LOI TV commentator & host of Between the Stripes LOI podcast, Kieran Burke delivers his best bets for week 2 of the new LOI season.

The opening weekend of any league season can often prove to be unpredictable and that was certainly the case as the new League of Ireland campaign kicked off last week. Champions Shamrock Rovers were held at home by a new look Dundalk side, newly promoted Waterford FC were unlucky not to come away with all three points against Shelbourne while in the First Division Athlone Town blew away a Wexford side many are tipping to push Cork City for the title.

Over the coming weeks, things should begin to settle down a little as we go in search of some winners. Without further ado, here are my selections for this weekend:


The Saints bounced back from their disappointing display in the Presidents Cup by dispatching newly promoted Galway United 0-1 in front of a packed out Eamonn Deacy Park on Friday night. Jamie Lennon’s early powerful strike was enough to settle a contest that was played in dreadful weather conditions and on a very difficult Galway playing surface.

Despite being out possessed, St.Pat’s never really looked under any real threat and still managed to register 12 attempts at goal with 3 shots on target compared to the hosts one SOT.

Returning to Richmond Park for the visit of a Bohemians side, who needed a last gasp goal to rescue a point at home to Sligo on the opening night, we should expect to see the FAI Cup holders up their possession percentage substantially from their trip to the West.

Bohs boss Declan Devine is many peoples favourite to win the dreaded “sack race” and the former Derry City manager must be thanking his lucky stars for James Clarke’s late goal last week. Without it, the pressure going into this Dublin derby, a repeat of last season’s FAI Cup final, would have been much greater.

Pat’s cruised to victory when the sides met at the Aviva Stadium for the Cup Final in November and despite only having 5 members of the Cup Final starting XI begin the league opener against Galway, Pat’s will be confident of repeating such a result in front of their home supporters.

Bohemians have also lost key players since the Cup Final with star striker Jonathan Afolabi moving to Belgian football but a big positive from the drab opening draw with Sligo was Afolabi’s replacement, Sten Reinkort getting off the mark to put Bohs 1-0 up.

This time last year, the Gypsies were getting off to a flying start with talk that they could be title contenders. Such confidence soon fizzled out as Bohemians finished a lowly sixth in the table. The game against Sligo was almost a mini summarisation of Bohs last season, start strong before fading away.

There’s a soft underbelly to this Bohemians team whereas St.Pat’s have often found a way to win when playing below their best since Jon Daly took over from Tim Clancy and that’s why I’m backing the Super Saints here.

BEST BET: St.Patrick’s Athletic (6/5)


Despite a real air of negativity seemingly hanging over Athlone in the off-season, the Midlanders blew promotion hopefuls Wexford FC out of the water on the opening night of the new First Division campaign.

Three first-half goals scored inside 37 minutes ended the game as a contest and while Athlone have a long journey to make this week, they should be confident of recording back-to-back wins.

Cobh Ramblers suffered the most damaging of close seasons by losing their inspirational manager Shane Keegan and their star player Jack Doherty, who scored a match winning brace on debut for Cork City on Friday.

The Rams were outplayed in Friday’s 3-1 loss away to Treaty United and could really struggle this season given the personal they’ve lost.

BEST BET: Athlone Town (9/5)

UCD AFC v Treaty United

Nobody really talked about UCD in pre-season but that’s nothing new. Despite the lack of fanfare, the Students sent out a message of intent for the year ahead by turning over a much hyped Bray Wanderers side 1-2 in a game in which UCD had 10 men for roughly an hour.

UCD were out of their depth in the top-flight last season but they’ve kept the bulk of that squad with Premier Division experience under their belt together and that could be a huge benefit to them.

Treaty United lost a lot of talent during the Winter but they got off to a strong start in front of a huge crowd with a 3-1 win at home to Cobh last weekend.

This is likely to be a tougher assignment on the road.



I advised readers last week that Finn Harps looked over priced to win in Longford last Saturday and things certainly weren’t looking good when Harps found themselves 2-0 down inside 14 minutes, but the Donegal men kept their cool before turning things around to win 2-3, thanks to a 94th minute winner.

This week, the team to keep an eye on at a price is Kerry FC. The Kingdom only won one league game during their inaugural LOI campaign but after some good work in the off-season, Kerry should be set up for a stronger showing this year.

I wouldn’t read too much into their 2-0 defeat in Cork last week, Cork City FC and Kerry FC are two entirely different animals. Kerry host Bray Wanderers this Friday with the visitors suffering an embarrassing home defeat against UCD despite the Students playing with ten men for an hour or so.

Bray’s inability to defend destroyed their promotion chances last season and judging by the goals they shipped against UCD, little has been learnt in the off-season. Could we see Kerry FC claim their first ever home win at LOI level?

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article