Thursday, March 22, 2007

New! IrishBar's Eircom League Preview

You spoiled blighters! At no extra cost, IrishBar from My Irish Football Blog will kindly be previewing for us the action in the brand spanking new Eircom League of Ireland....check out MIFB if you want more on the Eircom League, or if you're just fed up of reading TSA's slurred untruths.

Eircom League of Ireland Premier Division
Galway United v Drogheda United, Fri 7.45
Galway will be hoping to build on last week's point gained away to Cork City. This will be their second home game of the season and they will be looking to pick up their first home points. Manager Tony Cousins has already used more players than any other team in the division as he tries to figure out his strongest eleven.

Drogheda, with four points from a possible six, are visiting Terryland on the back of a deserved 1-0 win in the Setanta Cup away to Glentoran. They found their scoring touch last week against UCD, scoring three goals in a five-goal thriller at United Park.

Drogheda are real title contenders this season and if they wish to have a serious go at it they will need to be able to go and win away at places like Galway. Drogs are a very difficult team to break down and with Galway yet to find the net this season one would have to favour the Louth team to come away with three points.

Derry City v St. Patrick's Athletic, Fri 7.55 - Live on Rte 2
This is an early season table-topping clash and Derry will be looking to recover from their midweek defeat in the Setanta Cup at the hands of Linfield. They went down 2-1 and conceded their first goals of the season. Pat Fenlon's team are worthy favourites to finish top this season after the disappointment of finishing runners up in the last two campaigns. Defender Dave Rodgers is suspended after his red card against Sligo last week.

St Pats have started the season on fire, with a 100% record in the league and some impressive Setanta Cup results also. They have scored some cracking goals and kept things reasonably tight at the back.

Prior to the start of the season many were tipping Pats as dark horses for the league. They have been going well so far, however, with no disrespect to the teams they have beaten in the league, they were both games that Pats would be expected to win. They have yet to come up against a top class side.

Derry, with their strong home form at the Brandywell should have enough to scrap a narrow win.

UCD v Cork City, Fri 7.45
The students have lost two of their big players from last season to Championship side Birmingham City, however they gave a good account of themselves in their two games so far. Their season opener was a well earned no score draw with Shamrock Rovers and last week they twice breached Drogheda's usually watertight defence, only to come away on the losing side of a 3-2 scoreline.

Cork City have suffered from a lack of a proper preseason and until they beat Portadown during the week had been struggling. They will still be without new signings and former internationals Colin Healy and Gareth Farrelly and are really missing the departed Neale Fenn and George O'Callaghan. With just one point so far they will be eager to get their season up and running.

UCD have been strong at home over the last few seasons - especially against the top sides - they are very well organised, young, fit and hungry. Generally they dont score or concede many. I see this as a tight game with a draw the most likely of outcomes.

Waterford Utd v Bray Wanderers, Fri 7.45
These two sides propped up the table last season. Waterford were planning for life in Division One until Shelbourne were demoted so their opening day victory over Cork was all the more impressive. They followed that up with a 3-0 defeat in Dublin to St Pat's last weekend.

In their opening game Bray put in a spirited performance at the Brandywell but lost narrowly to Derry. Last weekend they surprised a few people and beat Bohemians 1-0 at the Carlisle grounds - so with three points already on the board they will be quite happy with their start to the season.

Hard to pick a winner here but Bray have had the best of the encounters between these two teams in recent years and although the bookies make Waterford favourites I fancy Bray to come away with something.

Longford Town v Sligo Rovers, Fri 8.00
It's been a bit of a disaster so far this season for Longford. They have lost a lot of experienced players and have no points from their first two games. Rumours of alleged money owed to creditors is also a potential problem.

Sligo have their own problems with manager Rob MacDonald leaving just before the season was set to start - apparently the Sligo board were not willing to give him a contract of employment that had previously been agreed. But with three points from a possible six they will be happy enough with their start to the season.

Longford have injuries to a few crucial players - Gary Deegan and Davy Byrne - and will also be without two more regulars (John Martin and Damien Brennan) who received red cards in last weekend's game against Shamrock Rovers.

Sligo will be confident of getting something out of this game and its a good time for them to be playing Longford. They may even sneak a win!

Eircom League of Ireland First Division
Limerick 37 v Kildare County, Fri 7.45
Limerick 37 will be hoping to build on their four points won so far at home to Kildare County and will be confident of a win. Kildare have drawn their first two games and don't look to have improved since last season.

Monaghan United v Kilkenny City, Fri 8.00
These two teams occupied the two bottom places in the division last season. Monaghan managed to steal an undeserved point last week in Kildare and also drew their first game of the season with Wexford - despite being 2-0 up at half time. Kilkenny are pointless at the moment and have not won a game in 26 attempts.

Shelbourne v Dundalk, Fri 8.00
Shels have just one point so far while Dundalk have a 100% record with two wins out of two. I can't see Shels challenging this season but they will be hopeful of a top half finish. Dundalk will be going all out for automatic promotion and should collect another three points.

Athlone Town v Wexford Youths, Sun 3.00
Athlone are quietly confident that they will challenge for promotion this season and with one win and one draw so far they have started well. Wexford also have a win and a draw to their name but the bookmakers have them as long-shots to get anything out of this game.

Cobh v Finn Harps, Sun 3.00
Cobh finished a very respectable fourth last season but have lost both games so far this time out. This game will be in Turners Cross as St. Colemans is not quite ready yet. Finn Harps, who have lost to Dundalk and beaten Shelbourne, will be hoping to get something from this game to make the long trip home more bearable.



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