Dublin derby to kick off new term
There's an early start to the 2018 League of Ireland season, kicking off a week earlier than last year. And a blistering one too as the new campaign kicks off with a Bohemians-Shamrock Rovers derby and a trip to Inchicore for newly-crowned champions Cork City.
The fixture list for the 2018 campaigns in the Premier and First Divisions was issued by the FAI yesterday, and the highlight of that opening weekend on February 16 is a Dalymount Park meeting of Bohs and Rovers.
There were glitches on the day as part of the fixture list was leaked, by the league's own official website, an hour ahead of the planned released and a press release managed to mix up two football figures, with a mention of "Pat Fenlon's Cabinteely" (Fenlon is with Waterford, Pat Devlin is at Cabinteely).
Bray Wanderers fans may feel like saying 'no' to the computer which came up with a fixture list that has them playing three away games in succession in the space of a week in May, in Cork, Derry and Dundalk.
Then again, there are many who doubt that Bray will be able to play in the top flight in 2018. The club have this week tried to reassure fans that a manager, and a plan for the new season will be place by the end of the week but with question marks still hanging over the club from last season, it's possible that Galway United, relegated at the end of last season, could yet replace Bray in the top flight.
First Division teams are in for a potentially long season, with five weeks between the end of the regular Division One season and the conclusion of the complex play-off process.
To the league's credit, the teams competing in Europe are accommodated, with July fixtures moved to May.