Longford Town v Derry City, Bishopsgate, 6pm

Longford are back in the top flight having come through the play-offs last season under the canny management of Daire Doyle.

Survival would be a serious achievement for the midlanders. They're coming into an immensely competitive division with a tight budget but they're bullishly excited about proving the doubters wrong.

Derry, who had a disappointing campaign last year, are bolstered by the formidable attacking threat of David Parkhouse and exciting midfielder Joe Hodge, though the on-loan Manchester City teenager misses this clash due to a back injury.  

Team news

Longford Town: TBC

Derry City: Joe Hodge has returned to Manchester City for treatment. Bar that, Derry are at full strength.

What they said

Daire Doyle (Longford manager): "We've been completely written off and favourites to go down. We will use that to our advantage. There's no better time for us to show people what we are able to do and what we can do."

Declan Devine (Derry manager): "The opening game of the season, no matter who you play or where you play, it's always going to be a difficult game. We’ve been telling the players we can’t underestimate anybody in the league this year. We are a brand new, young squad who are trying to achieve something and looking to put a marker down."

Sligo Rovers v Dundalk, the Showgrounds, 6pm (Live on WatchLOI)

Sligo secured European football on the final day of last season with a 2-0 win at the Lilywhites.

Liam Buckley will be hoping to kick on this year. He has six new signings in the squad, as well as the returning Richard Brush and Romeo Parkes.

Dundalk meanwhile bounce into this off the back of their President's Cup triumph. Last year's FAI Cup winners have seen plenty of new faces coming in - and older faces heading out - over the last few months. They'll want to prove those changes are for the better.  

Team news

Sligo Rovers: A clean bill of health for the hosts. Ryan De Vries joined training from Wednesday following the end of his quarantine period.

Dundalk: Ole Erik Midtskogen, Brian Gartland, Daniel Kelly and Sean Murray all missing through. However Sonni Nattestad is available despite being sent off in the President's Cup.

What they said

Liam Buckley (Sligo manager): "People say Dundalk are transitioning but nearly every club in the league has made a lot of new signings. They've brought in a lot of proven quality as well as full internationals. It’s going to be a real battle and we have to be up for that because of the quality Dundalk have."

Pat Hoban (Dundalk striker): "I can never remember coming out of a game against Sligo, especially at the Showgrounds, thinking, 'that was easy'. I think they're better than last season." 

Finn Harps v Bohemians, Finn Park, 6pm

Finn Harps are back for another year thanks to a really dogged and spirited survival effort last term. Ollie Horgan's troops are never anything less than a tough nut to crack but they'll really hope they can avoid another dogfight near the bottom.

Keith Long enjoyed a terrific campaign at Dalymount in 2020. They have European football to look forward to and a few new faces they'll hope will hit the ground running. 

Team news

Finn Harps: Ollie Horgan has no major injury concerns.

Bohs: Stephen Mallon (metatarsal), Promise Omochere (knee) and Rory Feely (hamstring) are out. Conor Levingston (calf) and Bradley Rolt (hamstring) returned to training this week but aren't quite ready for this one.

What they said

Ollie Horgan: (Finn Harps manager): "They've recruited well in the likes of Georgie Kelly, Tyreke Wilson and a few others to add to the existing quality they had in the squad. They’ll come up here expecting to get off to a winning start and it’s up to us to make that as difficult as possible for them."

Rob Cornwall (Bohs defender): "Keith has brought in real quality again this season but with nine new signings, we all know we will need time to gel, especially after losing some good players too."