LOI BEST BETS – May 31st

LOI TV Commentator and host of Between the Stripes LOI Podcast, Kieran Burke picks out his best bets for Friday’s domestic matches.


This is a meeting of the league leaders and third from bottom Sligo Rovers. The gulf in league places isn’t the only stark contrast between the two sides, the difference in mentality at both of these clubs is off the charts.

Damien Duff has dipped into the Jose Mourinho playbook with the former Chelsea player building a siege mentality at Shelbourne, and it’s working. The Reds now sit nine points clear of last season’s champions after a statement 2-0 win in Tallaght last week, while Derry City are six points behind Shels at present.

The Drumcondra outfit have won their last three matches, conceding just one goal in the process while Friday’s opponents Sligo look genuine relegation candidates after a run of just one win in ten.

Shelbourne beat Sligo Rovers 1-0 away from home in March with Duff’s men going on to record eight more clean sheets across the 16 subsequent matches since that victory in the West.

The league leaders displayed the ultimate patience away to Shamrock Rovers last Friday, the away side sat in, soaked up the early Rovers pressure and then pounced on two defensive errors made by the hosts to secure a massive three points.

Shelbourne are arguably the best organised team in the league, they don’t cough up cheap goals like so many of their title rivals are doing this season, and they fight tooth and nail for every ball.

While Sligo Rovers earned plaudits for earning a point in the Brandywell last week, the goals conceded by both teams in that game were pathetic. Having led twice, Sligo Rovers failed to hold on to what would’ve been a massive three points, there is a softness about John Russell’s team and that tender underbelly could be exposed by a mean Shels team on Friday night.

BEST BET: Shelbourne (11/20)

BONUS BET: Shelbourne to win to nil (6/5)


The latest plot in the almost unbelievable Dundalk soap opera was unveiled late last week as Jon Daly was announced as the latest LAilywhites manager. Daly, who only left St.Pat’s a fortnight or so ago, becomes Dundalk’s third manager of the season but appeals as a steady pair of hands who should keep Dundalk up.

Daly’s eyes would have been opened as to the task he has ahead of him as he watched his new team go down tamely 2-0 in Galway on Friday, a result that leaves Dundalk bottom of the table.

Given they hold the worst away record in the division, Friday’s result came as no surprise to Dundalk supporters. It’s going to be the Lilywhites home form that bails them out of trouble with 10 of their 12 points this term being earned at Oriel Park.

Derry City are also bad travelers, winning just twice from 11 matches away from the Brandywell. Nobody has a better home record than the Candystripes but they dropped two crucial points at home to Sligo last week and will have to show more ruthlessness if they are to genuinely push for a title.

It won’t surprise me in the slightest if Dundalk can get something in front of their own fans here, Dundalk draw no no bet appeals to me at 11/5.

However, it’s the goalscorer markets I’m focused on in this game with Dundalk’s all-time leading goalscorer Pat Hoban set for a return to County Louth as a Derry City player. Hoban has hit the ground running on Foyleside with the Galway native the league’s top scorer on 9 goals.

Hoban left Dundalk in circumstances not fitting for a player who had given so much to the club and its supporters, having missed the first meeting of the season (4-1 to Derry) through injury, he’ll be CHOMPING at the bit to silence a few critics.

BEST BET: Pat Hoban anytime (2/1)


Two of the top scoring sides in the First Division meet at Belfield on Friday for what could turn out to be a right smash up. Despite parting ways with Head Coach Ian Ryan last week, Bray Wanderers came from behind to win in Wexford on Friday with Cristian Magerusan bagging two sublime long-range goals.

The former Longford strikers goals sees Bray’s scoring run stretch to nine consecutive matches. Meanwhile, UCD were involved in a humdinger away to Athlone with the game ending 2-2. The Students have now scored at least once in their past seven games while they enjoyed a 2-1 win away to Bray on the opening night of the season in February.

It was Bray’s inability to keep clean sheets that had mounted pressure on Ryan prior to his Seagulls departure with the Wanderers conceding 26 times in just 17 league matches. While UCD have a stronger defensive record, the Students have also conceded at an average of over one goal per game. UCD like to play an expansive game but they have coughed up some cheap goals this season as a result. We’re expecting goals in this one and plenty of them.

BEST BET: OVER 2.5 goals (9/10) NAP


According to the First Division form table, this is a meeting of the divisions two most in form teams over the last five and ten matches. The actual league table doesn’t look too different from that with the unbeaten Cork City sitting pretty at the top while Athlone Town find themselves just two points off second after an eight game unbeaten run.

Despite racing ten points clear of the chasing pack, Cork City aren’t earning too many plaudits so far this season. They are doing what they have to do in games but not much more than that at times, as displayed in their disappointing draw at home to struggling Treaty United last Friday.

Now, it should be noted that Treaty have been showing some green shoots of recovery in recent weeks with an upturn in performances failing to bring an end to their lengthy winless run but, there’s no doubt Cork City would have still been expected to dispatch the Limerick outfit with ease last week.

Athlone Town have often been labelled as the “entertainers” of the First Division and a goal difference of 0 at this stage of the season gives you an insight into why they’ve earned such a label.

The Midlanders were one of the few teams to turn Cork over during the Rebels title winning season in 2022 and given their consistency of late, now is as good a time as any for someone in the chasing pack to turn over City and hand them their first L of the season.

Athlone Town defeated Cork City in 2022 before the Rebels went on to win the division.

BEST BET: Athlone Town Double Chance (19/20)

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*Odds were correct at time of publishing the article