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Brian Kerr says 'it’s time for one of the Dublin teams to stand up again' ahead of 2019 kick-off

The former Irish boss believes Shamrock Rovers are under pressure to compete for the league title this year.

Brian Kerr.
Brian Kerr.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

BRIAN KERR BELIEVES it is time for some of the Dublin-based clubs to step up and ensure this year’s title race isn’t just a two-way battle between Dundalk and Cork City. 

“It’s time for one of the Dublin teams to stand up again”, Kerr told The42. “We’ve had a domination from Cork and Dundalk. 

It’s great when the non-Dublin teams are doing well, but equally travelling Dublin support going around the country, big matches in Dublin, and big derby matches in Dublin are all good for the game.

“So I’m hoping for a more exciting season with the continuous emerge of young talented players in the league.” 

The title has swapped between the hands of Cork and Dundalk every year since St Pat’s won it in 2013, and Kerr believes it is incumbent on Shamrock Rovers to improve on last season’s third place finish, where they finished 25 points from champions Dundalk and 15 from second-placed Cork City. 

“I think the pressure is on Rovers to be really competitive.

“The problem for Rovers last year was that they lost too many matches.

“They are a little bit like Spurs this year, with 20 wins, six defeats and no draws. Rovers have been a little bit like that: not enough draws and too many defeats. They have to be more consistent to be able to scrap out draws and keep down the loss column to compete with Dundalk and Cork and whoever might else might emerge this year.” 

Rovers lost 10 times last season, drawing a further eight times. 

Elsewhere, Kerr is optimistic his former side can improve under the management of Harry Kenny. 

“I’m looking forward to seeing Pat’s. Harry Kenny has been busy over the non-season and they have done good work in terms of bringing in players.

Rhys McCabe from Sligo is exciting, as of course is Chris Forrester coming back. Even those who don’t go regularly, those who were at the [2014] cup final and the run-in to the league win in 2013 should be coming back to see Forrester. He was a great player in the league.

“I like young Jamie Lennon, and he did very well for Stephen Kenny [in an U21 friendly against the Irish Amateurs last week]. Kevin Toner showed a lot of potential at centre-back last season, too. 

“It was difficult coming into Pat’s over the last couple of seasons, but this year they should be up the table. I don’t think they will be challenging for the league but they should be more competitive. They were too easily beaten last year.

Chris Forrester Chris Forrester has returned to Pat's for the 2019 season. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“I would hope that under Harry there will be a little more structure to the play. As attractive as it was under Liam [Buckley], they were too easy to play against and too easily beaten.

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“He has gone to Sligo but I’m sure he will do well there. Liam was a great manager for  Pat’s but Liam needed a change and Pat’s needed a change.” 

Pat’s finished fifth last year, one place and two points ahead of Bohemians. 

“Bohs always have a few good young players and they play a good brand of football with a small budget. I expect them to be as hard to beat as they have been over the last couple of years. Maybe a little bit better.

“They just find it hard to have the consistency, which is how it is when you have a lot of young players.” 

Kerr, however, expects Dundalk to be as strong as ever.

“They haven’t lost any players this year that they were unhappy about losing. Connolly is gone but Connolly was never really in [Stephen Kenny's] team, and Ronan Murray couldn’t fully establish himself.

“Sean Murray looks like a good signing; [Daniel] Kelly could be a player. They have kept their best players so you would expect that it will be all about them, but you would hope everyone else will be more competitive.”

Cork City, meanwhile, have had a significant turnover of players since the end of last season with Kieran Sadlier, Steven Beattie and Jimmy Keohane among nine players who have moved on.

Their squad has, however, been boosted by the signings of Dan Casey (Bohemians), Daire O’Connor (UCD), James Tilley (loaned from Brighton) and Liam Nash (Gillingham). 

In spite of the level of change at Turner’s Cross, Kerr isn’t writing them off entirely. 

“Cork have had so much change it will hard for them to be competitive but you shouldn’t overlook the cuteness of John Caulfield: he has an eye for a player.”

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