Early test for title contenders as Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke clash

Pembroke have seen top scorer Alan Sothern and defender Conor Harte taking up contracts in Belgium

Alan Sothern: Pembroke’s top scorer last season has moved to Belgium. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

Alan Sothern: Pembroke’s top scorer last season has moved to Belgium. Photograph: INPHO/Donall Farmer

 

Three Rock Rovers and Pembroke’s early-season title credentials face a major test in Leinster Division One as last year’s Irish Senior Cup finalists show down in the first big game of the new campaign.

Both recorded clean-sheet wins on day one, seeing off Rathgar and Railway Union respectively, but neither found full flow as the early season cobwebs took a while to be shaken off. Nonetheless, they will both expect to contest for honours as the year progresses even though Pembroke coach Paddy Conlon suggests that Rovers – along with Monkstown – are “a little bit ahead of us”.

Contracts in Belgium

Alan SothernConor HarteMatthias PodperaNick Burns

Rovers are more settled with Kane and Jonathan Roberts arriving, with Shane Madeley moving to UCD. Last year they won all four meetings between the teams.

It is the marquee game of a well-matched weekend. After a week’s grace, UCD – who saw eight players move over the summer – have two big games. Key among the departures was Irish midfielder Shane O’Donoghue, who has gone to Dragons in Belgium, while Kirk Shimmins is currently in New Zealand playing in the national league for the Southern Dogs.

On Saturday they face a new-look Corinthian before playing their back match on Sunday against YMCA. The Y have brought in two Australian players to add to South African pair Jacques Odendaal and Jaco Fourie under new coach Jacob Klinkradt.

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