Following a busy Easter period in the League of Ireland, LOI TV Commentator and host of Between the Stripes LOI podcast, Kieran Burke looks ahead to Friday’s “best bets” for the domestic football.


It didn’t take new Bohemians manager Alan Reynolds too long to pick up his first three points with the Gypsies with Bohs winning 2-0 in Galway on Easter Monday in what was Rennie’s second game in charge.

Bohs came unstuck against their arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers on Good Friday but the fact that they were able to go to a packed out Deacy Park just days later and beat Galway at their own game is a positive sign.

For too long, Bohemians have been viewed as a soft touch and Reynolds has spoken about how he wants to turn his dressing room of nice guys into winners. Defending set-pieces was a huge issue for Bohs under the previous manager but not only did they withstand Galway’s advances on Monday but both of Bohemians goals came from dead-ball situations.

As for Reynolds former club Waterford, who are managed by ex-Bohs boss Keith Long, the Blues are now on a winless run of four matches after a positive start to the season. The Munster men lost out 2-1 at home to Shamrock Rovers on Monday with Hoops defender Pico Lopes scoring a wonderful headed winner.

A more direct approach from Bohs could return some dividends at Dalymount Park on Friday night.

BEST BET: Bohemians (6/5)


Two teams who were booed off by their own fans over Easter meet at the Ryan McBride Brandywell on Friday night. Derry City were jeered at both half-time and full-time as they lost at home to newly promoted Galway last week while there were little signs of any extra urgency on Monday as the Candystripes played out the dullest of scoreless draws in Dublin against league leaders Shelbourne.

Dundalk produced another tepid display in defeat at Tolka Park on Friday before registering just one shot on target at home to ten-man Drogheda on Monday in one of the worst Louth derbies in recent memory.

The reasons behind each team’s recent lackluster displays are very different. Derry City are blessed with quality all across the park but appear to be wedded to a mind-numbingly boring and conservative style of play while Dundalk are working with what appears to be a very limited group of players both in terms of experience and quality.

Both managers are now under intense scrutiny, especially Dundalk’s Stephen O’Donnell who told fans that they need to wake up to the realisation of the club’s current situation, the words of a manager feeling the strain of widespread calls for his head.

All of that tension should add to what is already a fiery fixture given the amount of transfer traffic between the two clubs in recent years. Patrick Hoban was THE transfer saga of the off-season as Dundalk’s all-time leading goalscorer swapped Oriel Park for Foyleside in acrimonious circumstances.

Hoban has already netted six goals in eight league appearances, including a hattrick and he is clearly a man with a point to prove against his former employers. Derry City need to ditch the possession obsession and get the ball up to the big man as often as possible on Friday night because as we’ve seen so many times down the years, Hoban is likely to be the difference.

BEST BET: Derry City (1/2)


Two teams still looking for an elusive first win of the season but so far, it’s been night and day in terms of performance levels when comparing Kerry FC and Longford Town this term.

The Kingdom are currently on their longest unbeaten run since joining the league last season with Kerry claiming five consecutive draws while Longford Town have led in four of their six league games but are rooted to the bottom of the table after three defeats and three draws.

Friday’s 2-1 home defeat against UCD has to go down as the worst performance of the Stephen Henderson era at Longford and while they had some sort of bounce back by claiming a point in Cobh on Monday, it was another game in which they let the lead slip and conceded a truly awful goal.

Injuries are mounting again at Longford with the absence of key defensive midfielder Viktor Serdeniuk particularly damaging at present. A run of four games in 14 days hasn’t helped and Henderson has promised supporters improved results once the schedule settles down again after this game on Friday.

Patience is wearing thin, however, with De Town faithful who expect to see their team challenging for a play-off place this season, Longford need a win soon to defuse tensions.

Town fans frustrations are probably being compounded further when they see baby face Kerry competing in every game and picking up results, even if they too are struggling to see games out and secure that first W of the campaign.

Longford struggled in the tight surrounds of Mounthawk Park last season with the Midlanders fortunate to come away with a 3-2 win during their first visit to Tralee before dropping two crucial points in a dour scoreless draw towards the end of the season. In truth, Longford never really recovered from that result as the wheels came off their play-off push soon after.

Despite scoring in all but one of their league games to date, Longford appear to lack creativity in the final third and Kerry are sure to be compact and difficult to play through on Friday which won’t suit struggling Longford.

Kerry have only scored 2+ goals on one occasion this season and that was in a defeat at home to Bray but they’ve had chances at key times in other matches this season that they’ve failed to take but given Longford have one of the worst defensive records in the division, the home side should get opportunities on the break.

The Munster men are still seeking a first-ever home league win but there’s a feeling that it’s not far away and that overall the Kerry project is heading in the right direction. The same can’t be said for Longford who look unsure of themselves at present and that may allow Kerry to claim a slice of history this weekend.

BEST BET: Kerry draw no bet (7/5)


Bray Wanderers Head Coach Ian Ryan appeared to lay down the gauntlet to his players following Monday’s latest defeat in Donegal against Finn Harps. The 2-0 defeat marked Bray’s fourth loss from eight matches with just one victory but what’s more worrying is the Wicklow side’s defensive record.

The Seagulls have shipped an eyewatering 17 goals so far this season, more than any other side in the entire country. However, Bray are the top goal scorers across both divisions with Friday’s visitors Athlone just a single goal shy of Bray in the Goals For column leaving us with all the ingredients for a right smash-up at the Carlisle Grounds.

Five of Bray’s eight matches have featured over 2.5 goals with both teams scoring in all but two of those contests while there has been over 2.5 goals in exactly half of Athlone’s matches with a couple of manic 3-3 draws thrown into the mix.



The first Cork derby of the campaign takes place at Turners Cross with both sides making relatively pleasing starts to the season.

Cork City remain top of the table and unbeaten but Monday’s home draw with Wexford was viewed as disappointing by the home faithful while Cobh Ramblers drew both of their matches over the Easter period away to Bray and at home to Longford.

There’s a huge contrast on the pressure and expectations surrounding the county rivals with nothing other than the title acceptable to City supporters while Cobh were tipped to struggle by many after losing their manager Shane Keegan and a host of key players during the off-season.

In fact, Ramblers star man Jack Doherty left to sign for Cork and he’s hit the ground running with four goals in seven appearances. Despite suffering those blows, new Cobh boss Gary Hunt has made his side competitive with the Rams only losing twice and only once by a margin greater than a goal and that was on the opening night away to Treaty United.

Cork City fans will be demanding an improved showing for this local derby and they are likely to get a response with the Rebels dominating the H2H record in this fixture.

BEST BET: Cork City (Awaiting odds).

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article