After much conjecture and speculation the format for the 2018 SSE Airtricity League season was revealed last week and as expected there will be a promotion/relegation play-off. There will be 36 games for each club in the Premier and 27 for each in the First. There is one automatic relegation and promotion place and after that the teams that finish 3rd and 4th in the First will play-off to decide who plays the division’s runner-up. The winner of that game will play the side that come 9th in the Premier. All of those play-off games will be two-legged affairs. The season will kick off early as well with the Premier Division starting on Friday February 16th and the First Division starting a week later on Friday February 23rd. The President’s Cup which is the league’s equivalent of the Charity Shield will be on Sunday February 11th and will for the fourth year in a row be between Cork City and Dundalk. The last two games were played in Turner’s Cross but this year it will be in Oriel Park where Dundalk will be hoping to capitalise on their home advantage seeing as they lost the previous two games down by the Leeside. The full fixture list for next season will be released on Tuesday 19th.
Dundalk have added some much-needed firepower to their ranks with the signing of striker Ronan Murray from Galway United. Murray, who had previously been with Ipswich Town and Notts County, scored 17 goals in 38 games for United last season as they battled relegation. They also announced that midfielder Robbie Benson had signed a new deal with uncertainty still surrounding the duo of Patrick McEleney and Dave McMillan who are both looking to try and gets deals in the UK. No new signings for Cork last week but they did announce that Steven Beattie, who can play anywhere on the right, had extended his contract. Sligo Rovers announced that Daniel Kearns, Omar Haughton and Chris Kenny had left the club after being told they wouldn’t be offered contracts for next season. Kearns was quickly snapped up by Limerick F.C. He gave an interesting interview to the official club website where he said that he wanted to enjoy his football again and enjoy playing the game as he looked to rediscover the form that had seen him have spells with Reading and Peterborough. Interesting comments if you are a Sligo Rovers supporter seeing as he was the club’s highest paid player for the year and a half that he was at the Showgrounds. The other big news on the player movement front came in the First Division where Longford Town’s all-time leading goal-scorer Davy O’Sullivan announced that he was leaving the club. O’Sullivan had scored 82 goals in five seasons with the club but works in Dublin with Volkswagen Financial Services and as such needed to move back to the capital. He has signed with another First Division side Shelbourne F.C.