LOI BEST BETS – 17th & 18th May 2024

LOI TV Commentator & host of Between the Stripes LOI podcast, Kieran Burke aims to find us some winners from this weekends League of Ireland action.


Dundalk FC has become the story of the season and not for the right reasons. Aside from one of the biggest clubs in Ireland finding themselves rooted to the foot of the Premier Division table, there appears to be total chaos behind the scenes at Oriel Park with Brian Gartland’s departure earlier this week the latest headline generator.

Even the clubs supporters have hit the headlines in recent days with the 1903 supporters group publishing an open letter to Dundalk FC chairman Brian Ainscough in which the fan group demanded the owner revert his decision to appoint Noel King as manager.

King, who had not been involved in the men’s league for over twenty years prior to his shock appointment at Dundalk, has made little effort to hide the fact he has taken a backseat role since arriving at the club with Liam Burns and the now departed Gartland the most vocal presences at the edge of the Lilywhites technical area.

Whether the exit of Gartland will see King become more active on matchdays remains to be seen but it’s difficult to shift the feeling that this Dundalk side appear rudderless at present with relegation almost certain unless they can come together and find a way to turn things around on and off the pitch as a united front.

Shamrock Rovers boss Stephen Bradley surely wont be pleased with a return of just one win in six but with the likes of Jack Byrne, Graham Burke, Neil Farrugia and Trevor Clarke all slowly coming back on stream from injury absences, it’s surely only a matter of time before the four-in-a-row league champions revert to type.

BEST BET: Shamrock Rovers (13/20)


These two teams couldn’t be greater opposites. Cork City aren’t exactly a pretty watch at times but they are meticulously organised and know how to win. Bray Wanderers on the other hand have a far more Laissez-faire outlook on the game, they score lots of goals but they concede them by the boatload too, they often find a way to lose very winnable games.

Cork City’s no nonsense approach sees the Rebels unbeaten and 8 points clear at the top after 15 matches while Bray Wanderers have lost 6 of their 15 matches and sit fifth in the table.

The Seagulls have lost two of their last three matches while Cork City recorded an emphatic 3-0 derby day success away to Cobh Ramblers on Friday, a fourth win in five for Tim Clancy’s side.

The reverse fixture saw Cork City run out 2-0 winners, that is one of ten clean sheets recorded by the league leaders this term. Bray can only dream of such consistency at the back having produced just four shut outs this season.

Some have criticised Cork City for not winning with more style at times this season but the fact that they recorded such an emphatic win on the road last time could be ominous for the rest of the division.

BEST BET: Cork City (9/10)


The second Midlands league derby of the season is going to have to be quite the game if it’s to live up to what these sides produced when they met earlier in the season. Leading 3-0 at half-time in the first league encounter of the year, Longford Town somehow blew their half-time cushion with Athlone Town incredibly unlucky not to come away with all three points in the end as the sides shared a six goal thriller at Lissywoolen.

That game will go down as one of the great meetings between these two old foes but there’s every chance supporters will be treated to another exciting clash on Saturday with both teams in relatively good form.

Having gone 12 games without a win, a run which resulted in Stephen Henderson losing his job, Longford Town have now won two of their last three and can feel unlucky not to be on an unbeaten run of three, having lost out to Finn Harps with a late goal either side of much needed wins at home to fellow strugglers Kerry FC and Treaty United.

While the search for a new manager continues, interim Head Coach Wayne Groves appears to have stoked a response from his players with some much improved individual and collective displays.

As for Athlone Town, the Westmeath outfit sit third in the table following an unbeaten sequence of four wins from six matches. A little like Bray, Athlone Town aren’t exactly masters at shutting a game down, they give you chances and will go through as many rocky patches of form as they have purple patches.

The market makes Athlone (11/8) favourites on Saturday, for me, that is correct. Athlone Town are third, Longford are second bottom and have yet to beat a team of note this season. Athlone have a good recent record in the fixture but as I’ve eluded to, they just can’t be relied on.

As a result, I’m looking towards a banker this weekend, albeit at a short price. Longford have created more chances in four matches under Wayne Groves than they created all season under the previous manager while Athlone Town are among the divisions great entertainers for scoring and conceding in equal measure, as their goal difference of 0 indicates. Let’s hope for another goal fest between the two Midlands clubs.

BEST BET: BTTS (13/20)

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article