Champions could be minus men for kick-off

Liam Smyth presenting the D & d cup to Pol Browne of Top of the Hill Celtic.  (1904JB50)
Liam Smyth presenting the D & d cup to Pol Browne of Top of the Hill Celtic. (1904JB50)

THE DERRY & District F.A. will hold a meeting ahead of the new season in the A.O.H. Showrooms at 7.30 p.m. on Monday, August 8th.

The new season kicks off on Sunday, August 14th so it is important that all clubs are represented and hand in a list of their signed players.

At the meeting held on Monday, July 25th the committee was left with no choice but to dismiss Dungloe from the Association after they did not appear and pay their entry fee, despite being informed about the meeting. There has been no contact from them since the season finished last May. The chairman contacted them a couple of weeks before the July 25th meeting and got no satisfaction from them, nor did the games’ organiser with text messages.

Preview of the new season

Champions, Top of the Hill, who have picked up the Premier Division title for the past two seasons, losing only one league game in the process, are reported to have lost some of their title winning squad and this could have a big say in their chances of making it a hat-trick of titles.

Stephen Johnston has taken over from Jock Dunne as manager of Three Flowers who finished runners-up last season and they are expected to have a strong squad of players.

Paddy Travers continues to rebuild his Porter’s side and they cannot be counted out of the title chase. Tristar manager, Ryan Horner has added quite a few experienced players to last season’s squad and they could be the surprise package in what is sure to be a very competitive division.

Celtic Swifts and Brandywell Harps’ hopes of silverware could be confined to the cups as both are expected to have young squads. Abercorn also have new men at the helm in George McGowan and Gareth ‘Pip’ Cassidy and it may take them time to sort out a title winning team.

Downey’s, under Gerard McFarland, had a superb first season in the Premier Division and he will be hoping to build on that. Don Boscos struggled last term and just managed to escape relegation. Liam Bonner lost most of his young players to Derry City which was a big problem for him. Of the two promoted teams, Lisahally and Trojans both need to bring in new faces if they hope to survive in this top division but, of the two, Lisahally are expected to fare best.

In the First Division, there are four new teams, Ballymoor, Campbell’s, Gainsborough and A.O.H. Of these four, Ballymoor are expected to fare best. Oxford Colts, relegated last term, will be favourites to make a quick return to the Premier Division.

The Bentley could well be their closest challengers as they under-achieved last term. Culmore and Strand United could also be contenders if they find a bit of consistency while Christy McGeehan will be hoping for a better season from his Phoenix side.

Oakgrove and Maydown occupied the bottom two places last term but both should improve this time round.