2021 First Division Preview – The Opposition (Part 2)

Part 2 – Galway, Shelbourne, Treaty United, UCD & Wexford

Galway United

Galway’s transformation following John Caulfield’s mid-season arrival last year was highly evident, and few see them competing anywhere but the top end of the table in 2021. With a full pre-season to make his mark on the squad, Caulfield has added a number of shrewd signings to Eamonn Deacy Park.

Ramblers fans will of course be familiar with David Hurley, now operating in the Galway midfield. He joins the likes of Conor McCormack, Gary Boylan and Ronan Manning as impressive arrivals at the club. Mikie Rowe and Padraic Cunningham are two impressive strikers back playing in the league after a spell away and the Connacht club have a well-balanced squad for the new campaign. Former Ramblers man Stephen Christopher is now well established out West and continues to impress in the League of Ireland.

2020 saw Cobh stay unbeaten in our meetings with the Tribesmen, and a repeat of that this year will be the hope for the Rams.

Shelbourne

2019 First Division champions Shelbourne are back in the league this year, with that season’s title winning manager Ian Morris still at the helm. Similarly to Galway, the Tolka Park side have been clever with their recruitment, adding a blend of talented youth and league experience.

Goalkeeper Brendan Clarke, defenders Ally Gilchrist and Kevin O’Connor and midfielder JJ Lunney all know the league inside out and their arrivals will undoubtedly add to the Shels squad. Yoyo Mahdy is a proven goalscorer at this level and his signing from UCD was a real capture. The likes of former Ram Denzil Fernandes and ex-UCD man Sean Quinn continue to impress at the club and Shels fans will hope that ensures a quick return to the Premier Division.

Treaty United

One of the most positive League of Ireland stories in the off-season was the news that a Limerick outfit would be returning to the league. Treaty United will represent the Midwest in 2021, playing out of Markets Field under the guidance of experienced former Limerick boss Tommy Barrett.

With such a short timeframe to prepare a squad, it was reminiscent of the frantic excitement of our own return to League football in 2013. A healthy mix of experienced league professionals and junior talent has many thinking that Treaty won’t just be there to make up the numbers in their debut season.

Numerous former Rams make up the Treaty squad. Defenders Charlie Fleming and Anthony O’Donnell spent a number of seasons at St Colman’s Park, while Adam Foley, Jack Lynch and Shane Lowth are others to have worn the claret and blue. Joel Coulstrain, Tadgh Ryan and Marc Ludden bring plenty of LOI experience to the Markets Field outfit and the return of this Munster Derby will be an anticipated one in 2021.

UCD

The Students finished an impressive 3rd in 2020, helped by the scoring exploits of forward duo Yoyo Mahdy and Colm Whelan. Mahdy has left for Shelbourne but Whelan remains and the former Waterford man is showing no signs of stopping.

UCD did the double over Cobh last year, with former Sligo pair Jack Keaney and Liam Kerrigan standing out in particular. They have a relatively settled squad this season with little student turnover. Re-enforcements have arrived at Belfield in the form of Finn Harps’ Sam Todd and Athlone’s Adam Lennon, and the Dubliners look strong once more for 2021 in spite of their young squad. It’s never easy against UCD and that will be the case as ever this campaign.

Wexford

Finishing in 9th place last year, Wexford will be keen on improving on that for the new season. Some notable signings will aid this ambition, in what is a very strong division overall this year.

Former Irish underage goalkeeper Jimmy Corcoran arrived from Dundalk and was certainly a coup for the South East side. Shelbourne’s Alex O’Hanlon has signed on loan and looks another impressive addition for the club.  Midfielder Jack Doherty always adds a spark to any game he features in, while former Cabinteely man Jack Connolly is another to keep an eye on.

With the 2021 season fast approaching, pick up your season ticket today which will include free LOI TV streaming access to all games and priority access to games when Covid restrictions allow. Season tickets are available to purchase here!

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