Airtricity League draws closer

Updated: February 24, 2012

With the Airtricity League Launch on Friday 24th February, we take a look at the upcoming season.

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Within the last week RTE announced that they’d be showing a record breaking 24 live games this season, so far confirmed RTE games are;

Drogheda United vs Shamrock Rovers, March 2nd.

Cork City vs Shamrock Rovers, March 16th.

Bohemians vs St.Patrick’s Athletic, March 25th.

Shamrock Rovers vs Bohemians, March 40th.

St.Patrick’s Athletic vs Shamrock Rovers, April 6th.

As you can see Shamrock Rovers dominates the television ratings for RTE. While looking at Shamrock Rovers, the Champions cannot complain with their fine pre-season form winning all four games played and finishing up tomorrow night when they face Waterford United at Tallaght Stadium. Manager Stephen Kenny brought in former Sligo man Aaron Greene and he proved an instant hit with the Rovers fans when he scored a debatable hat-trick in Shamrock Rovers most recent pre-season game against Longford on Tuesday night.

Shamrock Rovers start their league campaign with an away game down in Drogheda and on the following Monday they’ve a tough Setanta Cup game against Northern Irish side Cliftonville.

Rovers fans are quite optimistic with the forthcoming season predicting a top place finish, we’ll see how they start.

Looking at the FAI Ford Cup champions now, Sligo Rovers. Alike Shamrock Rovers they’ve won all their pre-season games so far. To which they finish their pre-season Saturday night vs Longford Town. This week, Sligo Rovers will be pleased with their recent signings through Pascal Millien, David Cawley, Liam Martin and Colm McLoughlin. Sligo kick off their campaign with a tough task away to Shelbourne on March 2nd, then following that is a tie against UCD in the Showgrounds with that being Sligo’s first home league game of 2012. Sligo fans are hoping they’re ready and can put all the recent troubles they’ve been having behind them.

Now, back to the Dublin sides. We take a look at St.Patrick’s Athletic, Pats have had a tough pre-season as they found themselves on the wrong end of a 1-0 result to Cliftonville in the 2012 Setanta Cup, to which they saw themselves bow out earlier than expected. They start their season with a task against Bray Wanderers in Richmond Park. They’ll be hoping to start of with a great result. Manager Liam Buckley has brought in a lot of new fresh faces including some old faces with Brendan Clarke who wore the Red and White before.

Now, sticking with Dublin sides. UCD up next, the students look to be in for another difficult season this year. They kick off their campaign with a home tie vs Cork City on March 2nd. Not too much to write about UCD except they’ve had a good pre-season and I’d say they’d be happy with a seventh place finish, they’re on the same level as Bray in my opinion. Who comes in next, we take a look at Bray. The Seaside team are boosted by the signing of both former Dundalk and Bohemians man Jason Byrne, they crashed out the Setanta Cup through a two leg defeat to Glentoran. They face a tough trip to Richmond Park on the opening day of the 2012 season. They’re hoping to stay away from relegation this year to which will be a tough task.

Now we’re going to tie both Drogheda United and Monaghan together. They’re rounded up now, Drogheda first. They’re facing a tough task as they host the Champions down in Hunky Dory Park on March 2nd, that is followed by a tough game away to newly promoted Cork City. Drogheda will struggle to match the quality within the league this season like last year. Now, onto Monaghan United. These are newly promoted from the First Division, they kick off their campaign with a game home to Dundalk on March 2nd, kicking off at eight. Both clubs will be hoping they get off to the best of starts, but it will be difficult.

Now onto another top Dublin side, Bohemians FC. Bohs will be boosted by their progress made through the Setanta Cup against Portadown. And with a new manager and a fresh side of players they’ll be hoping to qualify for Europe, at best. They managed to beat Portadown in their Setanta Cup game to progress with what their fans will be more than happy with. A cup game will always be a bonus to the Dublin side, to which will be a tough campaign but I can see them nicking a European spot.

Now, we head down to the bottom of the Country. To which can only mean one thing, we look at Cork City! They’ll be boosted by the signing of former Shamrock Rovers man Dan Murray during the early months of the off-season. They kicked off their pre-season journey against Wexford Youths in a friendly, to which they won easily 3-1. They’ll be hoping for a strong start against Dublin side UCD, and they’ll be hoping to finish around mid-table for their first campaign in the LOI Premier Division.

Nearly done now as we look at Northern Irish side Derry City, after losing manager Stephen Kenny to Shamrock Rovers they’ll be hoping to still stand a strong title-challenge to which they will do. Also, after Sligo’s troubles the past week they’ll be in the firm driving seat to challenge Shamrock Rovers at the top of the Airtricity League table. They’ll be also boosted by the progress they made from the Setanta Cup against Lisburn Distillery.

Now, onto our last side of the night. Dundalk FC, They kick off their league campaign against relegation fighting side Monaghan United. Dundalk will be disappointed about losing Mark Quigley and former Bohemians man Jason Byrne. Dundalk will be hoping for a European qualification through the league this year. Their game against Monaghan will be followed by a home to St.Patrick’s Athletic side.

That rounds up the LOI and with the launch tomorrow, SportsnewsIreland will be in attendance.

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