

Highest league goalscorer: Graham Burke (13)

Mid-season position: 4th

How we thought they would do

The extratime.ie staff prediction was for Shamrock Rovers to maintain their position from last season in third.

How they really have done

So far that prediction is not so far off. Rovers sit fourth, seven points behind surprise package Waterford in third. Rovers' inconsistency from last season has continued, with big results against the top sides (a 3-0 win at home to Cork City) offset by poor results against the bottom sides (two defeats and a draw with Bohemians).

Moment of the season so far

The standout moment of the season so far was the 3-0 win over champions Cork City in Tallaght. With intermational manager Martin O'Neill and assistant Roy Keane watching on, Graham Burke fired Rovers into an early lead and they built on it to run out comfortable winners. That display was enough to earn Burke a call-up to the international squad, scoring on his full debut in the win over the USA, and he's since moved on to Preston North End.

Star Player: Graham Burke

Therein lies Rovers' problem. Their standout player is no longer a Rovers player, his 13 goal haul over the first half of the season pricking up ears in the UK, and Preston were first to meet the Hoops' valuation. Having shown some promise during his first season in Tallaght, Burke ironed out the discipline problems and injuries that halted his first season to become the main man in Stephen Bradley's team, and became a regular match-winner, with a number of spectacular goals to add to his considerable highlight reel.

Surprise star player: Ethan Boyle

Many eyebrows were raised when Bradley allowed fan favourite Simon Madden to leave and brought in the Finn Harps right-back in his stead. A couple of troubled outings early in the season aside, the Wexford native has justified the manager's faith and emerged as one of the league's premier attacking full-backs. His use of his phone during the Georgie Byrne Memorial quiz may take some time to forgive, however. Ethan, we have our eye on you.

Young player: Aaron Bolger

The former Joey's midfielder has had to bide his time this season after emerging as a first-team player in 2017. 18-year-old Bolger has had to balance his Leaving Cert studies with senior football for the Hoops but a virtuoso performance in the 3-0 win over Cork was enough to cement his place in the hearts of Hoops fans. If he continues at this rate of improvement, he won't be long for this league.

Star signing: Dan Carr

Little was known on these shores about the English-born Trinidadian when he signed terms at the beginning of this season. His pedigree was evident, however, having been highly-rated at Reading before spells in the lower leagues and Sweden. His disciipline has let him down at times, notably when he was sent off for a petulant kick in the costly defeat to Bray, but his intelligence and quick feet mark him out as a rare striker in this league.

What they need to do in the transfer market

The loss of Graham Burke, and with him 13 goals, presents a problem for Rovers. Gary Shaw is yet to score a goal this year, while Carr has managed just six, so much of the heavy lifting has been done by the Sean McDermott Street native. In his absence, somebody will have to step up. Rovers look set to be beaten to Patrick McEleney by Dundalk, so either Ronan Finn will have to step up to the attacking midfield role or a replacement is needed. At the back, Alan Mannus will be a huge upgrade on Kevin Horgan and Tomer Chencinski, but a partner for Lee Grace would also be welcome.

Where we see them finishing

The struggles of teams around them may be Rovers' saving. Waterford have lost their top scorer and goalkeeper in Courtney Duffus and Lawrence Vigouroux, while Derry City may be without Ronan Curtis and Aaron McEneff. Rovers became markedly bettter at the tail end of last season and they likely will again, and do enough to secure European football for another year.