LOI First Division Treble For Friday Night

LOI TV Commentator & host of Between the Stripes LOI podcast, Kieran Burke looks ahead to Friday’s First Division matches with the Premier Division subject to the international break.


It’s a meeting of the top two on Friday night as second-placed Treaty United host league leaders and title favourites Cork City.

While Tim Clancy’s City side are yet to dazzle, their professionalism and ability to control a game sets them out from the rest in what looks to be a rather weak second-tier this season. That fact is most evident when you look at the Rebels defensive record with City recording four clean sheets from their opening five matches. Clean sheets win you this division and Cork City have set their stall out early in that regard.

Cork City have been ruthless in front of goal this season.

Treaty United on the other hand have been something of a surprise package so far this season. The Limerick men were expected to find it tough going after a difficult off-season but Tommy Barrett looks to have once again assembled a side that are capable of being competitive at this level.

The fact that their intended trip to Longford was called off last weekend is probably no bad thing ahead of a game like this, especially as Cork City’s players have all the time in the world to rest and recover given they are a full-time outfit, unlike every other team in the First Division.

Treaty have conceded less than a goal per game so far and like City are unbeaten but Bray Wanderers appeared to unearth some defensive vulnerabilities a fortnight ago in a 2-2 draw in Limerick with the home side lucky to escape with their unbeaten record still intact.

Tommy Barrett’s side will have to be an awful lot more solid than that against a shrewd Cork City who have shown a clinical nature in front of goal this season.

BEST BET: Cork City (7/10)


Finn Harps bounced back from their shock defeat at home to Cobh Ramblers a fortnight ago by coming from behind to defeat Wexford on the road last Friday. Harps record now reads three wins from five matches which sees the Donegal men sitting comfortably inside the top three and despite such a finish seemingly unlikely before a ball was kicked this year, there’s little to suggest Harps can’t push to be best of the rest behind Cork City this term.

Darren Murphy’s team are the joint top scorers in the division alongside the league leaders with much of their success in front of goal thanks to the presence of their new number nine Success Edogon. Aside from his goals, Edogun brings a lot more to this Harps team, he is such a distraction for opposition defences that he opens up lots of space for team mates as seen for Patrick Ferry’s goal against Wexford last time with Edogon dropping deep and playing a sublime ball on to outside of his boot to set up the chance.

As for Kerry, they look more competitive than last season but still lack an ability to see out games, they are still very green which is understandable. David Crawley scored Finn Harps late winner in Wexford, the midfielder has played out his entire career in the top-flight of Irish football up until now, winning major honours and featuring in European competition, he has more experience than the entire Kerry squad combined, that’s the challenge for Kerry in competing at this level.

Kerry have only lost one game by more than the odd goal this season, they’ll go up to Donegal and make it difficult for Harps but I expect them to come up short again.

BEST BET: Finn Harps (6/10)


The fixture known as the Midlands “El Clasico” takes place in Lissywoolen on Friday night as the towns of Athlone and Longford collide in a crucial First Division contest.

Athlone burst out of the traps this season with an opening night 3-0 hammering of Wexford FC but have yet to win since while Longford have frustratingly played just two matches due to weather postponements, losing both games.

While you’d naturally have concerns about Longford being undercooked going into a game like this, Athlone Town certainly won’t have such worries given they played a fairly strong side in the Leinster Senior Cup away to Drogheda on Tuesday, a game the hosts comfortably won 4-0.

Even taking into account the fact that Athlone were playing a superior Premier Division side, they were still very poor on the night. More worryingly for Athlone supporters was their performance against UCD last Friday, a game that ended 3-0 to the Students with Athlone defender Dylan Hand shown a straight red card.

Athlone have now conceded 13 goals in their last five matches in all competitions while they failed to score in three of those games.

Longford Town’s defensive record isn’t much hotter with Stephen Henderson’s charges shipping five goals across their two games, but they played well in snatches against Cork City before making two individual errors that were punished by a clinical Cork City.

Athlone will not only be without Hand but they also have two players away on international duty, Longford will be viewing this fixture as the ideal way to kickstart their season after a stuttering start.

Players such as Bastien Hery and Conor Crowley have the ability to run this game in the midfield for Longford while Chris Lyons will be keen to rediscover the scoring touch having bagged a brace on the opening night of the season in a 2-3 defeat against Finn Harps.

BEST BET: Longford Town (13/8)

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