Champions Dundalk have been handed a bye in the First Round of this season’s EA Sports Cup.

The draw for the first round took place today at FAI Headquarters, where the first two rounds will be run on a regional basis with four pools of six teams. Two teams from each pool will advance to the quarter-finals where there will be an open draw. 

The 24 teams in the 2015 competition are the 20 SSE Airtricity League clubs, Ulster Senior League champions, Cockhill Celtic, Leinster Senior League champions, Crumlin United, Munster Senior League champions, University College Cork and Mayo Football League.

Under the competition rules clubs who have qualified for European competition (2015/16) and Setanta Sports Cup (2015) are exempt until the second round so Cork City, Dundalk, St Patrick’s Athletic and Shamrock Rovers all received byes in the first round.

The draw featured two clubs who have never previously played in the competition. League newcomers Cabinteely were drawn away to neighbours UCD, while UCC face a trip to Wexford Youths.

First Round matches will take place on Monday, 9 March with the final scheduled for Saturday, 19 September.

The EA SPORTS Cup 2015 First Round draw is as follows:

Pool 1 - Wexford Youths v UCC, Cobh Ramblers v Limerick. Byes: Cork City, Waterford United.

Pool 2 – Mayo League v Sligo Rovers, Galway United v Finn Harps. Byes: Derry City, Cockhill Celtic.

Pool 3 – Crumlin United v Bray Wanderers, Drogheda United v Shelbourne. Byes: Dundalk, St Patrick’s Athletic.

Pool 4 – UCD v Cabinteely, Bohemians v Athlone Town. Byes: Shamrock Rovers, Longford Town.