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5 reasons why you should be watching the League of Ireland this weekend

With five games down for decision in the Premier Division tonight, and two more in the First, there’s plenty to look forward to.

Ger O'Brien and Greg Bolger of Pat's compete against Cork's Garry Buckley.
Ger O'Brien and Greg Bolger of Pat's compete against Cork's Garry Buckley.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

1. Take two for the champions

AFTER PLAYING AGAINST 10 men for a good stretch of the second half, St Pat’s will be a bit disappointed not to have taken full points against Cork last weekend.

Surely they will right that wrong tonight when they play a UCD side who were picked apart by Bohemians last week.

Even without Killian Brennan, who is still struggling with a groin injury, the Pat’s midfield should have more than enough in hand to control this one. It could be a long night for the Students.

2. Can Bohs build?

Drogheda and Bohs finished eighth and tenth respectively last season so it was a bit of a surprise when both picked up comfortable wins on opening weekend.

“It’s a top of the table clash,” Drogs boss Robbie Horgan said. “I probably didn’t think I would be saying that after game week one but that’s what it is.”

For Bohs in particular, the hope now is that the rebuilding of last year begins to bear fruit and will be nicely supplemented by some shrewd signings — not least Jason Byrne and Paddy Kavanagh, both of whom scored in the Belfield win.

Drogheda have ambitions of their own but they are missing Gavin Brennan and Philly Hughes to suspension and goalkeeper Michael Schlingermann to a quad injury, while Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien and Gary O’Neill are both doubts.

Going to extra time against Crumlin in the EA Sports Cup on Monday was hardly ideal preparation and that might tip the balance in Bohs’ favour.

Micheal Schlingerman leaves the field injured Schlingermann: expected to be out for three weeks with a quad injury. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

3. Dundalk need to bounce back against their bogey boys

If any team can be designated the big losers of week one it was Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk who were soundly beaten by Drogheda.

They deserve credit for the manner in which they bounced back on Monday against Coleraine, getting the 2-0 away win they needed to send them through to the Setanta Cup semis.

Tonight they face a relatively toothless Limerick who followed up their 0-0 draw against Bray with a 4-0 defeat to Cork in the EA Sports Cup.

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It’s worth remembering that Stuart Taylor’s side took seven points from a maximum nine against the Lilywhites last season but unless they can find a way to goal, that won’t be happening tonight.

Rob Cornwall with Michael Duffy Derry played out an uneventful 1-1 draw with Rovers in last week's TV game. Will they be better on Sunday?

4. Let Derry entertain you (hopefully)

Richie Sadlier made a good point on Soccer Republic when asked about last weekend’s televised snoozefest between Shamrock Rovers and Derry City. Getting a result was Roddy Collins’ priority and you can’t criticise Derry for tailoring their tactics to fit that mission.

That may be true but it made for bleak TV viewing. Derry are back on the box again on Sunday and as the home side against Cork, the hope is that they will play with a little bit more attacking intent.

After last week, they owe us a bit of entertainment.

5. Crowds come out – but are they here to stay?

There was plenty of buzz around the first games of the new season and that was reflected in the attendance figures, not least in Turner’s Cross where more than 5,300 turned out for Cork’s 1-1 draw against Pat’s.

Shamrock Rovers pulled in over 3,500 on Sunday afternoon for their game against Derry, which was also on TV, while more than 2,500 were in the Showgrounds for Sligo’s night game against Athlone.

The signs are encouraging — particularly in the Cross — and it will be interesting to see if those levels continue over the next few weeks.

SSE Airtricity League fixtures (all kick-offs Friday 7.45pm unless stated)

Premier Division

  • Athlone Town v Shamrock Rovers
  • Bohemian FC v Drogheda United
  • Bray Wanderers v Sligo Rovers
  • Dundalk v Limerick
  • St Patrick’s Athletic v UCD
  • Derry City v Cork City (Sunday 3.15pm)

First Division

  • Waterford United v Galway FC
  • Wexford Youths v Cobh Ramblers (Friday 8pm)
  • Longford Town v Shelbourne (Saturday 7.30pm)
  • Shamrock Rovers v Finn Harps (Sunday 3pm)

Stuart Byrne column: ‘I fear for the Setanta Cup as the northern clubs have lost interest’

About the author:

Niall Kelly

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