There was no action over the weekend in the SSE Airtricity League with the mid-season break in effect. There were still plenty of talking points though, starting with the draws for the qualifying rounds for the Champions League and the Europa League taking.
Champions and current league leaders Dundalk have been drawn against Latvian side Riga FC. Should they progress they will face either FK Partizani of Albania or Qarabag of Azerbaijan in the second qualifying round. If they are beaten they will parachute into the qualifiers for the Europa League where they will face either BATE Borisov of Belarus or Polish champions Piast Gliwice.
They prepared for what will be a busy month in July with a week-long training camp in Spain. They will be leaving no stones unturned in their preparation for the game as their management team will be flying to Latvia this week to watch Riga in league action.
Last season’s runners-up Cork City will face either Progrès Niederkorn from Luxembourg or Welsh side Cardiff Metropolitan University in the first qualifying round of the Europa League. They could potentially face Steven Gerrard’s Rangers in the second round. Rangers first though would need to see off the winner of the tie between St. Joseph’s from Gibraltar and Prishtina of Kosovo.
There is still no word on a new manager for Cork yet following on from the dismissal of John Caulfield. The exemption period for caretaker boss John Cotter will run out soon. Shamrock Rovers have been drawn against Norwegian side SK Brann. Also drawn against Scandinavian opposition are St. Patrick’s Athletic, as they will take on Swedish side IFK Norrkoping.
Following on from the shock departure of their manager Stephen Henderson last week, Cobh Ramblers have announced that former assistant manager Stuart Ashton will be their interim manager while they search for a permanent successor. With the transfer window due to open soon there is a lot of speculation about potential upcoming moves.
One player who has already moved is Athlone Town’s Kaleem Simon, who has signed for Warrenpoint in the NIFL Premiership.
The other big news from the week was that there is a group who have plans in place for an All-Island league that would involve clubs from both sides of the border. They are going to brief the clubs in both leagues and also the FAI. The news has received a cautious response as ideas like this have been muted before.