Thursday 23 January 2020

Rovers to get go ahead for 'B' team in First Division

23 September 2019; Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile
23 September 2019; Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley during the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers at Oriel Park in Dundalk, Co Louth. Photo by Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

Shamrock Rovers are expecting to get the nod today to field a 'B' team in the League of Ireland First Division next season in place of the now-defunct Limerick.

And that will clear the way for league officials to issue the fixture list tomorrow for the 2020 season in the 10-team second tier, 19 days after the top flight's fixtures were announced and just over a month before the new campaign begins.

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However, the league is no closer to agreeing a new overall structure as clubs await an update later this month from tech entrepreneur Kieran Lucid on his plans for an all-island league.

Rovers had fielded a 'B' team in Division One in the 2014 season, Colin Hawkins as manager of a side which finished sixth in an eight-team league, but the experiment was abandoned after one season.

Other clubs considered following Rovers' path at that time but backed off due to the financial demands of fielding another team with staff.

Keen to give their younger players more game-time, Rovers had floated the idea of reviving the 'B' team idea in 2020, before Limerick's exit.

Limerick, which effectively collapsed in November when a rescue package could not be found for the club with debts of €490,000, allows the Hoops to replace them and avoid a scenario of having an uneven number of teams in the division.

The seven members of the National League Executive Committee will vote today and while the two delegates from First Division clubs are expected to vote against the idea, there should be enough support for the plan from the other five for it to be carried.

There would be conditions attached to the 'B' team's presence in the division, like a guarantee they could not get promoted or face the Rovers first team in the cup competitions.

Rovers would have to select from a defined squad list, with no more than four senior players available.

Boss Stephen Bradley has spoken of his frustration at restricted chances to play some of the younger squad and while Rovers had players on loan to First Division clubs last season, the club would prefer to have their fringe men train with Rovers and play for the 'B' team in competitive games.

If Rovers' second attempt at the 'B' team is a success, their Premier Division rivals may also explore the idea, a concern for clubs like Athlone Town and Cobh Ramblers who may fear they could be replaced, long-term, by a 'B' team from the likes of St Pat's.

Irish Independent

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