LOI Digest: All eyes on Dublin derby for season opener

2018-02-16 10:45:59

Bohemian FC v Shamrock Rovers, 7.30pm

This Dublin Derby between the fiercest of rivals serves as the perfect curtain raiser to the new league campaign and it's a game that's live on RTÉ 2 from 7pm.

Demand saw the home fans' allocation to this fixture sell out two weeks in advance, while the away end followed suit shortly afterwards.

It's the first time since 2005 that the opening night fixtures have thrown up the Dublin Derby. On that occasion, Bohs and Rovers played out a 0-0 draw at Dalymount.

Gaffer talk

Keith long (Bohemians): "The sell-out signs have been up in Dalymount Lane for two weeks, which is great to see. It's just a pity Dalymount no longer has the capacity of years gone - there has been massive interest.

"It's a big occasion for the supporters and everyone involved with both clubs. But for both sets of players, it's about getting it right on the pitch. Our players have worked hard in pre-season and we believe they will be focused and disciplined in their approach."

Stephen Bradley (Shamrock Rovers): "We know we have to start better than we did last year. We dropped too many points in the first round of games and we can't do that again this year. It obviously left us well off the top two points wise come the end of the season so we know we have to start right."

Team news

Shamrock Rovers: Trevor Clarke is suspended but apart from that, Bradley has a full deck to choose from.

Bohemians: Ryan Swan has suffered a torn cruciate, which could rule him out for the majority of the season. That loss has been compounded with Cristian Magerusan fracturing his metatarsal.

Dundalk v Bray Wanderers, 7.45pm

Last season's runners-up Dundalk begin their new campaign at home to Bray Wanderers, and will be looking to bounce back from a dramatic 4-2 President's Cup defeat against Cork City.

Gaffer talk

Stephen Kenny (Dundalk): "There’s always a great anticipation around the new season kicking off. Always a great anticipation around the town about the football being back. The first league game is always exciting.

"A bit of a flu virus has hit the camp this week but hopefully we can come through. We will have to see how we are but we have had a good pre-season and we are ready to go for the new campaign. "

Team news

Dundalk: Stephen O’Donnell is out with a calf injury, John Mountney with a knee injury, while Sean Hoare is a doubt thanks to a hamstring strain.

Bray Wanderers:

St Pat's v Cork City, Richmond Park, 7.45pm

Cork City begin the defence of their league title win Inchicore. The Leesiders rounded off their pre-season preparations with a 4-2 win away to Dundalk in the President’s Cup.

The last meeting between the sides saw Pat’s claim a 4-2 win at Richmond Park at the tail end of last season. City had won the previous two league meetings, a 1-0 win at Turner’s Cross in July and 3-0 win at Richmond Park in April.

Team news

St Pat's: Saints boss Liam Buckley is without the services of Killian Brennan and Thomas Byrne through injury, but otherwise has a full squad available for selection.

Cork City: Garry Buckley is back in light training but is unlikely to feature, while Johnny Dunleavy is still a few weeks away from being available for selection. Josh O’Hanlon is also a doubt.

Gaffer talk:

Liam Buckley: (St Pat's): "It's a great game to start with. Cork are going to come in high spirits from the win in the President's Cup Final against Dundalk last weekend. They are tough competitors and they have signed a few good attacking players, but we've also signed some good players. We feel we've made some good progress over the pre-season and we hope to give them a good game."

John Caulfield (Cork City): "They are much stronger than they were and looking at their pre-season, they seem to be on form. We have to be ready from the start. Overall, we are happy with the players who have come in. We are in a position where we think our team is good, we think it might be better than last season, but time will tell on that."

Waterford FC v Derry City, RSC, 7.45pm

Waterford are back in the top-flight for the first time in a decade and welcome Derry City to the RSC tonight.

The sole representative from last year’s First Division, the recruitment of the likes of Ishmahil Akinade, David Webster, Bastein Hery and Gavan Holahan adds players with proven ability in League of Ireland football.

For the Candystripes, the 800km round trip is the first of two successive away matches as next week they visit Sligo. Cork City’s double means Derry are looking forward to European football and will be hoping to push on domestically after a challenging season last time out with the tragic loss of talismanic captain Ryan McBride.

The sides last met in the league in October 2007with the Blues coming out 2-1 winners thanks to goals from Vinny Sullivan and Willie John Kiely.

Team news

Waterford: The Blues have been hit by injuries and both their captain Paul Keegan and John Martin will miss out on Friday’s game.

Derry City: Kenny Shiels has brought in a number of players from outside the league into a new looks squad including Armin Aganovic from Raufoss IL and David Hopkirk from Dunfermline Athletic. Rory Hale has come in from Galway along with his brother Ronan on loan.

Gaffer talk:

Alan Reynolds: (Waterford): "There is a great buzz around in the build up to the match and we’re aware that the people of Waterford have waited a long time for the return of Premier Division football.We have tried to get as many players as possible adequate game time in preparation for Friday night’s game. We know that they are a very good side and they have finished fourth in the league the last two seasons so we know that it’s going to be a tough opening game."

Kenny Shiels (Derry City): "It’s all about being positive and staying positive. Even in adverse situations, and I’m sure that the boys have learned a lot from the pre-season we have had. It’s been indifferent to say the least, but you take it on the chin, you move on, you stay positive. We’re really thankful for the new stadium we are about to move in to. "

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