It’s a massive weekend for all of us football fans.

Granted, the start of the highly anticipated Euro 2020 tournament is extremely exciting, and will dominate the headlines, but for a certain section of society, we’re just as elated for another reason.

That’s right, after the mid-season hiatus, the League of Ireland returns with a packed fixture list across both the Premier and First Divisions.

So, without any further ado, let’s dive right in and see what the LOI loyalist can look forward to this weekend.

Friday, 11th of June 2021

Premier Division

Dundalk vs Waterford

Venue – Oriel Park

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home 1/7 Draw 5/1 Away 12/1

* All odds are accurate at time of writing and were provided by popular Irish bookmaker.

Watch On – LOITV

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2021 has been a disastrous year for both these clubs, for a hatful of different reasons.

Dundalk picked up an impressive 2-0 away win over St. Pats before the break and will be looking to carry that momentum over. With a couple of winnable home games on paper coming their way, now could be an ideal time for the Lilywhites to build a head of steam.

Talk of upcoming budget cuts and players departing during July’s transfer window is worrying, but they must kick on into the fight for European football to ensure this latest decline isn’t a lasting one.

Waterford are now under new ownership after Lee Power sold the club to R & S Holding LTD.

Of course, time will only tell how positive of a sale this will be, especially if some controversial figures remain in and around the club, behind the scenes.

One thing we do know, is that Waterford are struggling, badly.

The Blues are rock bottom of the table, 11 points deep into the relegation zone. They haven’t earned a single point in their last seven games and have only found the net once during that run.

New manager Marc Bircham seems to be the fresh blood the Munster club badly needed, but already he may be looking at an impossible mission, when talking about keeping his side away from the drop.

Prediction – Dundalk win.

Derry City vs Bohemians

Venue – Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home 2/1 Draw 21/10 Away 6/5

Watch On – LOITV

Former boss Declan Devine now front runner to take Derry City hot seat -  Irish Mirror Online

Derry City have shaken off their terrible start to the Premier Division campaign, and now find themselves on a five-game unbeaten run.

They picked up a somewhat surprising away win in Drogheda before the break, beating the Louth side 2-1.

Dundalk loanee Will Patching scored a double on that occasion, showing just how important he has been to their revival under manager Ruaidhrí Higgins.

One real remaining issue at Derry this season is their home record. The Candystripes haven’t registered a single home win all season, something they’ll be desperate to try change as they progress up the league table.

On the other hand, Bohemians away record has been less than stellar this season.

The Dublin outfit have only won three times on the road, with two of those wins coming against the sides in the drop zone.

They’re another team that’s turned the ship around, following an underwhelming start to their season.

Bohs picked up a pair of comprehensive victories before the break, most notably destroying Dundalk 5-1 in Dalymount Park.

Keith Long seems to be coming to grips with his best starting team for this season. Resulting in the likes of Ross Tierney, Dawson Devoy, Liam Burt, and Andy Lyons having a run of excellent performances.

Prediction – Tight Bohemians win.

Shamrock Rovers vs Finn Harps

Venue – Tallaght Stadium

Kick Off – 8.00 pm

Odds – Home 1/4 Draw 15/4 Away 11/1

Watch On – LOITV

Alan Mannus – Soccer

Champions, Shamrock Rovers were arguably one of the teams that were grateful for the mid-season break.

They needed another last gasp goal to beat strugglers, Longford. Even before that, they lost their pole position after losing two games on the bounce.

At this stage, you still may feel it’s their title to lose. Players are returning from injury, and Richie Towell is still to enter the fold.

With current leaders Sligo Rovers playing on Saturday, a win for Rovers in this would certainly put this title race into full throttle.

Finn Harps will be delighted in their comfortable mid-table position.

The Donegal club have been struggling for a consistent run of form, as far back as April.

However, with the wealth of creative options in their midfield, and strikers Adam Foley and Tunde Owolabi on hand, we wouldn’t be counting them out of this one just yet.

Prediction – Rovers win.

First Division

Bray Wanderers vs Shelbourne

Venue – Carlisle Grounds

Kick Off – 7.30 pm

Odds – Home 21/10 Draw 13/5 Away 19/20

Watch On – LOITV

Bray Wanderers outline how club will be financed through sale of apartments  and rental income

Realistically, we would’ve imagined this game would be against two serious title contenders.

So far this season, that simply hasn’t been the case for Bray.

The Seagulls three game winning run, came to a screeching halt before the break, as Treaty United scored two late goals to take all three points.

As disappointing as that result will be for them, it’s draws that have killed Bray this year. They’ve drawn half of their games, dropping points to the likes of Cork, Cobh, and Treaty, on the opening weekend.

They need a big statement win here and start closing that ten-point gap between themselves, and Shels.

Speaking of Shels, they’ve been fantastic of late.

Still unbeaten and have only dropped points during three games. They comfortably beat Galway 4-0 last time out, with Ryan Brennan and Michael O’Connor on the scoresheet again.

Both sides have substantial attacking talent in their ranks, but both have the best defensive records in the league. Not that you could tell by their first encounter this season, which ended 3-3.

Same again, lads.

Prediction – Another big win for Shelbourne.

Galway United vs Athlone Town

Venue – Eamonn Deacy Park

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home 3/4 Draw 14/5 Away 13/5

Watch On – LOITV

News | Galway United

We’re sick of saying it at this stage, but Galway have been such a let-down to watch.

The Tribesmen have only won three games all season. Even at that, they came against sides you’d expect them to be turning over.

The standings don’t lie, it’s going to be a competitive First Division this season, so all is not lost for Galway. A big result over Athlone here, could give them a badly needed shot in the arm, but they’ll need to get a move on.

In fairness, Athlone have already battered Galway 3-1 back in April, which kick-started a four-game hot streak for them.

It hasn’t been as rosy since then, however.

Despite the fact they’re in the top three, Athlone have only won once in their previous four matches. Heartbreakingly losing to UCD in a cracking 3-2 game, via a late Mark Dignam winner.

Prediction – Scored draw.

UCD vs Cobh Ramblers

Venue – UCD Bowl

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home 1/2 Draw 10/3 Away 4/1

Watch On – LOITV

Going back to UCD, their late win over Athlone was a nice way to finish ahead the week break.

Before that, they lost to Shelbourne, and surprisingly went to a scoreless draw against, Cork City.

Besides that, little blip, they’ve been unbelievable all season, and seemed to be scoring goals for fun at times.

That’s evident by their 4-0 win over Cobh earlier in the season.

Behind Wexford, Cobh Ramblers have the worst record in terms of scoring and conceding goals.

They picked up a tight 1-0 win over their county rivals Cork City, before the break. Cobh have only mustered up one win on the road all season, not good omens when facing a free-scoring UCD side.

Prediction – UCD, this week’s bankers.

Wexford vs Treaty United

Venue – Ferrycarrig Park

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home 13/5 Draw 12/5 Away 17/20

Watch On – LOITV

Report Wexford 20 Bray Wanderers SSE Airtricity League

Finally, we can say some nice things about Wexford.

They picked up their first win and points this season, beating Cabinteely 2-0, two weeks ago.

St. Pats loanee, Kyle Robinson popped up with his second goal of the campaign, meaning he’s scored half of the club’s goals in 2021.

It doesn’t change anything in the grand scheme of things, it just gives the squad a minor confidence boost, and could push them on for another decent home result.

They’ll find it difficult against a Treaty side with a solid defensive record.

As we already chatted about, that win over Bray in their last game would’ve done wonders for them, as they look to solidify themselves as serious play-off contenders.

The only caveat you could throw in about this match, is the fact Treaty still haven’t won away yet in their short League of Ireland history.

Prediction – Tough call, really could be another draw.

Cork City vs Cabinteely

Venue – Turners Cross

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home 7/10 Draw 11/4 Away 3/1

Watch On – LOITV

Cork Business League Back the Sale of Turner's Cross Stadium Naming Rights  – Cork Business League

Cork find themselves third from bottom, with only two wins on their record all season.

Goals have been a major issue for both sides on display here, meaning we might not be in for an all-out goal fest.

Just like their last game against Cobh, Cork must be winning these games if they have any chance of making it into the play-offs. Something that is sadly looking less likely, as the weeks go on.

Despite their recent defeat to bottom of the table Wexford, Cabinteely are still holding on to a play-off position, for now.

Cabinteely already hold a 1-0 win over Cork from back in April, in what was a razor close game.

Prediction – Tight Cork win.

Saturday, 12th of June 2021

Premier Division

Longford Town vs St. Patrick’s Athletic

Venue – Bishopsgate

Kick Off – 7.30 pm

Odds – Home 5/1 Draw 13/5 Away 8/15

Watch On – LOITV

Match Preview: Longford Town v Dundalk – Soccer

Longford are still searching for their first win since their opening game of the 2021 Premier Division campaign.

They’ve now lost four games on the trot, and behind bottom side Waterford, have the worst scoring numbers in the league.

Of course, they were unlucky against Rovers when conceding such a late goal, but already there seems to be a huge gulf in class between the bottom two, and everyone else.

You could argue St. Pats are still in the title picture, but European football seems the more viable option for the Saints.

The performances have dropped in the past number of weeks, with recent defeats against Drogheda and Dundalk highlighting that.

In fairness, that Drogheda defeat was the only time Pats have lost on their travels all season. They’re in need of a win, just to stay in touching distance of both Shamrock and Sligo Rovers.

Prediction – Pats to grind out a win.

Sligo Rovers vs Drogheda United

Venue – The Showgrounds

Kick Off – 7.45 pm

Odds – Home 20/23 Draw 21/10 Away 3/1

Watch On – LOITV

Rovers left to count the cost following FAI decision to postpone Dundalk  game - Ocean FM

League leaders Sligo Rovers now have a giant target on their back, and a long way to go before they can even think about touching the title.

Credit where it’s due, they’ve been fantastic for most of the season.

They’ve won their last five games and have only let in a single goal in the process.

This match, and their one with St. Pats next week are huge, and wins will confirm their status, as the ones to beat.

Even if Liam Buckley’s men do fall off the top, they’ve already done Sligo proud, and brought their club back to where they belong.

Newly promoted Drogheda have been spectacular since returning to the top tier, and can certainly forget about any relegation worries.

The Louth side find themselves in fourth place, with serious aspirations of making European football a real possibility.

With their strength in depth, creative talent and mix of youth & experience, it’s hard to bet against them.

A defeat in their last game against Derry did nullify a four-game winning run, but a result in Sligo would be a real signal of intent.

Prediction – Can’t call it, scored draw.