COBH Ramblers were the big losers when the FAI's licensing committee granted licenses for the new season on Monday. The Cork side has been demoted to the League of Ireland's A Division, with Kildare County re-instated in the First Division. Athlone Town, Cork City and Kildare were given licenses on the basis that financial commitments they have made will be honored before the start of the 2009 season . . . DROGHEDA United's new boss Alan Matthews has signed former UCD defender Conor Kenna and Dundalk midfielder Paul Shiels. Robbie Farrell, Jamie Duffy, Paul Crowley and Ian Ryan have also signed up from Dundalk . . . NEW St. Patrick's Athletic manager Jeff Kenna will face his old club Galway United on the opening night of the new League of Ireland season on Friday, March 6. Defending champions Bohs are away to Dundalk the same night . . . RICHIE Baker has returned to Shelbourne from Drogheda while Bohs youngster Paddy Madden has joined the Reds on loan. Full-back Stephen Quigley has also signed for Keely . . . IRELAND will warm up for the World Cup visit to Bulgaria in June with a London friendly against Nigeria on May 29 at Fulham's Craven Cottage ground . . . PAUL Cook has returned to Sligo Rovers as manager and completed the signings of Derry's Owen Morrison and Finn Harps striker Stephen Parkhouse . . . IRISH under-21 striker Terry Dixon has signed for West Ham just 18 months after Spurs told him he would never play professional football again . . . FORMER Irish defender Stephen Carr looks set to end his retirement by signing for Championship side Birmingham City.
Why all Irish men’s beards are red