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And we are up and running as the new 2019 SSE Airtricity League season got underway at the weekend with the President’s Cup taking place. In what seems to be becoming an annual fixture Dundalk once again took on Cork City. Ahead of the game Dundalk, who have been in the market to sign a midfielder to replace the now-retired Stephen O’Donnell, signed Sean Murray. The former Republic of Ireland U-21 international despite being only 25 brings with him a wealth of experience having played in the Championship, League One and the Danish Super League. His former clubs included Watford, Wigan Athletic, Swindon, Colchester and most recently, Vejle Boldklub.

Cork pulled off a big signing of their own as they have brought back their former player Kevin O’Connor on loan from Preston North End. O’Connor who can play in defence or midfield had an instant impact albeit not a winning one. He scored for Cork but they were beaten 2-1 by Dundalk in Turner’s Cross. Dane Massey and Patrick Hoban with the goals for the Lillywhites. Both goals were created by Michael Duffy. Dundalk had been beaten the last three years in a row but have claimed their first President’s Cup since 2015, giving their new manager John Gill (but really Vinny Perth) his first piece of silverware. I have to say that personally, I was a bit disappointed by the lack of fanfare surrounding the game. It wasn’t live on television nor was it streamed online either.

Sligo Rovers have confirmed the signing of versatile defender Lewis Banks. His previous club Stafford Rangers jumped the gun on Rovers by announcing the signing last weekend but he is a welcome addition. Before his stint with Stafford, he had been on the books of Stoke City and previously captained their U-21 side. They also brought in attacking player Daryl Fordyce. He previously played with Linfield and Glentoran and was most recently with FC Edmonton and FC Cincinnati. Staying in the North West of Ireland and Derry City have signed striker Eoghan Stokes. He had been with Bohemian FC last season who had brought him in from Leeds United. He had been on trial with a couple of clubs in England over the off-season but has opted to return to the League of Ireland.

Longford Town made another impressive signing as they brought in experienced defender Conor Kenna. He is a former league winner from his time with St. Patrick’s Athletic and was most recently with Bray Wanderers. In a move that nearly went under the radar, Shamrock Rovers midfielder Aaron Bolger has gone on loan to Premier League side Cardiff City until the end of the season. The 19-year-old who is seen as one of the brightest prospects in the league had been attracting interest from a number of clubs. All going well, the move should be made permanent in the Summer.