Killian Brennan hoping for decent European run this season
St Patrick’s Athletic star eager for more success
St Patrick’s Athletic Killian Brennan. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho
Having won the league with St Patrick’s Athletic last year and more or less managed a clean sweep of the available individual awards, Killian Brennan might be expected to shy away from the question of how he, and they, might top all that during the months ahead. Instead, he responds without hesitation that a decent European run would do the trick.
The 30-year-old is no stranger to success having previously enjoyed a fair bit of it at Derry and especially Bohemians but if he is right and, as he claims, St Patrick’s were only building last year, then the next few seasons could be remarkable ones for the most famous of the Brennan brothers.
The champions have certainly seen the share of movement over the course of the close season and could have the guts of a new spine to the team over the course of this campaign. Somewhat inevitably, Liam Buckley says they have improved but it’s not certain that that is the case in every area and while St Patrick’s start the season as the team to beat, the margins look likely to be tight again.
Won the title
Last time around either Dundalk or Sligo Rovers would have won the title had they managed to win an additional game in Inchciore. Both have traded fairly significantly since – Brennan describes the Rovers squad as “unbelievable” – in the hope of improving on their respective second and third place finishes.
Dundalk ran St Patrick’s the closest but were beaten in what was regarded as a title showdown towards the end of the campaign. That Stephen Kenny has a better squad now seems to be beyond doubt but what is open to question is the extent to which he got last year’s group to over perform and whether he can actually manage to generate an improvement this time around.
Defence should be the biggest issue up at Oriel Park although Kenny’s desire to attack might just mean his side tries to score its way to a higher place. Goals are probably the more pressing concern up at the Showgrounds where the overall total of 53 last year masked something of a mid-season slump after the flying start inspired by Anthony Elding.
He is now with Cork, one of the club’s trying to make the leap from mid-table and while John Caulfield believes they can make progress, his fate will not depend on it in the way Trevor Croly’s most likely will in the wake of a remarkable winter of wheeling and dealing.
The Shamrock Rovers boss has changed his preferred formation as well as a good portion of the club’s playing personnel in recent weeks and the early signs are that goals will be rather less of a problem in Tallaght this year than they were last.
The cups the team won then are only, it seems, considered a temporary consolation for lack of league success and Croly, it is said, needs his side to hit the ground running over the opening weeks of the campaign if the supporters’ patience is not to be exhausted. As Kenny discovered,that’s more or less fatal when that happens out there.
Anything might happen under Roddy Collins at Derry but Limerick and Bohemians are probably the two most obvious other clubs to show improvement this year. If Drogheda do not pay a major price for parting ways with Mick Cooke and cutting the budget, then Robbie Horgan will have done well indeed but it seems more likely that his side will struggle along, one suspects, with a UCD team that has again lost a few of its brightest talents and a Bray one that has endured a good bit more upheaval than that.
It will, of course, be interesting not least because of Cooke’s incentive to prove his employers wrong now that he is with Athlone, the arrangement arrived at to allow Shamrock Rovers enter another team in the first division and the reunification of league football in the west where, hopefully, Galway can manage to at least challenge Waterford United, Longford Town and Shelbourne.
Staying at the top of that pile should be enough of a target for anyone but a European run would certainly be nice and not just for Brennan.