Week one of the League of Ireland took a long time to warm up shall we say as all five games ended up being fairly scrappy 1-0 affairs but with some competitive minutes now under the belt and new players slow bedding in to their respective sides we should see slightly more quality on show in game week two.
WATERFORD v BOHEMIANS, FRI 7.45PM
What a start for Alan Reynolds and his Waterford side last Friday as they out muscled a St.Pat’s side many have tipped for a top three finish this term.
We discussed in last weeks preview how the Munster side were forced to leave their transfer business late in the day whereas St.Pat’s boss Stephen O’Donnell had the luxury of clearing out what he viewed as dead wood during the off-season and bringing in some potentially promising signings.
Despite that, it was the Blues who look a more organised outfit at Richmond Park and on last weeks Between the Stripes LOI podcast sponsored by BarOneRacing.com LOI pundit Alan Cawley tipped Waterford as a surprise challenger for Europe this term.
A win over a Bohs team who achieved that feat last season would send out a major message of intent to the rest of the league and with the Gypsies arriving to the RSC off the back of a gutting Dublin derby defeat against arch foes Shamrock Rovers then there is every chance the Blues will go 2-2 this season.
The loss of top marksman Dinny Corcoran in the warm up last Friday will have been a bitter pill for Keith Long to swallow and it does leave the Dubliners looking a little light in the striking department.
With a big home crowd expected let’s side with a home win here.
SELECTION: Waterford (85/40)
SLIGO v ST.PAT’S, FRI 7.45PM
It’s early days of course but these are two sides who have major issues to address. Let’s start with the hosts, Sligo Rovers lost the spine of their side in the off-season and their recruitment has been extremely underwhelming.
As a result, many are flagging up the former Premier Division winners as relegation candidates this season and they definitely played like a relegation candidate in the defeat away to Finn Harps last weekend.
St.Pat’s performance at home to Waterford wasn’t much better but the Saints did show something going forward after going behind and were probably unlucky not to take something from the game in the end with returning Blues goalkeeper Brian Murphy pulling off some magnificent saves while Ian Bermingham missed a point blank header when it looked easier to score.
I’m really worried for Sligo Rovers this season, particularly in regards to the lack of evident goal scorers in their team whereas at least St.Pat’s created some golden chances in defeat last week and in Billy King they may have unearthed a real creative spark so I’m going for an away win here.
SELECTION: St.Pat’s (7/5)
SHELBOURNE v DUNDALK, FRI 7.45PM
Let’s be clear, Shelbourne are a club with massive potential back in the top-flight of Irish football and talk of a potential sell-out for the arrival of the champions backs that up, even if Tolka Park has seen better days.
The Reds got off to a flyer on Friday as ex-Dundalk man Ciaran Kilduff nodded in from close range after Cork City failed to defend a Shelbourne corner and that was enough to see Ian Morris collect his first three points as a Premier Division manger.
However, the arrival of Dundalk to Drumcondra will represent an entirely different test and Shels will have to be at their very best defensively if they are to shut out the Lilywhites.
Dundalk were disappointing in victory at home to Derry on the opening night, a Dane Massey volley from a corner enough to undo a stubborn Derry City, but with that win being the Town’s first week one triumph in three seasons it should be a good physiological boosts for Vinny Perth’s men.
I’d expect the likes of Michael Duffy and co to show a lot more against Shels than they did last week against a well organised Derry while in Cammy Smith Dundalk may have unearthed a gem so I have to call an away win here.
SELECTION: Dundalk (2/5)
DERRY CITY v FINN HARPS, FRI 7.45
A local derby containing two sides that caught the eye on opening weekend but it was Finn Harps who claimed three points while Derry City came away from Oriel pointless.
Derry City were very much set up to take their chances on the counter last week but will be expected to play on the front foot in front of a rocking Brandywell Stadium while Finn Harps are well…..Finn Harps, they are always well organised and fairly direct.
Tim Nielsen caught the eye at Oriel on Friday with the overseas addition making some lovely runs off the ball and was unlucky not to register on his debut while McDonagh and Lupano also stood out.
As for Harps, all eyes will be on ex-Derry man Barry McNamee as he lines up gainst his local team but for me Derry City showed enough last week to suggest they are well set up for a decent 2020 campaign and I expect them to rout their local rivals here.
SELECTION: DERRY CITY (1/3)
OTHER BET(s): Derry City -2 (12/5)
Derry City 3-0 (13/2)
SHAMROCK ROVERS v CORK CITY, FRI 8PM
If I’m worried for Sligo’s top-flight future then I have to be concerned about Cork City’s too. Off-field whispers of financial issues at the club have only further added to the sense that Neale Fenn may have boarded a sinking ship at Turners Cross with the former Longford boss being forced to look largely to the First Division and lower English leagues for talent.
Gone are the days the Rebels could attract star names like Kieran Saldlier to the club from other LOI rivals and with the likes of Conor McCormack and Karl Sheppard setting off for pastures new in the off-season this is a very inexperienced side.
Bohemians hoodoo over Shamrock Rovers is well and truly dead after the Hoops pounced late to win last Saturday’s Dublin derby and the psychological boost that should give goal scorer Aaron Greene could bode very well for Rovers fans for the season ahead.
Greene has often been criticised for not been clinical enough in front of goal but his tap in off the back of James Talbot’s spill is something you’d expect from a seasoned poacher and if Greene can add that element to his all round game he could be a contender for the golden boot.
Cork City were toothless in attack at home to Shels last week and they will be coming up a much classier opponent here, this could turn nasty if Rovers score early.
SELECTION: Shamrock Rovers (4/15)
OTHER BETS: Rovers -2 (12/5)
Rovers 3-0 (5/1)