Ahead of Saturday’s season opener at home to Drogheda United, we preview the new campaign with a look at the nine sides Ramblers will be up against in the league for 2020!
Athlone Town – The Westmeath men have had it tough in recent times but times look to be
changing in Lissywoolen. Last season’s eighth place finish included home wins over
Shelbourne, Longford and Drogheda, while new manager Adrian Carberry has been busy in
the transfer market. Winger Joel Coulstrain spent the latter part of 2019 on loan at Cork City
and is a promising talent, while midfielder Harry Cornally was highly recommended at
Shamrock Rovers’ underage setup before suffering injury setback. Athlone are due a good
season after a spell in the doldrums and 2020 could be that year.
13/07/19 Ramblers 2 – 1 Athlone
03/05/19 Athlone 1 – 1 Ramblers
02/03/19 Ramblers 0 – 1 Athlone
Bray Wanderers – Finishing fifth in 2019 was somewhat of a disappointment for the Seagulls
and boss Gary Cronin has dipped into the transfer market in order to build on that. Cork
City’s Aaron Barry provides defensive capabilities, with striker Gary Shaw likely to impress at
the other end. In Paul Keegan the Wicklow side have one of the Division’s top midfielders
but the loss of last season’s loan star Dean Williams, as well as Cork-bound Dylan McGlade
will be noticed. A play-off push is a likely outcome for Wanderers, anything more would be a
16/08/19 Bray 3 – 3 Ramblers
31/05/19 Ramblers 1 – 0 Bray
29/03/19 Bray 1 – 0 Ramblers
Cabinteely: The South Dublin outfit are now part of the LOI furniture and capped off 2019
with a fourth place finish, the best in their history. Drogheda saw them off in the play-offs
and since then top scorer Rob Manley, goalkeeper Stephen McGuinness and midfielder Jack
Watson have left for pastures new. That spine will be difficult to replicate but in manager
Pat Devlin they have a boss who is well-used to the challenges of the league. Another play-
off run would be a great accomplishment for Cabo, time will tell if that is to be the case.
31/08/19 Ramblers 1 – 1 Cabinteely
08/06/19 Cabinteely 2 – 2 Ramblers
06/04/19 Ramblers 0 – 1 Cabinteely
Drogheda United – Undoubtedly a bogey side for Ramblers, the Division’s other claret and
blue side have won the last six meetings between the sides. Our last win against the Louth
men came in the second leg of the October 2016 play-off, which Drogheda won 3-2 over the
two legs. United are play-off regulars at this level and lost out 2-1 to Finn Harps in last
season’s promotion/relegation battle over two games. Tim Clancy has bolstered an already
strong squad, with Bray stalwart Hugh Douglas and Cabinteely’s Jack Tuite two notable
additions. The likes of Chris Lyons and Stephen Meaney mean that goals won’t be hard to
come by and expect to see Drogheda pushing for promotion once again this year.
05/07/19 Drogheda 4 – 2 Ramblers
27/04/19 Ramblers 1 – 4 United
22/02/19 Drogheda 4 – 0 Ramblers
Galway United – On paper the men out West have a very accomplished squad this season.
Shane Duggan, Micheál Shlingerman and Enda Curran bring vast experience while former
Rams Jack Lynch and Stephen Christopher remain onboard. Alan Murphy will be aiming well
above last year’s seventh place finish and it’s hard to see a repeat of that outcome for 2020.
Sam Warde, who spent some of pre-season on trial with Cobh, adds midfield flair while
Mikey Place is a young attacker primed for big things. This could be Galway’s year if their
quality of players deliver.
3/09/19 Galway 7 – 1 Ramblers
14/06/19 Ramblers 2 – 1 Galway
12/04/19 Galway 1 – 2 Ramblers
Longford Town – Another play-off stalwart, Longford lost out to Cabinteely in last season’s
edition, having finished third in the league. With Neale Fenn now at Cork City, Daire Doyle is
now the man at the helm in the Midlands. A pre-season win over Dundalk bodes well, as
does the retention of midfield talent Aodh Dervin. Rob Manley arrives from Cabinteely with
proven pedigree, finishing as the league’s top scorer in 2019. The retirement of veteran
defender Conor Kenna is a blow but the rest of the squad is relatively consistent and that
should help Longford to another promising season.
21/09/19 Ramblers 1 – 3 Longford
29/06/19 Longford 1 – 0 Ramblers
20/04/19 Ramblers 0 – 0 Longford
Shamrock Rovers II – Little is known as to the make-up of Rovers’ second side but given the
clear talent within the Tallaght club’s youth academy, they will be a young side well capable
of playing football. Many will likely have come across Ramblers at U17 and U19 level in
recent times but a lack of experience at this level will be evident. It’s difficult to know what
to expect from the Hoops and time will tell how they settle in the First Division.
UCD – Following 2018’s surprise First Division title, the Students returned to the second tier
in 2019, suffering relegation in October last. The transitional nature of their side has seen
the likes of Gary O’Neill, Liam Scales and Jason McLelland depart for full-time football in
recent months and the South Dublin outfit will begin the conveyor belt once more for 2020.
Waterford’s Colm Whelan is a young striker worth keeping tabs on while Yoyo Mahdy is
another attacker making strides. 2020 may come too soon for a bounce back to the Premier
but as always the College side will have no fear.
18/08/18 Ramblers 2 – 2 UCD
01/06/18 UCD 3 – 1 Ramblers
30/03/18 Ramblers 0 – 2 UCD
Wexford FC – The team on the other side of our biggest win last year, manager Brian
O’Sullivan has utilised his knowledge of the Leinster Senior League with numerous additions
from intermediate clubs across the province. UCD’s Dan Tobin and Cian Kavanagh were also
brought in and know the league well from their time at Belfield. The Ferrycarrig outfit will
be out to make their home ground a fortress this year and indications are they won’t be
here just to make up the numbers. An improvement on last season’s ninth place will be
20/07/19 Ramblers 1 – 1 Wexford
10/05/19 Wexford 2 – 2 Ramblers
09/03/19 Ramblers 6 – 1 Wexford
The only thing for certain is that we have another exciting First Division campaign in store!
By Thomas Stafford