After the summer sabbatical, Dublin Hospitals FC (DHFC) find themselves amongst familiar foes in the Leinster Senior League (LSL) Major 1B Saturday. The 2022-23 season proved difficult for DHFC, with only a three-game winning run at the tail end of the year ensuring they clawed themselves away from relegation and into the comfort of mid-table. However, embarking on their third campaign in the division, DHFC will be hoping to make strides this season in their bid for promotion.
World cup winners
Despite the break for DHFC, it wasn’t a summer on the beach for everyone. A team of doctors, led by a core of DHFC players including Andy Delaney, Fionn Nally, Brian Gaffney, David Gildea, and Oisin Pennycook, travelled to Vienna to compete in the World Medical Football Championships. After securing knockout wins against two talented sides in Hungary and Spain, Ireland went on to beat a combined Great Britain team 1-0 in the final to secure the medical world cup trophy.
With many of these players now returning to DHFC, this time with a gold medal in tow, hopes are high that the momentum of a world cup win can carry on into this season.
Changing of the guard
The offseason transfer window often brings a flurry of changes for DHFC, with 2023 being no exception. Mirroring Saudi Arabia’s influence this summer on the professional game, Australia has once again proven to be a drain of talent, with DHFC losing three of its brightest prospects from last season in Kevin Caldwell, Oisin Pennycook, and James Clarke to the beaches of Perth. Other notable departures include centre-back Ray Winters, winger Eddie Wrynn and versatile midfielder Rob Trueick. This season will also be the first in the club’s existence to not feature Andy Delaney, after the DHFC stalwart has decided to hang up his boots following the medical world cup. Amassing over 300 appearances for the club, Andy has been through all the highs and lows of the club’s history. Despite this announcement, we would be remiss to rule out a Paul Scholes-esque return from retirement if called upon this season.
Whilst the players departing will each be a bitter pill to swallow, the summer recruitment has overall been positive, with a flurry of incoming signings. Cork Hospitals FC have been poached of two of their top talents in Dave Synott and Darren Roche. Dave joins as a world cup winner, and hopes are high that this speedy winger will have an immediate impact on the side. Darren, meanwhile, will provide a combative presence in defensive midfield, as well as offering the ability to play a box-to-box role. Centre-back Colm Kirby is no stranger to DHFC and he rejoins after a year spent in London. The former captain will hope to pick things up where he left off and is another who now has a world cup winners’ medal to his name. Finally, Niall O’Gorman has also signed for DHFC this season. The athletic full-back has shown great versatility in pre-season games, being deployed both in defence and on the wing.
However, it’s not all change, with many players choosing to once again run out in the green and white colours of DHFC. Top scorer from last year David Gildea will be hoping to make it back-to-back golden boots for the club, with Brian Gaffney targeting a similar season of production after leading the way last year with eight assists. In midfield, Rory Durand and John Cosgrove will once again be responsible for being the engine of the team, both on and off the pitch. The pair go into their third season as the club’s management staff and have been busy over the summer hiatus laying the foundations for a successful run this year.
New hunting grounds
DHFC will leave the gates of Pearse Street Park for pastures new this season, with Trinity’s Iveagh Sports Grounds recently announced as the new homebase for the team. The floodlit grass pitch will hopefully be the perfect ground for DHFC’s expansive play, and the home opener is now only just around the corner.
Overall, DHFC will hope to build on the momentum forged at the end of last season and carried on in the summer with an Irish medical world cup win. No strangers to LSL Major 1B Saturday, only time will tell how far up the table the team can climb this year.