Fresh from completing his first two deals as Shamrock Rovers manager, Trevor Croly’s main aim now will be to do what many think is not possible, replace Gary Twigg.
Hoops legend Twigg has opted to move north to join Portadown in an attempt to be closer to his family, leaving behind a legacy of one of the greatest strikers ever to grace the League of Ireland.
His potent goal threat and predatory instincts were second to none. The Scottish striker will forever be revered by the Hoops faithful, having scored a staggering 81 goals in 119 games over his three year tenure at the club.
After a disappointing fourth place finished this season Rovers will be keen to regain their title come March, but if they are to have any chance of doing so they must replace last season’s top scorer Twigg.
Here Glen Dowd of Irish News Review considers five possible replacements for the Glaswegian.
Cup final hero Patterson may well be the man to replace Twigg. The Strabane native enjoyed a blistering start to his Derry City career last year, bagging a hat trick on his debut. Derry were a side in transition this year but Declan Devine got the best out of his men. Patterson’s form suffered shortly after due to injury, but the ex Linfield man grabbed two vital goals in the FAI cup final which brought the cup north at the expense of St Patrick’s Athletic. His talents are well regarded within the league and he remains contracted to the Candystripes for 2013, but with Rovers’ riches could the man who scored 107 goals in 126 appearances for FC United of Manchester be the man to bring the title back to Tallaght?
Ex Manchester United youngster Christy Fagan is without a doubt one of the best strikers in the league, having proved that during spells with Bohemians and St Patrick’s Athletic, where he netted 12 league goals last term. The Saints will be hoping Fagan won’t follow Croly and James Chambers in jumping ship to Rovers, but with Fagan on the PFAI transfer list that must be a real possibility. Pats must act swiftly to secure their man or risk losing him to their fierce rivals.
The Tubbercurry Tornado has spent most of his career at Sligo Rovers, helping guide The Bit O’Red to their monumental league success this year. Cretaro may well choose to remain in the North West and help Ian Baraclough’s men in their attempt to reach the Champions League but a return to Dublin, where he previously spent time at Bohemians, may tempt him. Any move would see him link up with ex-teammate Jason McGuinness, who opted to make the move from Sligo this week. Cretaro’s future is certainly up in the air and he like Fagan is also available on a free transfer. Although if Croly is looking for a long term replacement he may have to look elsewhere.
Ten goal Quigley, undoubtedly one of the best players in the league will always be a target for the top clubs. Croly may well be able to persuade the Dubliner to make a return to Rovers, having spent time there in 2005 but with such potential Rovers may find themselves fighting for Quigley’s signature against English, Scottish and American opposition as Millwall may be keen to bring Quigley back to the Den on a free transfer. However Quigley would be the perfect replacement for Twigg and any return to Tallaght could be the start of heralding the era of a new Rovers legend.
Rovers could pursue alternative avenues in their search to replace Twigg. His replacement may already be at the club but it remains to be seen whether the likes of Gary O’Neill, Ciaran Kilduff or Tommy Stewart can emerge from his shadows. Much hope has been placed on the shoulders of young Aaron Greene who may thrive if given the opportunity but ultimately Croly may choose to entirely revamp his frontline.
Other possibilities could be Drogheda United star Declan O’Brien but it is highly doubtful he will leave the Boynesiders following the great season they have had.
There is also th epossibility that Rovers may look to the first division for a longer-term replacement, crazy as it sounds. Danny Furlong, Seanie Maguire and Kevin McHugh all topped the goalscoring charts with 13 goals each. A move for Furlong, who had a remarkable season despite personal tragedy, and Maguire, regarded as the next big thing in League of Ireland may not be too far from reality.
Or maybe Croly will use his contacts elsewhere and we may see a foreign import drafted in to replace Rovers’ best ever foreign player.