'Rumori' tries to bring coverage of as many continental leagues as possible.
For the SSE Airtricity League (or also known as 'League oif Ireland') we are counting on the insider look of Keith O'Dwyer.
Keith has worked for several years at the Irish club Sligo Rovers as he was the Club Promotion Officer and Secretary. He is now a volunteer within the club and the match commentator for local radio, Ocean FM.
'Radio Ireland' will bring stories and inside look from the Irish football realm.
Not to mention that Sander Puri is now a player at Sligo and we will follow him very closely this season!
With near perfect symmetry the national leagues in Ireland and Estonia return to action this weekend.
The Irish version of the Super-Cup which is called the President’s Cup kicked off the new SSE Airtricity League season and was played last weekend in Oriel Park with reigning Premier Division champions Dundalk winning 2-1 against FAI Cup holders St. Patrick’s Athletic. Dundalk looked lively and a bit sharper than St. Patrick’s and it’s clear that the champions are in no mood to relinquish their hard won crown. For me they remain the team to beat and hot on their heels will be teams like Cork City, St. Pat’s and Shamrock Rovers.
As is so often the case though a dark horse team breaks from the pack and ends up splitting the title contenders and for me and I say this without bias (or maybe just a little bit!) that team will be Sligo Rovers. For the rest of this preview I will be concentrating on Estonia’s favourite Irish team – Sligo Rovers!
Big claim to make but I’m sticking by it and the links were only strengthened by the signing of Estonian international Sander Puri while Mihail Gutak of Tartu Tammeka has also revealed he is a big Rovers fans!
Puri was one of a number of new signings at the Showgrounds as new manager Owen Heary went about his business in a quiet but effective manner. He brought in a number of talented young players who had served him well during his time as boss of Bohemian F.C. and also retained the core group of players who have been key to the success that Rovers had over the years. Pre-season results have been impressive and the team have been playing very attractively and also scoring freely but well that will count for nothing come Saturday night as they welcome Cork to the Showgrounds for their first game of the season.
Cork were last season’s runners-up so it is a stiff test for Rovers from the very start. Puri had missed the last pre-season game through injury but should hopefully be good to go for the game against Cork. As he is something of an unknown quantity in the league a lot of people are keen to see as to how he will settle in. He enjoyed a productive pre-season and is already popular amongst the Rovers faithful.
You will be able to keep track of his progress through this blog and I hope to have an interview with him in the next few weeks.
While I do think Dundalk will win the league, I am confident of a top three finish for Rovers which would qualify the club for Europe but then I do tend to always look through red tinted glasses when it comes to them! My season begins on Friday night as I will be on update duty for Ocean FM at the First Division game between Shelbourne and Finn Harps. Harps are from Donegal so are another North West based side.
As is traditional with articles like this I am going to give my predictions for not only the SSE Airtricity League but also how the Estonian season will go and come the end of the season we can see how far off I was!
SSE Airtricity League:
Premier Division – Dundalk F.C.
First Division – Shelbourne F.C.
FAI Cup – Sligo Rovers
EA Sports Cup – Shamrock Rovers
Setanta Sports Cup – Shamrock Rovers
A. Le Coq Premium Liiga – Levadia
Esiliiga - Tartu FC Santos
Estonian Cup – Nõmme Kalju
Here are the first round of fixtures for the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division (all times in Estonian timezone):
Fri. 6 March Dundalk v Longford Town, Oriel Park 9.45 pm
Fri. 6 March Galway United v Derry City, Eamonn Deacy Park 9.45 pm
Fri. 6 March Shamrock Rovers v St. Patrick’s Athletic, Tallaght Stadium 10.00 pm
Sat. 7 March Bray Wanderers v Drogheda United, Carlisle Grounds 7.45 pm
Sat. 7 March Limerick v Bohemians, Jackman Park 9.00 pm
Sat. 7 March Sligo Rovers v Cork City, The Showgrounds 9.45 pm
Until next week,