With the evenings staying brighter for just that little bit longer it can only mean one thing if you live in the Republic of Ireland, it means that the SSE Airtricity League is back. The 2019 season has kicked off and the opening few games have seen an increase in the fans going through the turnstiles from the same period as last season. We are now four games in and the Premier League is now starting to show a little bit of shape. Over the past couple of seasons the league has been dominated by Dundalk and Cork City and it is about time the other clubs stepped up and made things a lot tighter so as to make things more interesting. This season I expect the challenge for honours to come from Saint Patrick's Athletic under new manager Harry Kenny and two more clubs in the shape of Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians.
After four games it is Bohemians who sit proudly at the top of the Premier Division having won three of their opening games including a one nil win over Dublin rivals Shamrock Rovers in Dalymount Park. It is a great start for a team who love to play a passing style of football and so far it has returned great results for manager Keith Long. One big suprise has been the start of the season for Cork City who have managed to win only one game which they did by beating Sligo Rovers away two one. It is worrying times for manager John Caulfield and he must be asking himself where the goals are going to come from this season, because in the opening four games they have only managed to find the net twice. It could be a long season if the men f
men from close to the River Lee don't start to perform, because in the SSE Airtricity League if you start to fall behind a gap can develop and you do not always get the chance to close it. The Cork manager knows it is a long season and he has plenty of time to get it right but the lack of big investment over the past couple of months could come back and haunt him and the board.
The First Division has only played two games so far this season and any one of the top seven teams are in with a chance of getting automatic promotion. The favourites for the title are Shelbourne and they had a magnificent start last Friday week when they came from two nil down to beat Galway three two away from home. It was a superb result as going to Galway and getting a win is not always an easy thing to do. There was a lot of expectant fans in Tolka Park on Friday night last when Shelbourne played host to Cabinteely, a game that nine times out of ten the home side would have been expected to win, but the away side caused a major shock by winning three two. It was only game number two for Shelbourne and they need to learn from this huge wake up call. Bray Wanderers and Athlone Town sit on top of the table with six points but like the Premier Division there is a long way to go and this could be a very entertaining and exciting season and who will get the coveted promotion spots nobody knows, but I do feel Shelbourne will be there or thereabouts.
By David Meier