As Shamrock Rovers prepare to kick off their title defence against another of his former clubs in Tallaght tonight, Sean Hoare's presence around the club's Roadstone training ground seems like a stark reminder of the gamble Dundalk have taken with their transfer policy ahead of the coming season.
The 27-year-old won two titles and two cups during his time at Oriel Park but felt he had no option but to leave after being offered just a one-year extension. Seeking a bit more security than that, he says, “I looked at my options and thankfully I’d the best one, to come here.
“The feeling around the club is ... when I went to Dundalk, it’s the same feeling I get here,” he says. “There is potential to go and do that. It’ll take a lot of hard work. Just because the club won the League and had a bit of success ... it can go the other way just as quick. You have to build on what they’ve been doing the last couple of years.”
Hoare says he was disappointed by the offer he got from Dundalk but that he accepts it was nothing personal. “It wasn’t just me,” he says.
“If they were offering three- or four-year deals to everyone well then I’d probably have felt differently. But it wasn’t just me. That was their business model. So, fair enough. Each to their own. It just didn’t suit me.”
Dundalk have clearly brought in some decent players from abroad as they look to reclaim their title but the shift in approach has certainly made them more of an unknown quantity ahead of the new season and those who have departed have made both the sides that will face each other in Tallaght this evening stronger with Sean Gannon and John Mountney among the most recently arrived of the Oriel Park exiles.
Sean Kavanagh comes into contention for the home side while Lee Grace is again a doubt and Neil Farrugia is still out injured. Stephen Bradley acknowledges that his side starts the campaign as favourites to retain the title and believes his players should embrace that but their south city neighbours proved problematic in their two meetings last year and Rovers could do with getting off to a winning start.
Stephen O’Donnell has a full squad to choose for the game which will be broadcast live on RTÉ2. There is a feeling around the club that if they can keep the better players injury- free then they will be very much improved on last season.
There a lot else to look out for, though, not least how on loan players like Vitezslav Jaros and Alfie Lewis settle in over the coming months.
In the day's earlier game, Drogheda United have everyone bar Mark Hughes fit for the visit of Waterford whose new manager gets his first proper taste of the league here.