Friday & Saturday’s Irish Football Predictions and Best Bets

Andy

Shelbourne v St.Patrick’s Athletic (Premier Division)

Friday 18th February – 7:45PM KO

The first televised game of the new domestic campaign comes from Tolka Park as legendary Irish international and two-time English Premier League winner, Damien Duff takes charge of Shelbourne for the very first time. It’ll be a baptism of fire for the “Duffer” too as Dublin rivals and FAI Cup champions, St.Pat’s come to town after an interesting off-season to say the least. 

The dust had barely settled on the Saints cup glory when the news broke their boss Stephen O’Donnell had opted to head down the road to former club Dundalk, leaving St.Pat’s scrambling to find a new manager before vultures began to circle for their top performers.  

While O’Donnell did manage to tempt Sam Bone, Robbie Benson, and John Mountney to follow him to Dundalk, the newly appointed Tim Clancy was well backed in the window with the arrival of Bolton Wanderers striker Eoin Doyle a major sign of intent.  

As for Shels, the newly promoted First Division champions have a fresh look on and off the field with young players full of potential such as Aodh Dervin and Aaron O’Driscoll being recruited by Damien Duff. The Red’s goal this term will simply be to re-establish themselves in the top-flight while St.Pat’s will want to improve on last season’s second-place finish and FAI Cup win.  

While Pat’s defence looks an area of concern, their attacking options are among the best in the league and they should have enough to hurt Shels here

Prediction: St. Pat’s Draw No Bet, 1.55 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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Sligo Rovers v Bohemians (Premier Division)

Saturday 19th February – 7:45PM KO

It’s 3rd v 5th from last season at the Showgrounds on Saturday night and everything suggests there won’t be much between the Bit O’Red and the Gypsies in the final league table again this season. Only 5 points separated the sides in the end with Sligo winning 2 of the H2H’s, Bohs winning 1 and the sides sharing a 1-1 draw towards the end of the year.  

Despite qualifying for Europe, many were disappointed with Sligo Rovers last season as they crashed out of Europe against an average Icelandic team before crashing out of the FAI Cup against a First Division team during what was a 6-match winless run. Just 5 wins from their final 18 league games saw Liam Buckley’s men fall over the line into third and given some of the players they’ve lost in the off-season, it’s impossible to see them maintaining let alone improving on last season’s third place.  

Inconsistency cost Bohemians a place in Europe and like Sligo they’ve lost key players but that fourth place looks wide open and that’s what makes this such a big season opener for both sides.  

Sligo Rovers had the fourth best home record last season (8W, 5D, 5L) while Bohemians lost more games than they won on the road (W5, D6, L7) but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see a similar outcome to the sides final day encounter here last November (1-1).  

Prediction: Sligo Rovers Double Chance, 1.67 on Betfair  (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


Athlone Town v Waterford FC (First Division)

Friday 18th February – 7:45PM KO

Off field Shenanigans ultimately cost Waterford their top-flight status last season as a disastrous fall out between chairman and then manager, Marc Bircham saw the Blues go into a promotion/relegation play-off final without the popular former QPR midfielder in the dugout and UCD duly capatilised to book their spot in the Premier Division for 2022 at Waterford’s expense. 

Since then, the Munster men have done their best to pick up the pieces and build a squad capable of bouncing straight back with last season’s First Division winning manager, Ian Morris appointed to the RSC hot seat, while key players such as Brian Murphy, Junior and Phoenix Patterson have been retained. As a result, Waterford are the bookies favorites to win the division. 

As for Athlone Town, they invested heavily for the first time in many years this time last year in the hope of going up. However, the Midlanders proved far too inconsistent, mainly due to the leaky nature of their defence, and as a result they parted ways with their manager, Adrian Carberry. 

Paul Doolin finished off the campaign in charge but literally couldn’t hit the road quick enough, a sure-fire sign investment would not be forthcoming for 2022. New boss, Martin Russell has had to shop in the non-leagues and for young unproven types with little expected this season. 

This looks an ideal starting point for Ian Morris & Waterford. 

Prediction: Waterford to Win, 1.62 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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Longford Town v Cobh Ramblers (First Division)

Saturday 19th February – 7:45PM KO

Recently relegated Longford Town begin their quest for redemption at home to a Cobh Ramblers side who have often been a thorn in their sides down the years. Longford have lost their last two H2H encounters against the Rams but the Midlanders will be expected to open their First Division campaign with a win against a team who finished second from bottom last season.  

 The home team have an entirely new look from the one relegated last season with a new manager in Gary Cronin and essentially an entirely new squad of players. While De Town have endured a winless pre-season campaign, those friendlies against top-flight opposition should have proved valuable in terms of getting minutes under the players belts and building a familiarity with one another.  

 In truth, on paper, the squad assembled by Cronin doesn’t look strong enough to compete for the title or even win promotion via the play-offs but there are a couple of potential gems in the Longford team, particularly the players Cronin brought over from his old club Bray Wanderers. Ryan Graydon is the name to look out for this season and the winger will need to chip in plenty with Longford looking light in the forward areas. As for Cobh, they’ve had to shop locally for talent as they simply can’t compete financially with some of the bigger clubs at this level, they could be in for a very tough season. 

Prediction: Longford to Win, 1.75 on Betfair  (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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