First Division preview - Round 8

Preview by Andrew Dempsey -  @AndrewDempsey2 .

Preview by Andrew Dempsey - @AndrewDempsey2.

As another mouth-watering weekend of First Division takes centre stage, Owen Heary’s confident Shelbourne side host Shane Keegan’s stuttering Galway United at Tolka Park, while Cobh Ramblers welcome Drogheda United to St.Colman’s Park on Saturday Night. Finn Harps and Cabinteely also throw down in the weekends other fixtures,while Wexford FC will be looking to shake off their recent slump with a win over Aaron Callaghan’s Athlone Town at Ferrycarrig Park. Last, but certainly not least, Longford Town host top of the table UCD in a clash that will entertain the neutrals at the City Calling Stadium.

Shelbourne vs Galway United

After a rather stop-start season so far for Shane Keegan and his Galway United side, the “Tribesmen” make the trip up to the capital for the first time since their draw against UCD with an almighty clash against Owen Heary’s Shelbourne at Tolka Park.

To their credit, Shelbourne have had an absolutely fantastic start to their promotion seeking First Division campaign as they lie well in contention at the top end of the table after a strong beginning to their season.

Galway on the other hand have struggled to get some winning momentum in recent times as they have only managed one win in their previous three league games, while also failing to have picked up an away win in their opening two away excursions.

Expect to see an absolutely fascinating game of football at the Drumcondra venue as both sides will look to continue their climbs up the table, but you would have to fancy the “Reds” at home against Keegan’s side, who have failed to pick up an away win as of yet.  

PREDICTION: Shelbourne 2-1 Galway United

Finn Harps vs Cabinteely

After stunning both Shelbourne and Drogheda United in recent weeks, Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely will be looking to build on some really positive momentum with a big result up in Ballybofey against Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps.

Harps have struggled to get going as of yet on their return to the First Division with the 2015 promotion winners currently as low as seventh in the table. Goal scoring has surprisingly been a major issue for the promotion hopefuls, who have some quality attackers on their books in the likes of the O'Connor brothers and League of Ireland veteran, John O'Flynn. 

Cabinteely have bounced back in recent weeks with some morale boosting wins over a high-flying Shelbourne and Drogheda United at Stradbrook. However, this will be a real test for Pat Devlin’s side as "Cabo" look to get back in touch with those at the top of the pile after a poor start to the season.

This game will be tight throughout and given both teams issues in front of goal it may not be one for the over 2.5 goal punters. 

PREDICTION: Finn Harps 1-1 Cabinteely

Wexford FC vs Athlone Town

In a battle of the division’s two basement sides, Aaron Callaghan takes his confidence-shot Athlone Town side to Ferrycarrig Park in search of their opening win of the season against Damian Locke’s Wexford FC.

After announcing just this week that the club is now fully supporter owned, Wexford will be out to write the wrongs of last week’s second half capitulation at Éamonn Deacy with a win over a very leaky Athlone Town side in the Sunny South East. Locke's troops have failed to win a game since the opening night of the season. 

Athlone have had what must be described as a disastrous start to life as a fully amateur club in the First Division, having been on the end of some very heavy hammerings since the arrival of Aaron Callaghan and his new-look side, so this will be a real test to see how much his side have learnt from their difficult start to the season.

PREDICTION: Wexford FC 3-1 Athlone Town

Longford Town vs UCD

In what is being described as the biggest game of the First Division by many onlookers this weekend, Collie O’Neill’s high-flying UCD make the one-and-a-half-hour trip up to the City Calling Stadium as the “Students” square up against Neale Fenn’s Longford Town.

“Town” will certainly be looking to exact revenge of some sort as the “Students” dominated proceedings in last years campaign having gone unbeaten against a far less cohesive Longford Town side in 2017.

After going behind for one of the very few times this season, UCD bounced back to regain the lead against Finn Harps as Georgie Kelly continued his red-hot form with a hat-trick against the Donegal club in a 3-2 win..

It will be interesting to see how Longford Town will react to the disappointment of last week’s draw at Drogheda United with another few on the treatment table at present. With their impressive home run of form at the moment, you would have to give the nod to Neale Fenn’s side especially if Mick McDonnell and Darren Meenan were to return to the starting eleven.

PREDICTION: Longford Town 2-1 UCD

Cobh Ramblers vs Drogheda United

In the final game of the First Division this weekend, Stephen Henderson’s Cobh Ramblers host Tim Clancy’s Drogheda United at St.Colman’s Park on Saturday evening.  

The “Rams” have had a slow enough start to their First Division campaign this term but they will be looking to build on last weekend’s big win over a limited Athlone Town side at Lissywoolen by a score-line of four goals to one, as Jaze Kabia impressed for “Hendo’s” side.

Drogheda come into this game on the back of a last-gasp draw against Longford Town at United Park as Ciaran Kelly smashed home past a despairing Mick Kelly in the Longford Town goal. Should the “Drogs” win against Henderson’s “Rams” they could potentially go top of the pile once again so that should be the expectation for Clancy’s men.

With Cobh starting to show signs of recovery in recent weeks, after some unlucky defeats against both Finn Harps and Shelbourne, do not be surprised to see Henderson's side grab at least a point from this re-run of the 2016 First Division Play-Off at St.Colman’s Park.

PREDICTION: Cobh Ramblers 1-1 Drogheda United

For comprehensive previews and discussion on all of the above matches, plus last weekends results in the First Division, be sure to check out Series 2 - Episode 9 of Between the Stripes LOI podcast. Drogheda United assistant, Kevin Doherty was just one of six high profile guests on the show, which can be subscribed to on Itunes.