Week one of the SSE Airtricity League is in the books and we're ready to make wildly speculative snap judgements.
1) Cork City have set the blueprint to playing St Pats
Kick them. Kick them often and kick them hard. Cork City's excellent marketing campaign worked a treat and well over 5,000 turned up to see John Caulfield's first game as manager against the Champions. A lot has been made about the St Pats midfield but missing the injured Killian Brennan they couldn't cope with Cork's physicality early on and struggled to create anything. Cork ended up with 6 yellow cards (two of them to captain John Dunleavy saw him sent off) and showed the rest of the league that Pats may be vulnerable there. Pats will be happy with a point under the circumstances.
2) Drogheda United may not be bad...
We didn't give Drogheda too much hope of beating a Dundalk side with one of the league's best midfield units and we weren't alone in that. Drogheda's 4-1 win over their Louth rivals will do wonders for morale in Drogheda and surely ensure the new-season bump in crowds is maintained for a while. Dundalk have played 3 competitive games this season and lost them all. Stephen Kenny won't be panicking yet but he'd sure like to have more options in defence. Chris Shields is a fine midfielder but he shouldn't really be starting at centre half for a team looking to challenge for honours. They travel to Coleraine tonight hoping to overturn a 3-2 deficit in the Setanta Cup and the game is live on Setanta Ireland.
3) New season but same problems for Shamrock Rovers
Plenty of optimism in Tallaght yesterday but it didn't last too long as Rovers struggled at home against a well drilled Derry City side. Rovers played 4-5-1 all last season but started this year playing 4-4-2 with many pundits shocked to see Robert Bayly start ahead of Stephen McPhail and (returning from injury) Ronan Finn. Rovers created nothing with the industrious pair of Bayly and Ryan Brennan and went long far too often. Derry's centre halves lapped that up and the team grew in confidence as the game wore on. Their goal may have been a fluke but they were the better team for most of the game. Rovers did press hard for the last 10 minutes and their equaliser in injury time ensured they didn't start the season with a home defeat.
4) UCD are in for a long season
Bohemians easily beat UCD in a performance that will give their supporters great encouragement for the rest of the season. Bohs biggest problem last year was scoring goals (they only managed 27 in 33 games) and to have goals already for three attacking players (Kavanagh, Corcoran & Byrne) has to be a good sign. UCD have been widely tipped to struggle and Friday's result won't make anyone reconsider. They conceded a league high 74 last season and new manager Aaron Callaghan has a job on his hands to make them better defensively.
5) Sligo Rovers know how to win
Over the past 4 seasons, no team has won more games than Sligo Rovers (75, with the next best being St Pats/Shamrock Rovers on 69). On Saturday evening they were a goal down to Athlone Town with 30 minutes left and limited attacking options on the bench. After John Russell's equaliser, defender Evan McMillan was brought on as an emergency striker and popped up with a late winner. With players to return from injury and suspension, the win was all that mattered to Sligo.
There's a full round of EA Sports Cup action tonight/tomorrow and 3 gmes in the Setanta Sports Cup. Will all 4 LOI teams qualify for the semi finals?