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5 Things To Look Out For In Week 1 Of The SSE Airtricity League

5 Things To Look Out For In Week 1 Of The SSE Airtricity League
By John Dodge

If you missed our season preview yesterday you can read it here, but the action starts this weekend and here's 5 things that should be of interest in week 1 of the SSE Airtricity League;

1) The Champions start in Cork

Champions St Patrick's Athletic start the league season as bookmakers' favourites but they've a tough start away to Cork City in front of an expected huge crowd in Turners' Cross.  Pats have already had some competitive games and their line up looks fairly settled with Ken Oman replacing Conor Kenna from last year's top defence. It's in midfield that Pats really shine and the trio of Bolger, Brennan and the returning Keith Fahey could be frighteningly good. Cork City have been busy this week adding to their squad with former Limerick playmaker David O'Leary the latest to sign.  He'll be looking to supply another new boy Anthony Elding.  New manager John Caulfield will certainly have his team fired up for this one. The last team to win the league after losing on the opening day was St Pats in 1995/96. They lost to Cork City

2) The Louth Derby

Dundalk were certainly the biggest surprise of 2013 and they feel they could have won the league if they made a stronger start.  The last time these sides met in United Park, Dundalk felt robbed by referee Anthony Buttimer in the FAI Cup semi final. Drogheda United though are a far different outfir this time round with new manager Robbie Horgan having to build a new team around established performers like Fabio O'Brien and Gavin Brennan. Dundalk, with the excellent midfield combination of Stephen O'Donnell and Richie Towell, should have enough to get that opening win.

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3) Athlone Town's first game in the Premier Division in 18 years couldn't be harder

Athlone Town have a long and proud history in the League of Ireland. It's unbelievable that they haven't played Premier Division football since 1996! With some notable exceptions, most of their squad haven't played at this level before and they won't face a tougher game all season than away to Sligo Rovers. Rovers will feel they have every right to challenge for the title they won in 2012 and there's few who would disagree with them. They started2013 with 8 straight wins. Let's see how 2014 goes...

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4) The TV cameras are in Tallaght

 

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On Sunday Shamrock Rovers host Derry City in front of RTE TV's live cameras.  Rovers' usually high opinion of themselves has taken a battering over the past two seasons but (whisper it), they look set to rebound in 2014.The signing of Stephen McPhail should provide the perfect base for their creative players like Finn, McCabe and Waters to flourish.  Speaking of high opinions of themselves, the game will be Roddy Collins first in charge of Derry City.  He's been telling everyone Derry are set to make a run at the league title and with a striker like Rory Patterson, they'll certainly have enough firepower to trouble any team.

5) Welcome to the league Galway FC

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It's been 2 long years for followers of football in Galway. Mervue and Salthill couldn't do it for them, but tonight the new Galway FC makes it's league debut at home in Terryland Park. Galway's most famous football fan, President Michael D Higgins, will be in attendance and for the good of the league so will many others. Longford Town are clear favourites for promotion with high profile, experienced league winners like Pat Flynn and Stephen Rice adding to Tony Cousin's squad depth. Their main challengers may well be Galway who have surprised many with an impressive pre-season. Tonight should tell us more, even if it is only the opening game.

Whatever happens, enjoy the games!

 

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