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Stephen Kenny's Dundalk are team to beat in Premier title race

One man who has been impressive during pre-season has been Patrick McEleney; signed from Derry City, the talented Dundalk midfielder has scored a few goals and seems to have settled in nicely with his new team-mate.

Seamus Crudden

Once again Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk will be the side League of Ireland soccer teams have to try and catch as they aim to win the Premier Division title for a third consecutive year as the 2016/17 season kicks off on Friday night.

The champions completed the domestic double last season and although they have lost last year’s talisman in Richie Towell, who scored an impressive 29 goals last term, to Championship side Brighton; they have found a few replacements.

One man who has been impressive during pre-season has been Patrick McEleney; signed from Derry City, the talented midfielder has scored a few goals and seems to have settled in nicely with his new team-mates.

Apart from McEleney, the Lilywhites have strength and depth in virtually all departments with the likes of Stephen O’Donnell, Dane Massey, Brian Gartland, Ronan Finn and Daryl Horgan all remaining at Oriel Park.


As for the chasing pack, Cork City will be trying to finally over take Dundalk, as they have finished second for the past two years and also lost last year’s FAI Cup final at the Aviva Stadium.

John Caulfield has added well during the close season with the likes of Greg Bolger, Kenny Browne, Stephen Dooley and Sean Maguire.

Shamrock Rovers will be hoping they can improve in what was a disappointing campaign for Pat Fenlon’s side have strengthened in midfield and up front with the likes of Killian Brennan, Gary Shaw and Dean Clarke all joining.

Fellow Dubliners St Patrick’s Athletic, who like Rovers had a disappointing 2015 campaign by their usual high standards, however striker Christy Fagan was a big reason why they didn’t hit top form as he missed most of last season through injury.

The Inichcore men have added the likes of Billy and Darren Dennehy from Cork City, Mark Timlin joined from Derry City and duo Dinny Corcoran and David Cawley came from Sligo Rovers.

As for the rest Bohemians would love to have another good campaign as they narrowly missed out on a European spot last year; Bray Wanderers could be the surprise package this year.

The Seagulls, who over recent seasons have had a lot of problems off the pitch, have added a lot of experienced players with the likes of Conor Kenna, Ryan Brennan, Alan Byrne, Robbie Creevy and Mick Daly all making the move to the Carlisle Grounds.

I feel that Galway United, Longford Town, Sligo and last season’s champions Wexford Youths will all probably finish in the bottom half of the table.

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