WEEK 1 PREDICTIONS

  THE SSE AIRTRICITY LEAGUE 

Posted: 11/02/2020 11:57:09


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CORK CITY


The loss of both Conor McCarthy and Dan Casey is a big blow for the Leesiders with their defence weakened somewhat by their departure.

As for the new arrivals, goalkeeper Liam Bossin who joined from Nottingham Forest is a notable capture and will be battling with Mark McNulty to make the no.1 jersey his own.

It was without doubt a season to forget for the Leesiders in 2019 and their fans will be hoping the likes of Eoghan Stokes and Liam Nash will help propel them back into Europe by season’s end.

Newly promoted Shelbourne make the trip to Turners Cross for the Leesiders opening match.

Have the Rebels turned the corner and will they easily dispose of the Dublin 3 men or will the three points be travelling up the M7?

We’ll know the answer by 21.40 on February 14th.

MATCH PREDICTION: 1-1 DRAW

VERDICT:  This could be another troubling year for the Leesiders, who may struggle to regain the form they showed prior to last season, where they laboured to a Mid-Table finish. A fourth or fifth place finish is our hunch.
 
 

DERRY CITY FC


Derry is a City with a proud history and the people are as fierce in their pride as their team is on the pitch.

So from watching the view from Derry’s Walls, or the creation of defensive walls outside the opposition’s box; the city itself as well as the iconic Brandywell Stadium are well worth a visit.

While losing Conor Davis to Cork City was a blow; the return of Conor McCormack who headed in the opposite direction to Davis and the capture of former underage Irish International Conor Clifford from Saint Patrick’s Athletic will boost their chances of finishing higher than 4th this time.

The performances of the likes of Ally Gilchrist and Ciaron Harkin will be crucial if they are to be in the hunt for a European spot come October.

The Candystripes face a tough start away to champions Dundalk, but given how the home side can often be slow to get properly going at the start, Declan Devine’s side could yet cause an upset.

However we still think the Lilywhites will have the edge on the night.

MATCH PREDICTION: 2-1 WIN FOR DUNDALK

VERDICT: Declan Devine has woven a very tight-knit unit together who are a formidable opponent and should be among the challengers for a European spot this season.
 


DUNDALK


The departure of Robbie Benson from Dundalk to Saint Patrick’s Athletic sent shockwaves that reverberated far outside the County Louth town.

With Jamie McGrath going to Saint Mirren in Scotland. The loss of these two key strikers could have a sizable bearing as to whether the Liliywhites retain their league trophy or not.

The singings of Darragh Leahy from Bohemians and former England Youth international Will Patching from Notts County will strengthen the Midfield and Defence.

So whilst there may well be more balls reaching the opposition’s box, does Lido Lotefa have the attacking nous take over where Benson and McGrath left off? 

The Lilywhites welcome Derry City on the opening day of the season and their supporters will be expecting them to comfortably grab all three points on the night.

However given the loss of such keep talent, a win for the Candystripes would not be that much of a shock.

MATCH PREDICTION: 2-1 WIN FOR DUNDALK

VERDICT: 
While the squad has been depleted somewhat in the close season, the sum of this Dundalk side still has many top notch parts and we expect them to be once more in the hunt for silverware come season’s end.


FINN HARPS F.C.


While the team from Donegal needed playoff victory over Drogheda United to ensure their Premiership survival, they did take some notable scalps last season, including the 1-0 win at home to Bohemians in August.

Though they may lack individual star quality in the side, manager Ollie Horgan has moulded his side into one that generally gives their all on the pitch and can prove quite a tough nut to crack.

The team will be strengthened by the arrival of David Webster from Saint Patrick’s Athletic and Ryan Connolly from Shamrock Rovers.

Having avoided the drop last term, the men from Ballybofey will have the confidence to think they can finish higher this season.

The Donegal men entertain near neighbours Sligo rovers on the opening day of the campaign.
The North-West Derby is always a keenly contested fixture with both sides giving it socks.

So if you live in that part of the country, this is an event not to be missed!

MATCH PREDICTION:  1-0 WIN FOR FINN HARPS

VERDICT:
While Ollie Horgan has the team playing to the best of their ability, they just don’t have the star quality needed to challenge for Europe and I predict (as much as I like the club and it’s supporters) that they will struggle again, especially given the signings Shelbourne have made.


SAINT PATRICK’S ATHLETIC


The Inchicore side’s fans were convinced their club had struck pure gold when it was announced that the prolific Robbie Benson had signed from league champions Dundalk.

They then followed that up by signing former Scotland Under-21 striker Billy King from Greenock Morton.

If you watched Saint Patrick’s Athletic last season in Richmond Park or on the TV, It was obvious that the team badly lacked in the attacking department, as wave after wave of excellently crafted balls into the box either saw good chances being squandered or the opposing defenders easily retaining possession.

On paper at least, those sort of chances should be converted, or at least force a good save from the opposition goalkeeper a lot more frequently this season.

Of the existing crop, the performances of Simon Madden and Chris Forrester will have a crucial impact on whether they are in the hunt for the title this year.

Waterford United are the visitors to Richmond Park as Stephen O’Donnell’s men open their account on home turf.

Given the problems Waterford have faced in the last few months and the talent St. Pat’s have added to the squad in close season, it looks a nailed on win for the Saints.

MATCH PREDICTION: COMFORTABLE 3-0 WIN FOR ST. PAT'S

VERDICT: The Saints, now have the quality in areas that were lacking last season and are a dark horse for the league title.

 

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SHAMROCK ROVERS


While they did indeed finish in an excellent second place last season., over the last few years the team has had a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde feel about it, excelling one week, struggling to etch out a result the next.

Failing to beat Bohemians and in fact losing three out the four Dublin Derbies last season is testament to this fact.

The signing of the much coveted Liam Scales from UCD will boost a side already bursting at the seams with top-drawer talent.

Jack Byrne, Ronan Finn and Graham Burke were key to their sides second place finish and FAI Cup victory last term.

With Dundalk losing some of their key players from last season, the battle for top spot could well go down to the wire come October.

There is a lot more than just three points at stake for the Hoops as they travel to Dalymount Park on February 15th.

Having failed to beat Bohemians in the league last season, and only picking up one point of a possible 12 against their deadly rivals, their fans will be praying they finally end their hoodoo and regain the bragging rights.
The result really is too close to call.

MATCH PREDICTION:  2-1 WIN FOR BOHS

VERDICT:
If manager Stephen Bradley can get his tactics right on more nights than he did last season, the Hoops will be genuine title contenders come October. 



SHELBOURNE


The newly promoted side have seriously signalled their intent with some of their close-season singings as they mark their first season in the top flight since they were relegated from the Premier Division in 2013.

Karl Sheppard from Cork City, Gary Deegan from Cambridge United along with George Poynton’s arrival from Waterford should ensure they can give a good account of themselves whatever the opposition.

A trip to Turners Cross awaits the Reds, and they will be hoping Cork’s indifferent form continues as they seek to being life back in the Premier Division on a high note.

MATCH PREDICTION: 1-1 DRAW

VERDICT:  If they continue to play with the same panache as they did last season and with the new signings to boot, our money is on Shelbourne finishing mid-table this season.



 

SLIGO ROVERS


The Bit o’ Red finished in mid table last season and with an astute a manager as Liam Buckley in the hot-seat, will be hoping to challenge for Europe this season.

Romeo Parkes return to the US is a blow, but Finnish Left-Back Teemu Penninkangas –whom they signed from FC Lahti in his homeland - looks like a shrewd capture.

On the opening day of the campaign. The Sligo team’s bus will be making the 90 minute-trip to Ballybofey for the North-West Derby against Finn Harps.

These games are always keenly contested, and those who turn up on the night can expect lots of thrills and spills as both sides seek the grab the bragging rights on the night.

PREDICTION: 1-0 WIN FOR FINN HARPS

VERDICT:
Mid-Table mediocrity once more awaits the Bit o’ Red, but if they are not careful they could find themselves in a relegation scrap.


 

WATERFORD UNITED


It certainly was a season where the action off the field was, some might say more enthralling than that on it for the South-East side.

Thankfully club owner Lee Power has seemingly managed to iron out the problems that had had occurred over last season and fans of the Deise side will be hoping they can cause a surprise next year and once more earn a European spot come October.

While the loss of J.J. Lunney, who has returned to Bohemians, the arrival of Sam Allardice who came in the opposite direction, with his battling qualities is a good capture for the Regional Sports Ground based club.
The capture of striker Graham Cummins was a notable one and has boosted the sides attacking options.

The men in blue face a tricky start when they travel to Dublin to Face Saint Patrick’s Athletic.

The Inchicore side has strengthened their side considerably in the off-season and we feel will be too hot for Waterford to handle.

MATCH PREDICTION: COMFORTABLE 3-0 WIN FOR ST. PAT'S

VERDICT:
Like in previous seasons, the expectation is that the team from the Deise to once again be formidable at home, but a totally different kettle of fish on the road. Thus we expect another season of mid-table mediocrity for the Lee Power’s side.


BOHEMIANS


Last but more definitely not least we move onto the surprise packet of the 2019 season, Bohemians. The club is on a high after clinching a European spot and moving another step closer to building a brand new state of the art stadium, to be built on the site of the current Dalymount Park.

They caused quite a surprise when they managed an unexpected (by most pundits and fans of other clubs) third place finish last season, remaining unbeaten in the league against Shamrock Rovers in the process.
DAN CASEY’s RETURN FROM CORK CITY and JJ Lunney’s return after a year with Waterford United has the Gypsies supporters believing they can at least reclaim third spot this season.

The signing of Canadian International winger Kris Twardeck has boosted the options on the wing.

With the return of high scoring striker Dinny Corcoran (who was a contestant on Channel 4’s Countdown) from injury, some of the Dalymount faithful are dreaming of uttering a nine letter word come November – Champions.
As baptism’s of fire go, the opening match does not get hotter than this, as arch rivals Shamrock rovers make the trek across the Liffey in the Dublin Derby.

Last year the league matches between both sides were enthralling close-knot affairs, and we expect it to be no different on Saturday February 15th.

MATCH PREDICTION:  2-1 WIN FOR BOHS

VERDICT:
With the talent at the disposal of Saint Patrick’s Athletic, Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers, it is going to be very tough at the top for the Gypsises. Keith long’s men will have to be at their very best all season long if they are to repeat last years.
 

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