EA Sports Cup Round 2 preview

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EA Sports Cup preview by Andrew Dempsey.

After a smashing weekend of Premier and First Division action, the two tiers of Irish football amalgamate together for the second time this season as the EA Sports Cup returns in earnest with some cracking ties on show in the 2nd Round of the League Cup competition. In arguably the tie of the round, high-flying Waterford FC host top of the table Cork City, while St.Patrick’s Athletic welcome holders Dundalk to Richmond Park as Liam Buckley’s side plot the downfall of an imperious looking "Lilywhites".

Limerick vs Cobh Ramblers

At 5pm on Easter Monday, Tommy Barrett’s Limerick FC side will try to put their disappointing two-nil Munster Derby defeat against Waterford behind them with a win over fellow Munster rivals, Cobh Ramblers at the Market’s Field venue on Shannonside.

Cobh will come into the game following three defeats on the spin against Finn Harps, Shelbourne and UCD as Stephen Henderson’s side lie in 8th place in an incredibly competitive First Division that is already brewing up nicely.

At the time of writing, neither side has published team news, but it is expected that the Premier Division side will ring the changes as Tommy Barrett looks to prepare his side for a crucial trip up to the capital on Friday night to face Keith Long’s Bohemians at Dalymount Park, which may open the door somewhat for Henderson’s Rams.

PREDICTION: Limerick FC 1-2 Cobh Ramblers

Waterford FC vs Cork City

As mentioned above, this game is arguably the tie of the round as Alan Reynolds’ “Blues” look to land that huge statement of intent over Munster Rivals Cork City at the RSC in the 2nd round of the EA Sports Cup.

Both sides come into this game on the back of some good form as John Caulfield’s "Rebel Army" came out on top over bottom of the pile Bray Wanderers by an emphatic four goals to nil at the Carlisle Grounds, whilst Waterford disposed of Limerick by two goals to nil at the Market’s Field last time out.

With Waterford showing that they really are the real deal so far this season, City will more than likely field their strongest possible side to negate past the stiff challenge of Alan Reynolds’ side at the RSC.

PREDICTION: Waterford FC 1-2 Cork City

Bohemians vs UCD

High-Flying UCD make the short trip across the Liffey to face Keith Long’s stuttering Bohemians side as Collie O’Neill’s "Students" will look to continue their fantastic start to their League of Ireland campaign with a win over the "Gypsies" at the home of Irish football.

To say that UCD are the form-team in the First Division would arguably be the biggest understatement of the year as Gary O’Neill and co. have set the second tier of Irish football alight with some dazzling attacking displays that have left Athlone, Shelbourne, Cobh and Cabinteely in their wake after the opening few games of the season as “Bohs” have flattered to deceive so far.

It will be interesting to see how this one plays out considering the incredibly positive momentum with Collie O’Neill’s side and should Keith Long decide to make some wholesale changes for this one, they could easily come unstuck against the First Division pacesetters.

PREDICTION: Bohemians 0-1 UCD

Shamrock Rovers vs Longford Town

Longford Town will undoubtedly be rank underdogs as Neale Fenn brings his “Red and Black Army” to Tallaght Stadium in the hope of dumping out Stephen Bradley’s highly-touted Shamrock Rovers side in Fenn’s inaugural bow in the League Cup competition.

With the bookies pricing Longford Town as high as 9/1 underdogs so early on, Shamrock Rovers should sail past the challenge of Neale Fenn’s Longford Town side relatively easy, but Fenn’s young guns will certainly be well up for the task against a Shamrock Rovers side that will more than likely make some extensive changes to their Starting XI after their one-nil win over Gerard Lyttle’s "Bit O’Red" on Friday Night.

It is hard to see anything, but a Shamrock Rovers win on this occasion, but a youthful, energetic and re-invigorated Longford Town side can cause the "Hoops" problems and do expect this one to be a lot closer than the odds suggest.

PREDICTION: Shamrock Rovers 2-1 Longford Town

St Patrick’s Athletic vs Dundalk

Last seasons EA Sports Cup Winners Dundalk make the trip to Inchicore to face the 2015 and 2016 League Cup Winners St.Patrick’s Athletic in another cracking 2nd round tie at Richmond Park.

St.Pat’s will be looking to regain their crown with a big win over a supremely talented and entertaining Dundalk side that are somehow yet to concede a goal so far this season which has left the “Lilywhites” unbeaten. Pat’s, however, will be looking to write the wrongs of their frustrating 2-1 defeat against Derry City up in the Brandywell on Friday Night and will look to this as the perfect opportunity to get back on track while also giving some of their more fringe players a much-needed run out.

Another cracking EA Sports Cup tie is in store here and it will be a fascinating contest between two sides who relish the opportunity to be playing some attractive football. Expect some dazzling attacking play supplemented by a very high scoring game in the Dublin’s south inner city on Eater Monday.

PREDICTION: St Patrick’s Athletic 1-3 Dundalk

Galway United vs Sligo Rovers

In what could be the only Connacht Derby of the season, Shane Keegan’s First Division Galway United welcome Premier Division and old foes Sligo Rovers to Éamonn Deacy Park in a hotly-anticipated grudge match between the League of Ireland’s only two representatives from the West.

In truth, the "Tribesmen" haven’t really set the First Division alight like many predicted they would have so far as they have stuttered their way through a difficult opening spell back in the second-tier of Irish football. The "Bit O’Red" haven’t had it all their own way either as last years perennial strugglers have also struggled so far, lying in a lowly 9th place after the opening series of games in the Premier Division.

This game will be a tight game to call but one would suggest that the Premier Division side should come out on top in this latest installment of the Connacht Derby as Gerard Lyttle will be acutely aware of his sides need to get the finger out and please their expectant fanbase over in the North-West corner of the province.

PREDICTION: Galway United 1-3 Sligo Rovers  

Finn Harps vs Derry City

Despite Finn Harps’ relegation last term, we do have a good old fashioned North-West Derby to look forward to as Derry City make the short enough trip from to Ballybofey to face their local rivals, who now ply their trade back in the First Division after a two-year spell fine-dining at the top table of Irish football.

Harps come into this game on the back of a shock one-all draw away to a heavily criticised  Athlone Town side, as Ollie Horgan’s side were unable to turn their dominance into goals as they dropped points in the Midlands. Derry City on the other hand come into this game following a massive 2-1 home victory against St.Patrick’s Athletic live in front of the RTÉ Cameras as Aaron McEneff turned in a performance of the highest quality to see the "Candystripes" past the "Supersaints".

With Harps clearly struggling for goals at the moment, and with Derry bang in form, the “Candystripes” should record a very comfortable win at Finn Park over their near neighbours from Donegal.  

PREDICTION: Finn Harps 0-3 Derry City

St Mochta’s vs Drogheda United (1st Round)

In a game that should have been played a good while ago now, Drogheda United make the short trip to the capital to face Leinster Senior League opposition St Mochta’s in the only remaining 1st round tie of the EA Sports Cup.

After seeming to have adapted to life rather comfortably back in the First Division, Drogheda United suffered a shock 3-2 defeat against Cabinteely as Stephen Ball and "Marty" Waters ran the “Drogs” defence absolutely ragged on what was a disappointing night for Tim Clancy’s side.

St Mochta’s are a very well known and highly respected Junior Side and they will surely give Drogheda United a stern examination of their credentials when the sides meet at the Porterstown Road venue in Castleknock as the Leinster Senior League’s only remaining side will surely be out to cause a big shock against their League of Ireland opponents.

PREDICTION: St Mochta’s 0-2 Drogheda United