First Division preview - Round 2

Article by Andrew Dempsey -  @AndrewDempsey2

Article by Andrew Dempsey - @AndrewDempsey2

First Division Preview

We’re only one game into the First Division, but going by the fixtures on offer in this round of games, it looks set to be an absolute belter of a weekend for First Division action as UCD host Galway United, Finn Harps open their campaign against Shelbourne, Cabinteely look to write the wrongs of their opening day defeat against Wexford FC with a home tie against Cobh Ramblers, Longford face Wexford and Drogheda United face Aaron Callaghan’s Athlone Town.

UCD vs Galway United – Friday 7.45pm

In what is arguably the game of the round, UCD will look to build on their ultra-impressive opening day win over Shelbourne with a win over Shane Keegan’s recently relegated Galway United side at the UCD Bowl.

Collie O’Neill’s side will also be on the lookout for revenge having suffered the ignominy of relegation in the last clash between the pair, having come out second best in the relegation/promotion playoff of 2014.

Shane Keegan’s men come into this having swatted aside an unknown quantity in Athlone Town last time out at Eamonn Deacy Park but will face a much sterner test against the "Students" at the UCD Bowl. Keegan and co. will have to make do without Conor Melody, who is unavailable through injury.

PREDICTION: UCD 2-1 Galway United  

Finn Harps vs Shelbourne – Friday 8pm

Ollie Horgan and his Finn Harps team will look to get their SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign up and running at the third time of asking against Owen Heary’s Shelbourne side.

Harps come into this still awaiting their return to First Division football after a two-year spell fine dining with the elites of Irish football in the dizzy heights of the Premier Division. Paddy McCourt, is a doubt for the game as is Ciaran Coll and Gareth Harkin. Eric Whelan misses out after aggravating an old injury.

Shels make the long trip up to the North-East after falling to a 2-1 away defeat against Collie O’Neill’s UCD side last time out and will be without Alan Byrne, Mark Hughes and Derek Prendergast through suspension, injury and work commitments respectively.   

PREDICTION: Finn Harps 1-1 Shelbourne

Cabinteely vs Cobh Ramblers – Friday 7.45pm

After a disappointing start to the season at home to Wexford FC at Stradbrook, Cabinteely will be on the lookout for a quick response against a well-drilled and well-organised Cobh Ramblers side.

Pat Devlin’s men failed to live up to the lofty pre-season expectations placed on them at the start of the season in their opening day disappointment against Damien Locke’s Wexford FC, but "Cabo" will be well aware that the season is never defined by the first game.

On the other hand, Stephen Henderson will lead his side up to the capital after coming back in sensational fashion against Longford Town at the City Calling Stadium in their opening day assignment. It will be interesting to see how "Hendo’s" young guns acquit themselves against Pat Devlin’s men, especially with the Cork clubs “never say die” attitude so prevalent.

PREDICTION: Cabinteely 0-1 Cobh Ramblers

Longford Town vs Wexford FC – Saturday 7.30pm

Wexford FC are the visitors to the City Calling Stadium as Longford Town welcome Damien Locke’s men to the Midlands venue.

Having squandered an opening day two goals to nil lead against fellow promotion rivals Cobh ramblers, Neale Fenn will be looking to take the positives out of last week’s display and put them into practice against a committed Wexford FC side. "De Town" will be without Alan Kehoe, who misses out with an ankle strain while Andy O’Reilly has since departed the club to join up with fellow First Division side, Cabinteely.

Wexford FC come into this game buoyed by their recent showing against Cabinteely and will look to keep up their billing as the leagues dark horses with a win over a highly-fancied Longford Town side at the City Calling Stadium. No team news has been released by the South-East club as of yet.

PREDICTION: Longford Town 2-0 Wexford FC

Drogheda United vs Athlone Town – Sunday 3pm

Similarly to Finn Harps, Drogheda United will look to kick-start their SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign at the third time of asking with a home clash against Aaron Callaghan’s Athlone Town side.

Having disgraced the league somewhat with their floodlight issues on their opening night against Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps, Tim Clancy is still yet to make his bow in the dugout at United Park as a manager in the League of Ireland and barring any catastrophe, he should make his inaugural sideline apperance on Sunday come 3pm. Still a few days out from the game, no team news has been announced by the Boynesiders as of yet.

Athlone Town will look to bounce back from their opening day defeat away to Galway United, with an away trip to face Tim Clancy’s Drogheda United side. After some shambolic defending which allowed Danny Furlong to score a hat-trick, Athlone did show some rays of hope for the season with an absolute bullet of a strike from Felix Bape Perez in the dying embers of the game on the banks of the Corrib in Galway.

PREDICTION: Drogheda United 3-0 Athlone Town   

For the very best First Division discussion, analysis and fixture previews, check out Between the Stripes LOI podcast. Series 2, Episode 3 featured an exclusive interview with 2009 First Division winner and former UCD assistant, Evan McMillan. (Also available on Itunes).