The second round of the shortened FAI Cup begins tonight, with eight ties played over the next four days, before the competition takes a 10-week hiatus.

There are many different aspects to this year's tournament.

Non-league teams have not featured this year, 13 sides received a bye to this last-16 stage and the prize money from the quarter-finals onwards will be pooled in order to fund clubs to play into late November.

Players are not just lining out to try to secure a cup winner’s medal, but advancing to the quarters will ensure that many of them who will be out of contract on 30 October will receive an additional two weeks’ wages to keep them at their clubs to play in the quarter-finals on 13 November, and potentially one or two more if reaching the semi-final or final.

That scenario sums up the precarious nature of being a football player here, where the glory of reaching the final may not even be the best part of victory.

There are eight First Division sides in the second round, six of which received home draws when pulled out of the hat by Republic of Ireland manager Stephen Kenny.

WATCHLOI will broadcast six matches, a record amount of games being made available to watch for the competition in a single round.

Friday 28 August

Galway United v Shelbourne, Eammon Deacy Park, 7.45pm, live on WATCHLOI

John Caulfield will take charge of Galway United for the first time.

The Tribesmen are without a win in the league and could even struggle to make the end of season play-offs. Caulfield led Cork to two FAI Cup victories. Anything here will be considered a bonus.

Shels were resolute in holding Shamrock Rovers to a 0-0 draw last Friday. Their focus is also on league matters, as with each week the Premier Division is tightening up, and victory for Finn Harps last week means they are just four above the bottom of the league. The Cup may represent a better chance of an unlikely European place. Anything is possible in this strange season.

Athlone Town v Wexford, Athlone Town Stadium, 7.45pm

There will be at least one First Division side in the quarter-finals after these sides were paired together. Wexford got the better of the visitors in their last meeting in the venue on the first day of the resumed season. Their last two performances have been poor, shipping nine goals to Drogheda United, Cobh Ramblers and Shamrock Rovers II.

Athlone have disappointed with two points from a possible 24 as they sit bottom of the division. A win would be a boost to both teams in terms of finances.

Saturday 29 August

Drogheda United v Derry City, United Park, 5pm, live on WATCHLOI

Derry City have to recover from what Declan Devine described as a "wasted opportunity" when they begin their FAI Cup campaign on Saturday.

City lost to Riteriai on Tuesday in the Europa League. The tie was one they could and arguably should have won.

Devine will know an upset here could derail their season.

It’s going to be a difficult game for the visitors. Drogheda are closing in on Cabinteely at the top of the First Division and are favourites for promotion. Since a defeat to Longford Town, they have been formidable at United Park. A potential upset could be on the cards, with Devine likely to make changes to freshen up his side after playing 120 minutes in Vilnius.

Bray Wanderers v Finn Harps, Carlisle Grounds, 7:45pm

Finn Harps shocked St Patrick’s Athletic in one of three first-round games.

Ollie Horgan told RTÉ Sport after that victory that his side have little chance of winning the FAI Cup and he wished it had been a league game as victories don’t come along very often.

That latter point is true, but one arrived against last Sunday versus Waterford in the league. It is not an exaggeration to say Horgan has eyes on league matters. Bray could be a potential play-off opponent if the Donegal outfit do find themselves in that position come November.

Gary Cronin’s side have been hugely inconsistent but are pitching in for the automatic promotion position still. A victory over a Premier Division outfit could be the perfect confidence booster for the rest of the campaign.

Sunday 30 August

Cobh Ramblers v Dundalk, St Colman’s Park, 5pm, live on WATCHLOI

When this draw was made, the headline was it was a repeat of what has become a regular pairing. Cobh shocked Dundalk in an EA Sports Cup semi-final in 2018. Last year the Lilywhites bounced back a defeat in Europe by eeking out a 1-0 success in the Cork venue.

Nobody could have predicted what this game would transpire to be the debut for an Italian management duo in their first ever senior roles.

Filippo Giovagnoli will make his first trip to St Colman’s Park following an impressive first press conference where he was anything but a rambler. However the true test is how his team performs. This is one of the easier games ahead of nine league clashes.

Cobh are very much in the mix after two fantastic display against Longford Town and Wexford. They will be licking their lips at the chance at one more big result against the champions.

UCD v Sligo Rovers, UCD Bowl, 7.45pm, live on WATCHLOI

Sligo Rovers have not given their supporters much to cheer about in the last six years. Last year Liam Buckley led them to a semi-final in front of a sold out Showgrounds crowd against Dundalk, only to be undone in the final minute by a Michael Duffy goal.

This season they sit fourth in the table at the halfway point following a resurgence in the second part of this disrupted season. The Bit O' Red will be well aware their position is still only five points ahead of basement side Cork City. The Cup still represents their best chance of European football heading west in 2021.

The Students are, as they tend to do, improving all the time with a new cycle of players. Jack Keaney and Liam Kerrigan moved from the Bit O’ Red last summer and are their key men.

Yoyo Mahdy’s brace helped them to a 3-0 success over First Division Cabinteely last time out. They are another side in contention for a move up a tier. This game represents a chance of taking a big scalp and add to the reputations to some more outstanding talent in Belfield.

There are two more FAI Cup games on Monday involving teams who played in Europe last night.

Shamrock Rovers host Cork City at 5.45pm and Bohemians take on Cabinteely on 7.45pm. Previews will follow on Monday morning. 

Friday 28 August

  • Galway United v Shelbourne, Eammon Deacy Park, 7:45pm, live on WATCHLOI
  • Athlone Town v Wexford, Athlone Town Stadium, 7:45pm

Saturday 29 August

  • Drogheda United v Derry City, United Park, 5pm, live on WATCHLOI
  • Bray Wanderers v Finn Harps, Carlisle Grounds, 7:45pm

Sunday 30 August

  • Cobh Ramblers v Dundalk, St Colman's Park, 5pm, live on WATCHLOI
  • UCD v Sligo Rovers, UCD Bowl, 7:45pm, live on WATCHLOI

Monday 31 August

  • Shamrock Rovers v Cork City, Tallaght Stadium, 5:45pm, live on WATCHLOI
  • Bohemians v Cabinteely, Dalymount Park, 7:45pm, live on WATCHLOI