New SSE Airtricity League Premier Division season kicks off tonight
The new SSE Airtricity League Premier Division season kicks off tonight as we get set for a change of format. The top-tier will consist of 10 teams this season which means the Premier Division clubs will have an extra three games a season. Champions Cork City are in action on the opening night as are last season's runners up Dundalk. The eye catching fixture is the Dublin derby between old foes Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers.
Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers - Dalymount Park - 7.30pm
Rovers finished third last season so their aim will be to close the gap on the top two and Stephen Bradley's side appear to be the best equipped side to do so. Rovers have a good record at the home of their rivals with just one defeat from their last five league games at Dalymount. Bohs boss Keith Long has done a great job at the club and managed his side to a fifth place finish last season. Bohs were boosted by the news that Eoghan Stokes joined the club yesterday but it's unlikely he'll feature even if he does get international clearance in time. Trevor Clarke is unavailable for Rovers due to suspension.
St. Pats v Cork City - Richmond Park - 7.45pm
The key to Cork's title success last season was their excellent start and the champions are fully expected to make a winning start to their league campaign in Inchicore. John Caulfield won't have too many problems keeping his players hungry as they go from the chasers to the side with a target on their back. Sean Maguire is gone but the likes of Graham Cummins and Barry McNamee have signed and we should see a lot more starts for the talented Kieran Sadlier. Pats have been busy in the transfer market as they look to avoid a repeat of last season's disappointment when they only avoided relegation on the final day of the season. Simon Madden was a great bit of business and a lot of will be expected from Kevin Toner, a player with Premier League experience.
Dundalk v Bray Wanderers - Oriel Park - 7.45pm
Former Liverpool defender Dan Cleary is the latest signing for Dundalk who have also brought back Pat Hoban while Ronan Murray made the move from Galway United. Stephen Kenny doesn't know what his strongest starting 11 is yet so he'll have to work that out in the first few weeks of the new campaign. The Lilywhites can't afford to lose too much ground to Cork like they did last season but it's unlikely the Leesiders will start with 12 consecutive league wins. Most people expect Bray to get relegated this season given their off-field problems. Dave Mackey has taken charge of the first team which does at least include Gary McCabe.
Waterford v Derry City - RSC - 7.45pm
There are high hopes for Waterford on their return to the top flight but can they make the step up from the First Division to the Premier Division. They've signed Ismahil Akinade in the hope he can provide them with the goals to make them a match for anyone in the division. Derry will be back at the Brandywell this season and under Kenny Shiels, they tend to start the season well.
Sligo Rovers v Limerick - Showgrounds - Saturday - 7.45pm
Sligo signed former Liverpool striker Adam Morgan earlier in the year so fans across the country will be interested to see what kind of impact he makes here. Limerick boss Tommy Barrett hasn't had long to prepare his side for the new season but the club did manage to sign the Dennehy brothers.