First Division preview - Round 4
In what can only be described as another barnstorming weekend of top quality First Division action, Drogheda United will be looking to continue their scintillating start to life in the First Division with a clash against title-chasing Galway United, Shelbourne host Cobh Ramblers, Finn Harps welcome a wounded Wexford FC to Finn Park, while there is only the small matter of two local derbies making up the rest of the action as UCD host Cabinteely in the N11 Derby, while Longford Town will look to shake off their defeat against Shelbourne with a Midlands “El Clasico” win over Athlone Town.
Drogheda United vs Galway United
Drogheda United have certainly acquitted themselves to life in the First Division very well after trouncing Athlone Town 6-0, while also racking up a further eight goals in a 8-1 demolition job away to Damien Locke’s Wexford FC side. On the other hand, Galway United have had a solid start following relegation of their own and will look to build on their early momentum with Danny Furlong bang in form.
These sides played on three occasions last year and it was Shane Keegan’s United that won the last clash between the pair as they ran out comprehensive 4-1 winners against the “Drogs”. Apart from that, the games were generally tight affairs with both sides registering four points off of each other.
This will undoubtedly be the game of the weekend for the neutral First Division fan and do expect this game to be a close contest with plenty of goals as both Tim Clancy and Shane Keegan will be looking to land that early psychological blow in an intriguing promotion race that will excite.
PREDICTION: Drogheda United 2-2 Galway United
Shelbourne vs Cobh Ramblers
Having kick-started their faltering campaign with a much-needed and dramatic 3-2 victory over Longford Town last Friday night, Shelbourne will be looking to build on their huge morale-boosting win over Neale Fenn’s 'Red and Black' with a second win in as many weeks over Stephen Henderson’s Cobh Ramblers side.
Henderson’s "Rams" will be looking for their own version of “bounce-back-ability”, after last weekend’s 2-0 home defeat against Finn Harps, with a win over Owen Heary’s "Reds" at Tolka Park for the third game on the spin after recording two victories in Drumcondra last season.
Heary’s side will be a threat as seen with their pulsating win over Longford Town last time out, but a Stephen Henderson side is never easy to beat, so do not be surprised to see this game of the First Division’s elite end up in a score-draw.
PREDICTION: Shelbourne 1-1 Cobh Ramblers
UCD vs Cabinteely
It has got to be said that Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely side have gotten off to a sluggish start and the season does not get any easier from here on in as they face a daunting 46A trip from Stradbrook to Belfield to face face an in-form UCD side, who have started the 2018 SSE Airtricity League First Division season like a house on fire.
Famed for their entertaining brand of possession football, “College” started their season off with a richly-deserved 2-1 victory over Dublin rivals Shelbourne at the UCD Bowl before being held against title-favourites Galway United in their next outing. Since then, Collie O’Neill’s side reacted well to that minor setback and they then eventually saw off a spirited Athlone Town challenge 3-1 last weekend.
Cabinteely started the season off with a desperately disappointing home defeat to Wexford FC, before succumbing to a heavy 4-1 defeat away to Galway United. Cabinteely did pick up their first points of the season against a goalkeeper-less Athlone Town on Monday afternoon, but they will understand they must up their performance-levels if they are to stand a chance against a rampaging UCD side.
PREDICTION: UCD 3-0 Cabinteely
Finn Harps vs Wexford FC
With a solid 4 points won out of a possible 6, Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps side will most certainly be looking to build on their steady start to life back in the First Division with a home victory against Damien Locke’s confidence-shot Wexford FC side.
After stunning the First Division on the opening day of the season, Wexford have struggled since, suffering a three-nil defeat away to Longford Town and were also on the end of a humiliating 8-1 home defeat against Tim Clancy’s Drogheda United side at Ferrycarrig Park.
It is very difficult to see anything but a comfortable home victory for Finn Harps on this occasion, even in the face of a far from ideal scenario which saw striking duo Ciaran and Michael O’Connor being arrested early on this week.
PREDICTION: Finn Harps 3-0 Wexford FC
Longford Town vs Athlone Town
For the second game running, Athlone Town are likely to have to deal with the prospect of having no registered goalkeeper in their matchday squad, as they head into a Midlands “El Clasico” against eternal rivals Longford Town at the City Calling Stadium.
After a far from ideal start, Aaron Callaghan seems to have steadied the ship somewhat at the Athlone Town Stadium but will be likely to have no goalkeeper for the second week running which is a major cause for concern. Longford Town head into this derby off the back of suffering a disappointing 3-2 away defeat to a David O’Sullivan inspired Shelbourne side as both Sam Verdon and Dylan McGlade saw red in Tolka Park last Friday.
Longford Town should be considered as overwhelming favorites for this latest installment of the Midlands “El Clasico” with Neale Fenn looking for his side to react in the best way possible to last week’s bitterly fought contest at Tolka Park.
PREDICTION: Longford Town 4-0 Athlone Town
For in depth previews of all the above fixtures, plus discussion and debate from last weekends First Division results, check out Series 2, Episode 5 of Between the Stripes LOI podcast featuring Longford Town manager, Neale Fenn.