First Division preview - Round 6

Preview by Andrew Dempsey -  @AndrewDempsey2

Preview by Andrew Dempsey - @AndrewDempsey2

The big games in the First Division continue to come thick and fast as Drogheda United face an in-form UCD side at United Park, while Galway United make the long trip up to Ballybofey and head into a huge showdown against Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps. Shelbourne look to continue their impressive early start to the season with a win over a lowly Athlone Town. Cobh Ramblers face Wexford FC, while Longford Town host a re-invigorated Cabinteely on Saturday night.  

Drogheda United vs UCD

In a game that is being described as the go-to game of the weekend in the First Division, Tim Clancy’s “Drogs” face Collie O’Neill’s “Students” as the pair, who have racked up an incredible thirty-one goals between them, throw down in a game that looks set for an absolutely cracking contest between two of the Division’s most prolific goal scoring sides.

Drogheda come into this clash of the titan’s affair on the back of a desperately disappointing three-two away to Cabinteely last time out, as a Gareth McCaffrey double couldn’t save Clancy’s side going down to defeat for the first time this season.

On the other hand, an ultra-impressive UCD side head into this vital game having suffered a heart-breaking 5-3 penalty shootout away defeat to Bohemians in the EA Sports Cup 2nd round, but do lie comfortably on top of the First Division after the opening series of games in the second tier of Irish football.

This game has all the makings of an absolute cracker at United Park, but UCD’s fantastic start to the season should see them through this tough test in County Louth as Collie O’Neill will undoubtedly be looking to enhance his sides promotion challenge as we head into another exciting weekend of First Division action.

PREDICTION: Drogheda United 1-2 UCD

Shelbourne vs Athlone Town

After putting the division on notice last weekend with a fantastic home draw against promotion hopefuls Finn Harps, Aaron Callaghan and his Athlone Town side will be hoping to show that their big result last weekend was no fluke with a positive display against Owen Heary’s Shelbourne side at Tolka Park.

Shelbourne have really excelled so far in the First Division with some big wins over Cobh Ramblers and Longford Town at home, so they will undoubtedly be looking to put a few goals past a very inexperienced Athlone Town side that have really struggled in recent weeks. A big win here for Owen Heary’s “Reds” could see them go top of the table ahead of their Dublin derby clash with Cabinteely next weekend.

After suffering some very heavy and demoralising hammerings against the likes of Longford Town and Drogheda United in recent weeks, Athlone Town finally got a point on the board as a sweet, sweet strike from Shane Stokes meant that “Town” have some kind of momentum to carry into their next game against the might of Shelbourne on Dublin’s Northside, but they will be acutely aware of the threat posed to them by the in-form Drumcondra outfit.

With many bookmakers placing Shelbourne as heavy 1/10 favourites as we speak, it is very difficult to see how Arron Callaghan’s side will keep out Owen Heary’s men and record any type of a positive result at Tolka Park on Friday night as Davy O’Sullivan and co. should run out comprehensive winners over the whipping boys of the First Division.

PREDICTION: Shelbourne 5-1 Athlone Town

Finn Harps vs Galway United

In the other game that almost certainly catches the eye, Shane Keegan takes his highly-fancied and much touted Galway United side to Finn Park as the “Tribesmen” will be looking to kickstart their First Division campaign with a much-needed win over Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps.

Having had to wait to until the 9th of March for their first game of the season, Ollie Horgan is likely to be content with his sides re-introduction to life in the First Division as his promotion chasers lie only one point outside of the Playoff places as they had into a crucial few weeks in the context of their season.

Galway have, in all truth, had a mixed start to life back in the First Division as their early exploits have been somewhat overshadowed by UCD’s blistering start to the season as the team from the West haven’t really lived up to their high expectations from the club’s fanbase.

The game is likely to be tense and cagey as both sides will refuse to give an inch to one another as the former Premier Division pairing will be hoping to climb up that congested looking First Division table, so a score draw is probably the likely result.  

PREDICTION: Finn Harps 1-1 Galway United

Wexford FC vs Cobh Ramblers

With neither side having had the best of starts to their First Division campaign, First Division duo Cobh Ramblers and Wexford FC will both be out looking to rescue their seasons with a morale-boosting win at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night.

After such a fantastic start to their keenly-anticipated campaign with a 1-0 nil win over Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely at Stradbrook, Damian Locke’s side have fallen by the wayside somewhat with some disappointing defeats against Drogheda United and Longford Town, so they will be looking to this game as a possible springboard to catapult themselves out of the mire at the bottom of the table.

Cobh, on the other hand, have also struggled somewhat since their opening day draw at Longford Town as Stephen Henderson’s side lie in a lowly 8th place at the wrong end of the First Division table. Saying that, the “Rams” haven’t had the easiest start to the season and should they record a big victory here, everything will start to look a whole lot better for the County Cork side.   

PREDICTION: Wexford FC 0-2 Cobh Ramblers

Longford Town vs Cabinteely

In what is the final First Division game of the weekend, Neale Fenn’s Longford Town welcome Pat Devlin’s Cabinteely side to the City Calling Stadium as an intriguing clash of footballing styles looks set to dominate proceedings in the Midlands.

After demolishing near neighbours Athlone Town by five goals to one in the Midlands “El Clasico” despite not being all that impressive during the game, “Town” headed for Galway in high-spirits and were probably unfortunate not have left Éamonn Deacy Park with all three points as Aodh Dervin really stood out in the face of some serious opposition quality.

Cabinteely, on the other hand, finally got their First Division campaign up and running last time out with a morale-boosting 3-2 victory over a highly-fancied Drogheda United side as Kieran Marty Waters proved to be an absolute nightmare for the “Drogs” defence.

Looking back on previous games between the pair, these clashes are usually tight with only the odd one or two goals separating the Midlander’s from their Capital counterparts, so this game will probably go along the same lines with Longford Town just edging out this contest.   

PREDICTION: Longford Town 3-1 Cabinteely  

For in depth previews and discussion on all of the above games why not check out Between the Stripes LOI podcast.