Last Season: Second, Division One; 4th in IHL Group B; Mills Cup first round; Neville Cup semi-final
Coach: Ger Butler (1st season)
Players In: Stephen Parker (Cork C of I), Ian McHugh (Perth), Allan Dale (Bulinda Bulls, Brisbane)
Players Out: Rob Fitzgerald (UCD), Phil Marshall (Australia), Mikey Fry (retired)
Summary: Ger Butler has stepped into Trevor Dagg’s shoes with the club showing strong claims to being one of the favourites. But the new boss is keen to say that he hopes the side he has assisted for a couple of years can tighten up defensively to marry with one of the more potent forward lines with the Johnny Bruton (pictured) as its fulcrum. Preseason has seen Glenanne, Cork C of I, Bandon, UCD, Belfast Harlequins and English side Spencer beaten after an intensive conditioning period with Stephen Barry.
Butler’s panel looks large and competitive. Tasmania state player Ian McHugh brings a combative, industrious style while Allan Dale has played at that level, too. It brings their Australian quota to four with Dash Hewett and Marcus Richardson sticking around though Phil Marshall has left these shores.
David Robinson and Geoff Walker are back after lengthy injuries while Josh Purcell is available, too, after a year out. Will Powderly is also on the recovery trail and hopes to be back available in six to eight weeks. Along with Pembroke, they look the side to have strengthened the most and have ambitions of shaking off Butler’s “perennial underachievers” dubbing to break through.
Last season, there were near misses in the Leinster league and missing out on the final day of the IHL group stages at Banbridge. October is their key month with three IHL games and the Irish Senior first round tie against Annadale. Peaking for those is the first task in a season laden with potential.
Early season fixtures:
First three league games: Sept 24 vs Railway Union (a); Sept 25 vs TRR (a); Oct 1 vs Clontarf (h)
Neville Cup: Sept 18 vs Fingal
Irish Senior Cup: Oct 8 vs Annadale (a)
IHL Group B: Oct 15 vs Lisnagarvey (a); Oct 29 vs Annadale (h)