Laws can prove instant hit by bringing Cup cheer to Hoops
ON the opening day of the 2012 League of Ireland season, the television cameras were in Drogheda as defending champions Shamrock Rovers scraped a 2-1 win against the unfancied home team.
If you had told spectators leaving the ground that, come September, Drogheda would be second in the table, seven points ahead of the Hoops, they'd have advised you to seek help.
But that unlikely scenario has come to pass and, ultimately, it cost Stephen Kenny his job.
Ironically, the Hoops took nine points from their three league meetings with Mick Cooke's prudently assembled panel. They have better players than Drogheda and that's why Brian Laws has a great chance of collecting silverware in his first game in charge when the teams lock horns in the EA Sports Cup final at Tallaght Stadium this evening.
As Cooke pointed out earlier this week, Drogheda were regarded as pre-season relegation contenders in some quarters so, whatever happens from now to the end of the season, they have had a fine year.
Cooke has already retained five of this year's panel for 2013 and expressed confidence that, in contrast with a general trend around the country, his budget may increase over the winter.
There could be a few Rovers players on the market if they fail to impress between now and November.
"When I came in I asked the players for blood, sweat and tears. I didn't think they'd take me literally but we've ended up with a few cuts and bruises as they've worked so hard this week," said Laws.
It will count for nothing if they don't deliver this evening.
SHAMROCK RVS v DROGHEDA UTD
(Tallaght Stadium, 5.45, *Live Setanta Irl)
League form: Shamrock Rovers LLDWW, Drogheda DDWWW
Odds: Rovers 10/11, Drogheda 3/1, Draw 9/4
Referee: T Connolly (Dublin)
Team news: New Rovers manager Brian Laws faces a defensive crisis. Pat Sullivan and Ken Oman are suspended, Graham Gartland is definitely out and Colin Hawkins, Craig Sives and Conor McCormack face fitness tests. Captain Paul Crowley returns for Drogheda, who are missing the cup-tied Michael Schlingermann, Jason Marks and John Sullivan.
Verdict: Home win