Undoubtedly one of the league’s top players, in key matches last season Pembroke looked in desperate need of some inspiration from the sideline. Furthermore, when games were tight, the regular substitution system seemed to stop with forwards spending long periods on the pitch and tiring out.
The return of Conor Harte will be another bonus, judging by impressive performances for Ireland in the summer. Ronan Gormley and Tim Lewis are the best two defenders in country and with the national keeper behind them, they look near impregnable.
Stuart Loughrey and Scott Lowrie are developing well while if Michael O’Connor stays focused then could be a perfect foil for Alan Sothern. Justin Sherriff misses the start of the season with injury while Paddy Conlon will miss a couple of early season games.
Pembroke were unbeaten in normal time throughout the league and All-Ireland’s and have a good record against Rovers and they will have big motivation for the EuroHockey Trophy, having been granted the hosting.
But with Europe and indoor concerns not as pressing, they could edge the league and will be a favourite for the IHL. Again, week two will be a massive at Serpentine Avenue.
IHL Prediction: Tougher of two groups but should progress