Friday’s Irish Football Predictions and Best Bets

Andy

Treaty United v Athlone Town (First Division)

Friday 25th February – 7:45PM KO

Two sides who couldn’t have had more contrasting opening nights to the new League of Ireland season meet in gameweek two, as Treaty United host Athlone Town. 

The Limerick men got off to a flier last Friday as they put five past a much hyped Wexford side in Ferrycarrig Park while Athlone Town shipped five in a 5-2 home loss to title favourites, Waterford. 

That result has only strengthened suggestions by many pundits that Athlone Town are favourites for the wooden spoon this season after a fairly rudderless looking off season while Treaty United’s hopes of reaching the play-offs again this season have been given an ideal early boost. 

Former First Division title winner with Athlone, Enda Curran got his Treaty career off to a dream start with a brace in the win over Wexford and given how Athlone defended against Waterford, the Galway man is likely to be licking his lips in anticipation of the visit of his former side to the Market Fields this weekend. 

With this being Treaty’s first home game of the new campaign, expect United to be backed by a big home crowd and given the inexperience and low confidence levels Athlone Town are likely to be suffering from after that opening day hammering, this could be another long night at the office for Martin Russell’s men.

Prediction: Treaty to Win, 1.67 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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Waterford FC v Bray Wanderers (First Division)

Friday 25th February – 7:45PM KO

Again, this is a meeting of not only two teams who experienced very different outcomes on the opening day of the new season but this is also a clash of two clubs who seem to be operating on very different levels off the pitch at the moment as well. 

Despite a disastrous, and totally avoidable relegation at the end of last season, Waterford fans went into the 2022 campaign with a huge sense of optimism and excitement, following the arrival of a manager in Ian Morris who has a proven track record at this level, and the fact the new boss was able to retain the vast majority of the clubs very best players while adding one or two of his own signings. 

As for Bray Wanderers, their fans were already extremely skeptical of the club’s new ownership which saw almost an amalgamation of sorts take place with Cabinteely FC. Former head coach, Pat Devlin was installed as the man at the helm and instantly got to work on bringing a large bulk of his old players from Cabinteely across to Bray, a Cabinteely team that finished second-bottom last season. 

Critics had pointed out that Devlin appeared to have built up an unusually large playing squad that also lacked in genuine quality and such cynics were given even more ammunition when Wanderers were absolutely hammered 6-0 at home to Cork City on Friday. 

The manner of Bray’s defending and general performance was perhaps even more concerning than the scoreline itself and given the confidence flowing through this Waterford team following an opening day 5-2 success on the road to Athlone, this could prove to be another ugly night for the Cabinteely/Bray project.

Prediction: Waterford to Win, 1.4 on Betfair  (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


Bohemians v Dundalk (Premier Division)

Friday 25th February – 7:45PM KO

Like much of the UK, Ireland was hit hard by a trio of storms last week, which resulted in a number of postponements across both divisions in the League of Ireland. Bohemians were one of the clubs affected as their season opener away to Sligo was snowed off meaning Keith Long’s side may be lacking in a little bit of match sharpness going into this one. 

Dundalk, on the other hand, were involved in an opening day classic at home to potential title contenders, Derry City, with the Lilywhites taking the lead on a couple of occasions only for the game to end in a 2-2 draw with both sides feeling as if they could have claimed the three points in the end. 

The County Louth side certainly appeal as a team who will be entertaining to watch this season given they’ve got some really good attacking players, but Dundalk’s defensive frailties were certainly exposed on the opening night, particularly down the flanks. That is certainly an area the Gypsies should be looking to exploit with the likes of Liam Burt, Kris Twardek and Tyreke Wilson all more than capable of hurting Dundalk down the sides with their pace and direct running power. 

Strangely enough, these two teams faced off early in pre-season with Bohemians humbling Dundalk 5-1, don’t expect a repeat scoreline here given Dundalk rarely fielding their best XI in pre-season while as already pointed out, Bohemians may have a few cobwebs to blow away. 

However, history shows us this is usually a game featuring plenty of goals with both teams scoring in the last four H2H’s (including the friendly) while there was over 2.5 goals in 3 of those 4 matches.

Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.73 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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Derry City v Shamrock Rovers (Premier Division)

Friday 25th February – 7:45PM KO

A potential early mood setter for the title race takes place on Friday night as pretenders to the throne, Derry City welcome the kings of Irish football, Shamrock Rovers to the Brandywell Stadium. 

Back-to-back league winners, Shamrock Rovers got off to an ideal start with a 3-0 win at home to newly promoted UCD last week, while Derry City may feel as if they left a couple of points behind, following a pulsating 2-2 draw in Dundalk. 

The Candystripes went into that game without the services of some key players in Michael Duffy (hamstring), Matty Smith (slight strain) and Ronan Boyce (lacking fitness) while Patrick McEleney was only fit enough for a place on the bench. While the seriousness of Duffy’s issues is unknown, it would seem the likes of Smith and Boyce only just missed out on last weekend’s game, so they could return here which would be a major boost. 

The usually lethal marksman, Jamie McGonigle missed a glorious one v one chance with just minutes remaining against Dundalk but he did manage to open his account for 2022 earlier in the contest, which will have delighted the many punters who backed him for top goalscorer in the league this season. He could have a big say in this game on Friday. 

As for the Hoops, despite a 3-0 win on the opening day, they had to work hard to break down a UCD side who turned down some major openings of their own early on, incidents that Derry manager, Ruaidhri Higgins is sure to have picked up on and worked on in terms of video analysis with his players this week. 

Likewise, Rovers boss, Stephen Bradley will have isolated plenty of clips from Derry’s trip to Dundalk with new Candystripes goalkeeper, Brian Maher badly caught out from a corner for Dundalk’s second. Expect Rovers to test the young goalkeeper early on if they can win a few set-pieces with the likes of Pico Lopes, Lee Grace and Sean Hoare all more than capable of chipping in with goals from the back this year (Hoare got the opener from a corner last week v UCD). 

Given Shamrock Rovers won 3 of the 4 H2H games last season, Derry will need to lay down an early marker if they want to challenge the Hoops this season but given all but one of those games last season saw both teams score, that looks a good starting point here from a betting perspective.

Prediction: Both Teams to Score, 1.83 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


St.Patrick’s Athletic v Sligo Rovers (Premier Division)

Friday 25th February – 7:45PM KO

St.Patrick’s Athletic played the role of party poopers to perfection on the opening night of the new LOI season, as the Saints headed across to a sold out Tolka Park and put three goals past their newly promoted City rivals, Shelbourne, in what was legendary Irish international, Damien Duff’s first game in charge of Shels. 

However, 0-3 was certainly a very harsh and somewhat misleading scoreline with Shelbourne having much the better of the opening quarter of the game (including an early disallowed goal for offside) before one of the leagues brightest young talents, Darragh Burns popped up with a screamer from outside the area to give St.Pat’s the lead against the run of play. 

Some poor decision making a bad individual errors from the hosts saw St.Pat’s run out comfortable winners in the end, with the ultra-impressive Mark Doyle and substitute Jason McClelland also on the scoresheet for Tim Clancy’s side. 

However, at the back, St.Patrick’s Athletic didn’t exactly look water tight themselves and would certainly have been punished against a more clinical opponent. How sharp Sligo’s attack this season is remains to be seen, given their opening day match was snowed off. Liam Buckley lost the services of promising local striker, Johnny Kenny to Celtic with Aidan Keena from Falkirk his apparent replacement. New Zealand international, Max Mata has also arrived but it’s almost impossible to know what to expect from such signings this season.  

Having enjoyed a dream start to the season last week, with home advantage on their side and new signings such as Mark and Eoin Doyle appearing as if they are going to hit the ground running, siding with St.Pat’s appears to be the way to go here. However, the meeting of Pats and Sligo often proved somewhat unpredictable last season with Sligo Rovers winning the last two meetings to nil (0-3 & 2-0), while St.Pat’s also enjoyed a shutout success earlier in the campaign (2-0) with a 1-1 draw between the two also thrown into the mix. As a result, it’s best advised to side with Pats but on a more cautious basis here.

Prediction: St. Patrick’s Draw No Bet, 1.4 on Betfair (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)


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