We will all be like kids at Christmas this weekend. It has been a long and frustrating wait for all League of Ireland fans. But finally, the football is returning this weekend.

While we would all love nothing more than to be packing into our ground of choice. We will all be bar stooling the league for the next short while. A strange concept for many of us but unfortunately a necessary one.

However, this is only a temporary measure. Before we know it, we will have our beloved match days back.

For now, let’s just enjoy having the league we all love so much back in action.

Here’s what we can look forward to from the Premier Division and First Division this weekend.

League of Ireland Match Ball - Umbro

Friday 31st of July 2020

Premier Division

Derry City vs Sligo Rovers

Venue – Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

Kick Off – 5.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 8/11 Draw 12/5 Away Win 10/3

Watch On – WatchLOI

The first game to kick things back off for Irish top tier football. It will also be the first game to be broadcasted on the new WatchLOI service.

Again, Derry find themselves in a season where the main aim is European football. They got off to a patchy start with only one win out of their opening four games. It will be important to see how quickly their new signings can integrate themselves into an already very good squad. Derry will also be hoping striker Stephen Fallon can continue his pre lockdown form. He scored in his last two games before lockdown.

For Sligo, the race for survival starts here. They got off to a horrific start losing all four of their opening games. Leaving them rock bottom with zero points. They only managed two goals in that time clearly missing last seasons top scorer Romeo Parkes. The Bit o Red have surprisingly gained the services of former Derry man Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe. However, he isn’t eligible for another two weeks.

Verdict – Derry City

Derry League Finish – 4th

Sligo League Finish – 9th. Junior may not be enough to cover their other flaws.

Im Privileged To Be In This Position Derry City Manager Declan ...

Dundalk vs St. Patricks Athletic

Venue – Oriel Park

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 4/7 Draw 13/5 Away Win 9/2

Watch On – RTE Two

We finish up the opening round of Premier Division fixtures with the champions Dundalk in action.

They will need to hit the ground running the reclaim their title this season. They looked as good as ever before the break winning four out of their five games. However, that one defeat came against title rivals Shamrock Rovers who will take some catching this season. They will be confident knowing their visitors haven’t beaten them in their last seven meetings.

Not the ideal start for the Saints but they could catch the champions cold. Unfortunately, they will be without new loanee Georgie Kelly as he can’t play against his parent club Dundalk. They will need to nail down some consistency in their results and starting 11 soon enough if they want to be in the Europa League next season.

Verdict – Dundalk

Dundalk League Finish – 2nd the early defeat to Rovers might be costly.

St. Pats League Finish – 5th as a Pats fan myself I hope it can be better.

Flores stunner caps easy win for Dundalk over old rivals Cork City ...

First Division

Galway United vs Cabinteely

Venue – Eamonn Deacy Park

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 7/5 Draw 23/10 Away Win 8/5

It took until the last weekend of July, but league action finally returns to Eamonn Deacy Park. Galway will be looking for a big win to really kick start their season. They started off with two underwhelming away draws. If they push off quickly, they still could make a break for the play offs. Their big squad might come in handy as games will be coming faster than usual.

Cabinteely surprised a few with their unbeaten start to the season. They’ll be hoping that momentum can carry over to post lockdown life. Along with the form of striker Shane Barnes who is leading the way with three goals from their opening three games. It will be interesting to see how they get on against stiffer opposition. As you could argue that they haven’t played any of their possible title rivals just yet.

Verdict – Draw

Galway League Finish – 4th

Cabinteely – 3rd they won’t win it, but they won’t free fall either.

Galway United announce return of Vince Faherty for 2020 - Galway Daily

UCD vs Longford Town

Venue – UCD Bowl

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 11/5 Draw 23/10 Away Win EVS

Last time we saw UCD they were well beaten 5-1 by Drogheda United. While it may be another tough game for them, they will be looking for better. They’ll be aiming to steady the ship after a rocky opening three games with a win, a draw and a defeat to their name. It all depends on what UCD shows up on the day.

Longford are another team who got off to an unbeaten start. Two wins out of two is exactly what they would have wanted. Now they’ll be looking to carry that form over into the return of football. They already have a big win over possible title challengers Drogheda United. Longford will see this as their first step to automatic promotion.

Verdict – Longford

UCD League Finish – 7th

Longford League Finish – 2nd

Statistics Ucd Afc 10 Cobh Ramblers SSE Airtricity League

Bray Wanderers vs Cobh Ramblers

Venue – Carlisle Ground

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 1/2 Draw 3/1 Away Win 4/1

This is defiantly one for our accumulator friends to avoid. Both sit on three points and will have similar aspirations of pushing for a possible play off place.

Bray will be looking to get back into the top tier after disappointingly failing to do so last season. With a win and a defeat to their name already they’ll be looking to springboard back into the swing of things. They have only lost once to Cobh since 1999 and that came last season.

Cobh will be solid opposition for anyone this season. They got off to a bad start with two defeats back to back. They did pick up the W in their last outing before the break against Athlone.

Verdict – Bray

Bray League Finish – 5th

Cobh League Finish – 6th

Bray Wanderers 2020 Umbro Home Kit | 19/20 Kits | Football shirt blog

Athlone Town vs Wexford Youths

Venue – Athlone Town Stadium

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home Win 6/4 Draw 23/10 Away Win 7/5

These two teams kicking off in what is expected to be a basement battle. Both got off to poor starts and sit in the bottom three.

Athlone have been the worst so far. They sit rock bottom of the First Division with zero points after two games. Darren Meenan has been the one bright spark for Athlone before the break. The experienced midfielder has netted two goals from the spot already. This could be an ideal game to get their season up and running.

Wexford also come into this one without a win from their opening three games. They only have one goal to their name with a late goal by Conor English against UCD before the break.

Both teams haven’t won a game in over a year now. Something they will be looking to change.

Verdict – Athlone to finally get off the mark.

Athlone League Finish – 10th rock bottom.

Wexford League Finish – 9th not far behind.

Report Bray Wanderers 01 Athlone Town SSE Airtricity League

Saturday 1st of August 2020

Premier Division

Shelbourne vs Waterford

Venue – Tolka Park

Kick Off – 2.00 pm

Odds – Home Win 8/15 Draw 13/5 Away Win 9/2

Watch On – WatchLOI

Another one to avoid on your accumulator’s lads. Both teams come into this game with an identical start to the season before the lockdown. Two wins and two defeats from their first four games.

Shelbourne like others will be stiff competition for anyone for the remainder of the season. They have a talent rich squad that could even make a stab at European football. All depends on how they preform post lockdown. They haven’t beaten Waterford in their last three meetings a streak they will be looking to break on Saturday. It’s a shame this is behind closed doors as an afternoon game on a Saturday would have made for a lively Tolka Park.

Waterford made the headlines plenty of times during this break. They will be looking to put all the off-field drama aside and focus on keeping their Premier Division status for next season. New manager John Sheridan will be looking to bring new hope with his reign. They should have enough to keep them safe. Especially with striker Michael O’Connor returning to the club for another spell.

Verdict – Draw

Shelbourne League Finish – 6th

Waterford League Finish – 7th

Shelbourne v Dundalk - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division ...

Shamrock Rovers vs Finn Harps

Venue – Tallaght Stadium

Kick Off – 5.00 pm

Odds – Home Win 1/6 Draw 9/2 Away Win 13/1

Watch On – WatchLOI

The first of 14 huge games for Shamrock Rovers. They looked excellent before the break going unbeaten. Even picking up a vital win against champions Dundalk. They’ll be looking to continue this run, and you would imagine they would with the opposition. Before the break they were a team full of confidence. It could be the year that the league title will be heading back to Tallaght for the first time since 2011.

This is a nightmare start for Harps who will be hoping to catch Rovers cold from the break. It could be the season that once again sees them drop out of the league. Especially with others around them like Sligo and Cork recruiting well. They hold a win over Sligo who could be their closest relegation rivals. However, looking at their opposition in this one they haven’t beaten Rovers since 2008.

Verdict – Shamrock Rovers Hammering

Shamrock Rovers League Finish – 1st think it will be their year.

Finn Harps League Finish – 10th think it won’t be their year.

Graham Burke On Return To Shamrock Rovers & Ireland Prospects

Sunday 2nd of August 2020

Premier Division

Cork City vs Bohemians

Venue – Turner’s Cross

Kick Off – 5.00 pm

Odds – Home Win 4/1 Draw 23/10 Away Win 4/6

Watch On – WatchLOI

Cork have made some good additions to their squad. The returning Kevin O’Connor and Graham Cummins could be key additions to keeping the Munster men in the Premier Division. They currently sit second bottom with just one win from their opening five games. With that win coming against fellow strugglers Finn Harps.

While Bohemians will be looking at European football for next season. They sit happily in third with nine points from their first five games. They will be looking to hold on to key man Danny Mandroiu after interest from Dutch side FC Twente. Even at that they have plenty of good players in their squad to impress this season.

Verdict – Tight Bohemians win

Cork League Finish – 8th

Bohemians League Finish – 3rd  

Cork City extend Joseph Olowu loan for rest of the season - Irish ...

First Division

Shamrock Rovers B vs Drogheda United

Venue – Tallaght Stadium

Kick Off – 3.00 pm

No Odds Available at Time of Writing

The second game to be played at Tallaght Stadium this weekend. Rovers B face another tough team after playing Longford, Galway and Cabinteely in their first three games. A very tough start that has seen them only earn a single point and score a single goal. They have some good young talent in their ranks like Brandon Kavanagh and Thomas Oluwya who will get some great experience this season.

Drogheda are fancied by many to win the First Division. They won two games from their opening three. Despite losing to possible title rivals Longford they are still favourites to win the league. They have a great mix of experience and youth. With the likes of Brandon Bermingham, Richie O’Farrell and Jordan Adeyemo learning off Chris Lyons, Hugh Douglas, Sean Brennan and Derek Prendergast.

Verdict – Drogheda

Shamrock Rovers B League Finish – 8th

Drogheda League Finish – 1st enough to comfortably win the league.

Hoops teen Brandon Kavanagh called into Ireland U21s