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Airtricity League Kicks Off Tonight

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Cork City –v- St Patrick’s Athletic     7:45

Cork City play host to reigning Airtricity Premier League champions St Patrick’s Athletic at Turner’s Cross.

New Cork City manager John Caulfield will look to get his side off to a strong start but faces tough opposition against the league champions. Having finished sixth placed last season Cork will look to better that this year and the key is to make Turner’s Cross a fortress.

After the high that was winning the League last season, St Patrick’s Athletic will now set their sights on the difficult prospect of defending their crown starting with an away win here. Re-signing Keith Fahey is a huge bonus and the former Birmingham City man will be a key player in the Saints’ campaign.

Prediction: Away win

Drogheda United –v- Dundalk    7:45

Both Drogheda United and Dundalk will be looking for a win here as they clash in the Louth derby at Hunky Dory’s Park.

After finishing a disappointing eighth last season, Drogheda United will be looking for a huge improvement this time around. With a new manager in Robbie Horgan and new ideas, they will be hoping that things will come to fruition on the pitch. A win here over their closest rivals will be a big boost and could set the tone for the season ahead.

Having just missed out on the league title last year, Stephen Kenny and his team will be aiming to go one further this year. From relegation battling to title chasing in just two seasons, it has been an enormous turnaround for the Lilywhites. The important thing for the club is to not fall back to old ways, keep the momentum up and establish themselves as genuine title contenders.

Prediction: Draw

Limerick –v- Bray Wanderers    7:45

Hoping for a repeat of last season’s success, Limerick play host to a Bray Wanderers side hoping to avoid last season’s disappointment.

After a successful first season the Ireland’s Premier Division Limerick will be looking to avoid second season syndrome and the relegation dogfight that usually comes with it. A strong start was the key to their success last year, something which manager Stuart Taylor and his players will look to emulate.

After narrowly managing to avoid relegation last year Bray Wanderers will not be looking for a repeat this term. New manager Alan Matthews will also be looking to avoid what happened to his Shelbourne side last season. He will need his players focused and motivated if they wish to avoid playing first division football next year.

Prediction: Draw

UCD –v- Bohemian FC    7:45

Two teams who struggled last season face each other here as UCD take on Bohemians at the UCD Bowl.

After a strong finish lifted them out of the relegation battle last season UCD will be looking to pick up where they left off. Notoriously slow starts in the last two seasons had left the students struggling, and they will want to avoid that this year. A strong start is what’s needed for new manager Aaron Callaghan and his side. If they fail to do so, it could be another long season.

Like their opponents, Bohemians also had a strong finish to last season that secured their safety. Manager Owen Heary had an impact upon his appointment and will look to build on that in his first full season as a manager. Bohs have had a disappointing few years and will need a big improvement this year or they may face the prospect of relegation.

Prediction: Home win

Sligo Rovers –v- Athlone Town    7:45

Sligo Rovers play host to newly promoted Athlone Towne at the Showgrounds.

After missing out on retaining their league title last season Sligo Rovers will be looking to start this season on a high. After a strong start last season a lack of consistency in the final third of the campaign was ultimately detrimental to their title hopes. That situation is one which manager Ian Baraclough and his side will be hoping to avoid and a winning start will be a great way to show it.

After an excellent winning season in the first division last year under Roddy Collins, new manager Mick Cooke and his team will be hoping to translate that form into the premier division. The face a tough task here but a motivated and focused Athlone Town are more than capable of causing an upset.

Prediction: Home win

Shamrock Rovers –v- Derry City    5:25

The draw specialists of last season, Shamrock Rovers, take on Derry City at Tallaght Stadium.

With 13 draws last year Shamrock Rovers’ biggest problem was grounding out wins. Manager Trevor Croly and his side have pinpointed this as the reason why they did not challenge for the title last year. If this can be changed Rovers have an excellent chance of winning their third league title in five years.

Poor form in the final third of last season cost Derry City the chance to challenge for the league title. New manager Roddy Collins will hope to translate the success he had last season at Athlone Town and channel it positively into Derry City. If the Candystripes can gain some consistency particularly at the back-end of the season they could have a real chance of winning the league.

Prediction: Home win

Image courtesy of RTE.ie

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