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Quigley on Monday – Longford lead the way in the League of Ireland

 

Longford lead the way after the opening day’s fixtures in the Premier Division, thanks to a 2-0 home victory over Derry. That puts them ahead of Finn Harps and Drogheda on goal difference [Harps and Waterford both had 1-0 home wins, the former over Bohemians and the latter over Waterford]. The weekends other ties – between Sligo and Dundalk, and Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic – ended in 1-1 draws.

Leading the way on opening day ultimately means nothing, but somebody has to. The fact that the two sides promoted from the 2020 First Division are up there is a sign though that these clubs will be hoping for more than survival as the campaign progresses.

Back in the day tables would never be produced after just a single game. Nowadays they are even produced before a ball is kicked, so technically Longford have taken over top spot from Bohemians! I vividly remember the 1974-75 season in England [the season where Manchester United played in the second tier] where an unlikely side sat on top of the entire pyramid when the table first appeared after three games – Carlisle United [they finished the season bottom and were relegated].

The tables change a lot in the early days of the campaign, as clubs jockey for position before a front-runner emerges. Let’s see how much movement there is after this week’s series of games. Longford, Harps and Drogheda will all be away [against Bohemians, Dundalk and St Patrick’s Athletic] while Waterford entertain Sligo and Derry host Shamrock Rovers.

The First Division will be kicking off this week. My club Bray Wanderers will be hosting Treaty United for the latter’s first-ever game on the national stage. Cobh Rambler host Cork in the first Cork derby of the campaign, while relegated Shelbourne travel west to Galway. Elsewhere Cabinteely travel to Wexford and Athlone to UCD. Who will top the table after round one here [as things stand after zero games, Athlone sit on top of the pile!].

Congratulations to Wanderers’ Brian Maher, who has made the Republic of Ireland U21 squad for next week’s friendly against Wales. It certainly was a good week for goalkeepers of teams I support; there was Brian making the U21’s, Gavin Bazunu [who is on loan at my English club, Rochdale] making the full Ireland squad for the upcoming games and Robert Sanchez [who was Rochdale’s goalkeeper last term, on loan from Brighton] making the Spain squad for the first time.

Brian Quigley

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