With the new League of Ireland season kicking off on Friday evening, we take a look at five signings who could have a huge impact at their new clubs this campaign.
1) Darragh Leahy (Dundalk)
No stranger to the league, Dundalk’s signing of Irish U21 fullback Darragh Leahy from Bohemians was considered a major coup in the off-season.
Despite a disappointing end to last season due to injury, Leahy has experience aplenty having played and impressed in two full seasons at Dalymount Park, despite still being just 21 years of age.
Leahy faces a battle with the experienced Dane Massey for the left-back spot at Oriel Park, but the Irish U21 international has all the tools to make the position his own as the season goes on.
A vital part of Stephen Kenny’s ever impressive U21 side, Leahy’s marauding full-back style will likely be a huge asset for Vinnie Perth’s charges and if he can steer clear of injuries, the former Coventry man could make a real impact with the champions this season.
2) Barry McNamee (Finn Harps)
If Finn Harps are to make the most of avoiding the drop to the First Division last season, and make a real push up the table this year, then Barry McNamee will be a crucial part of that.
The 27-year-old left Derry City during the off-season with a host of clubs around the league understandably courting the talented midfielder.
It was, rather surprisingly, Ollie Horgan’s side who won the race for his signature, with McNamee’s addition thought to be a real coup for Harps.
McNamee has the ability to change games on his own at times and alongside his brother, Tony, who also re-signed for the upcoming season, he will be hoping he can help Harps steer clear of the drop.
— Finn Harps FC (@FinnHarpsFC) February 8, 2020
3) Liam Scales (Shamrock Rovers)
Another Irish U21 international who was on the move during the off-season, Liam Scales made the switch from relegated UCD to Shamrock Rovers in November.
UCD struggled for the majority of last season, but Scales was one of their most impressive performers, with his displays at centre-half for the students catching the eye of English clubs like Bristol Rovers and Fleetwood Town.
Scales though will continue the next chapter of his career at Tallaght Stadium and will provide strong competition for Lee Grace and Roberto Lopes at the heart of the Rovers defence, while his recent displays with the Irish U21s proved he can also slot in at left-back.
The 20-year-old is confident on the ball and strong in the air and is just the kind of signing required for Rovers to push on and seriously challenge Dundalk for the title this season.
4) Dylan McGlade (Cork City)
After a brief spell in England with Blyth Spartans, attacking midfielder Dylan McGlade returned to Ireland over the Christmas where he was snapped up by Neale Fenn and Cork City.
The 24-year-old has the experience of playing under Fenn at Longford Town where he scored 16 goals and provided seven assists in 2018, getting nominated for First Division Player of the Year in addition to winning a spot in the team of the year.
McGlade’s flair and attacking ability will be a welcome addition to Turner’s Cross and if he can hit form the former Middlesbrough academy talent could be a really smart signing for City.
Last season at Bray he impressed, again making the team of the year, and will surely be relishing the chance to prove himself in the Premier Division after his exploits in the second tier.
5) Will Patching (Dundalk)
A former Manchester City prospect moving to the League of Ireland in a bid to kick-start his career? Where have we heard that one before?
The Jack Byrne comparisons will no doubt follow 21-year-old Patching around at the beginning of the campaign, but Dundalk fans will not be complaining if the attacking midfielder can emulate the Irish international’s impact on the league.
Patching played six times in League 2 for Notts County last season after joining from Manchester City, but failed to really make much of an impact at the club before departing at the end of the campaign.
A natural number ten who, according to his former County teammate Michael Doyle, is brilliant with the ball at his feet, Patching’s addition into an already quality team could end up being an extremely intelligent piece of business from Vinnie Perth’s side.
— will patching (@willpatching_) November 20, 2019