Football Tips: Alan Cawley’s 5 best bets for the League Of Ireland’s opening weekend

The League Of Ireland returns and our man Alan Cawley dissects the games across Friday and Saturday.



*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widget, while in-copy odds are accurate at the time of publication but subject to change


17:45 Drogheda v Waterford – Drogheda Utd

Obviously, it’s the opening weekend of the season but as I think both of these sides will struggle overall, this is a big game for both clubs. I think this is a good start for Drogheda to have a game like this at home so early and while they had a defeat in their last pre-season game, I think they’ll be ready for this. Waterford are the unknown package in the league this year and there’s a lot of uncertainty around them so I’m going for a home win for Drogheda to get their season off to a winning start here.

19:45 Shamrock Rovers v St Pats – Shamrock Rovers

This will be a cracker and a Dublin derby to start the live games for the season. Rovers are the favourites to win the league and they’re favourites to win this game and rightly so. They take on St Pats and there’s a little bit of pressure on Stephen O’Donnell this year, although he has brought in a few new faces like Paddy Barrett. St Pats did struggle for goals last year though and when the sides played in Tallaght last season, St Pats put up a good showing and picked up a draw but the league was already over at that stage.

I think Rovers will have too much for them on Friday and I can see them getting a narrow win, something like 2-1. Rovers looked good in the Presidents Cup last week and Rory Gaffney started up front then and looked dangerous. There’s Aaron Greene as well but I’m going to go for a bit of value to get the first goal in Graham Burke. He’s a very exciting player and a creative player and he’s a player who I think can step up a bit more this year with the loss of Jack Byrne. He takes all the set-pieces and I think he’s great value to get the first goal.


18:00 Finn Harps v Bohemians – Bohemians

It’s a tough one for Bohemians to go to Finn Harps on the opening weekend of the season but I fancy them here. They have had a good pre-season, they’ve signed very well and Keith Long is a brilliant manager. He’s been in the job for a few years now and he’ll have eyes on the title because he’s building to win a league title with this side. They’ll be looking to get off to a good start and I fancy Bohs to get an away win at Finn Harps here.

18:00 Longford Town v Derry City – Derry City (Nap)

As I said already, Longford fans won’t like me for saying this but I think they’ll be the whipping boys this season and I really fancy Derry to beat them on Saturday. Derry City are under a little bit of pressure, similarly to St Pats, and under Declan Devine, they’ll be looking to do better than they did last season. He’ll be looking to get off to a good start on Saturday and I think they will win against Longford Town. Derry City are my Naps of the opening weekend games.

18:00 Sligo Rovers v Dundalk – Draw

This is another huge game and at the Showgrounds on Saturday, this is a difficult start for Sligo Rovers. They have signed well during the off season and Dundalk look very strong as well so this should be a good game. Looking at Dundalk last week in the Presidents Cup, they looked anything but under-cooked like they may have been in previous seasons. I think this could end up a draw because with Sligo’s home form last season, there’s probably not much between them.

It’s a good game to start off with for Sligo Rovers, with Dundalk coming to town, and while the Lilywhites look ready to rock, I think Sligo will be capable of taking a couple of points off them here. I fancy the draw.

Cawley’s Call – Shamrock Rovers, Drogheda Utd & Derry City ALL To Win

My first Cawley’s Call of the season looks good and with my treble, I’m starting with the champions Shamrock Rovers. They should beat St Pats. I’m sweet on Drogheda to beat Waterford and I’ll finish with Derry City, who are my Naps of the weekend. They should have no trouble in beating Longford Town and I’m confident that this treble will click.

Alan Cawley’s tips summary:

17:45 Drogheda v Waterford:
Drogheda to win
19:45 Shamrock Rovers v St. Pats: Shamrock Rovers to win

18:00 Finn Harps v Bohemians: Bohemians to win
18:00 Longford Town v Derry City: Derry to win
18:00 Sligo Rovers v Dundalk: Draw

Read More:

The Paddy Power Guide To Responsible Gambling – Everything You Need To Know

The latest football odds are on now

What do you think?