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Assistant has high Hoops for new signings

JOHN GILL, the newly-appointed No 2 at Shamrock Rovers, believes that a new-look squad can help to restore the Hoops to their former glory.

Even though the club landed two major trophies last year, with wins in the League Cup and Setanta Sports Cup, the 2013 season was seen as a disappointment as Rovers finished fifth in the league and failed to qualify for Europe.

Manager Trevor Croly has reacted to that with major surgery on his squad over the close-season, with 14 players released and seven new arrivals so far.

With changes needed due to the club's decision to field a team in the First Division next season, Croly has also tinkered with his coaching staff, with the arrival of former Dundalk boss Gill as assistant manager – Colin Hawkins was Croly's second in command last season, but he is expected to take charge of the Rovers 'B' side in Division One.

Gill's arrival at Rovers signals a return to the League of Ireland scene for the Dubliner, who had been working at non-league level with Malahide United since he left St Patrick's Athletic, and he insists that he is ready for the challenge.

"Shamrock Rovers is a massive club, I think this is the only job that would have tempted me away from Malahide as I was very happy there," Gill (right) told the Herald.

 

PRESSURE

"There is huge pressure at a club like this, a demand for success from the fans that the players will have to respond to and it will be a challenge for us all – players and staff – to deal with that pressure and meet those demands.

"But I know the kind of squad we will have for next season and I think this Shamrock Rovers team can do very well," added Gill.

"Trevor has done a lot of work with the squad, a lot of players from last season have gone, he has signed a lot of new faces and there will be some more new players in as well.

"The players we have signed are young, are hungry and are desperate for success, and I think we have capacity to deliver that success.

"I worked with Conor Kenna and Sean O'Connor at St Pats, so I know the sort of characters they are, they will do what's needed to make this club very strong.

"We have signed David O'Connor from UCD, one of the most under-rated players in the league, while Ciarán Kilduff coming back from a loan spell at Cork will be like a new signing and Luke Byrne is a great prospect."

As an outsider who was working with Malahide last season, Gill is well-placed to assess Rovers' displays last season.

"There is no future in the past, so there isn't much point in dwelling too much on last season," he said.

"What I will say is that the season was not the failure that some people make it out to be, Rovers won two cups – three if you include the Leinster Senior Cup.

"They drew 13 games and if they had turned some of those draws into wins they would have been right up there in terms of European qualification.

"I think that in Trevor Croly they have a great manager in place, the squad will be very strong and I can't wait to start work with Rovers, it should be a very good season for us," added Gill.

Rovers have released more than a dozen of last season's squad, including long-serving players like Stephen Rice, Ken Oman and Conor McCormack, but a batch of new arrivals have come in such as Simon Madden (Derry), Luke Byrne (Bohemians), Kieran 'Marty' Waters (Bray) and Ryan Brennan (Drogheda).


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