LOI BEST BETS – Mon, March 4th

LOI TV commentator & host of Between the Stripes LOI podcastKieran Burke delivers his best bets for the first set of Monday night fixtures in the new LOI season.

Friday night’s LOI fixture schedule was decimated by the Dublin snow with both Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers home matches postponed while in the First Division, Bray Wanderers and Wexford’s home games also fell foul to the inclement conditions. However, we did get a winning bet up in our week 3 column thanks to Finn Harps comfortable home win against Athlone Town.

Attention now turns to Monday’s Premier Division fixtures with some massive matches taking place, including a battle of the top two from last season as Shamrock Rovers host Derry City, live on Virgin Media in what is a Double The Odds First Goalscorer match with Bar One Racing.

In Friday’s column, I shied away from the top-flight fixtures as they looked incredibly competitive, plus results have been even more unpredictable than usual in this wonderful league over the first few weeks of the new campaign.

Monday nights fixtures fall into the same bracket but I’m going to stick my neck out for the big game in Tallaght and call a first win of the season for Shamrock Rovers.

SHAMROCK ROVERS v DERRY CITY – Mon, 7.45, Virgin Media TV.

The Hoops have once again got off to a sluggish start this season but they had the benefit of a break on Friday after their game was called off while Derry played out an intense contest with St.Patrick’s Athletic. While the Candystripes won that game with a stunning late strike from substitute Danny Mullen, I wasn’t overly impressed with Derry’s display.

Excuses can again be made in regards to the awful Brandywell playing surface but there’s no hiding away from the fact that it was a fairly low quality affair against St.Pat’s. Credit should go to Derry City boss Ruaidhrí Higgins as his second half changes ultimately made the difference but I’m expecting a response from the champions here after a Dublin derby defeat at Shelbourne last time out.

Rovers defending was static to say the least in the first half at Tolka Park as Damien Duff’s men raced into a 2-0 advantage but the introduction of Graham Burke and Marcus Poom either side of the half-time whistle by Stephen Bradley transformed Rovers performance for the remainder of the game.

When Rory Gaffney scored inside the opening five minutes of the second period, a Rovers reversal looked likely but credit to Shels, they clung on to claim a big win over the champions.

Both Rovers and Derry look set to meet each other without a host of key players due to early season niggles but Rovers are in a far stronger position personnel wise than they were when the Candystripes won in Tallaght in the early part of last season.

The Hoops went into that game missing multiple defenders through injuries and suspensions with middfielders Gary O’Neill and Sean Kavanagh making up a back three with full-back Sean Gannon. Despite the make shift nature of their defence, Derry weren’t overly convincing despite a 2-1 win.

Rovers would go on to win the next two H2H clashes to nil before scoring a late equaliser at the Brandywell during the title run in. Graham Burke’s penalty essentially secured the Hoops a fourth consecutive league title that night.

If the Champions can carry their second half efforts from the Shels game into this game on Monday night, they may end up having too much for a Derry team who had to empty the tank when squeezing past the Saints on Friday.

BEST BET: Shamrock Rovers (6/5)


My general thoughts on the other four games on Monday are as follows, Shelbourne v Galway United could be a low scoring affair given how both managers like to set up, St.Pat’s look no sure things away to a Waterford side who have stepped up to this level quite impressively so far, Dundalk against Sligo Rovers could be another low scoring affair given both teams testing starts while Drogheda United v Bohemians is too tight to call for me.

Best of luck, everyone!

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article