Lots to whet the appetite in this year’s Airtricity League

Airtricity Trophies by Michael Mackey
Airtricity Trophies by Michael Mackey

The 2015 SSE Airtricity League kicked off with a launch at the Aviva Stadium on Friday. Players and managers from all 20 clubs attended the event. FAI Director of Competitions Fran Gavin opened proceedings by praising the teams for their hard work during the offseason.

‘There has been a huge amount of energy and passion going into pre-season preparations all over the country and I want to compliment the clubs for the hard work being done,’ Gavin said.

Airtricity Trophies by Michael Mackey
Airtricity Trophies by Michael Mackey

Also speaking at the event were Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny and Liam Buckley of St Pats ahead of their President’s Cup clash. Both emphasised the importance of the president’s cup and Stephen talked about President Michael D. Higgins’ interest in the league.

‘He’s a Galway United supporter but I saw him at Bohemians and Bray in Dalymount earlier in the year. It wasn’t a high profile game, it wasn’t on the television, he just wanted to go and see the game.’

The President’s interest in the game can only help boost the leagues profile. This is only the second year that the Presidents cup has been played, and it promises to be a close affair between two of the premier leagues big guns, Dundalk and St. Pats.

When asked who he thought were the biggest threat in the Premier division, Liam Buckley said: ‘With respect to all the teams, Sligo will be there or there about, Cork will be, Dundalk will be, Shamrock Rovers will be, and I’d like to think we will be. Most of those clubs have bigger resources and all those managers would be looking for a top three spot.”

In division one, Cabinteely FC under the management of Eddie Gormley are the leagues newest addition moving up from the Leinster Football League. With the help of Blackrock Rugby Club, Cabinteely FC will now play their games at the Stradbrook ground. Blackrock members voted to change their rules in relation to the use of Stradbrook some 18 months ago ahead of a proposed deal with Cuala GAA Club. This deal broke down and Blackrock entered into a deal with Cabinteely FC. Blackrock have been struggling to attract crowds of late and needed to broker a deal. As of yet there has been no value put on this arrangement.

At the launch was one of Cabinteely’s young hopefuls, Robert Maloney. The defender moved from Bray Wanderers when his contract was up at the end of last season. Robert was upbeat about the debutant team’s chances.

‘It’s great for Cabinteely to be in there competing…preseason training has been good and we’re very confident of doing well,’ he said.

Cabinteely kick off their campaign against Wexford Youths. One of the big guns Cabinteely will now face in division one are Shelbourne FC.

Greystones v Shelbourne by Maurice Frazer / Flickr
Greystones v Shelbourne by Maurice Frazer / Flickr

Midfielder Darragh Doyle  joined Shelbourne after leaving Drogheda UTD last season, and he gave his opinion on his sides chances in division one and the arrival of new boys Cabinteely.

‘Shels is a massive club; it belongs in the premier league. We have to go out with the aim every week to win games. We want to be the most dominant club in the division.

‘It’s interesting to see Cabinteely coming into the league, they’ve a really good set up at school boy level,” said Doyle.

Liam Miller is also back in the Airtricity Premier Division at Cork City. The signing of the former Irish international who has been capped 21 times is an indication of the increasing strength of the Airtricity League. The scene is set for some great battles over both divisions in this exciting new season.

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