The English Premier League runners-up take on Trevor Croly's Shamrock Rovers at the Aviva Stadium and it is an opportunity for the league's best players to show their worth
In their pre-match press conference, Shamrock Rovers striker Ciaran Kilduff and manager Trevor Croly both admitted that they were relishing the challenge of playing against the Premier League's elite when Liverpool visit the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday, May 14.
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Kilduff spoke of being focused on the upcoming SSE Airtricity Premier Division game with Athlone Town rather than the glamour friendly, but the tie will, nevertheless, be a great chance for the talented striker to show exactly what he can do against the club he has supported since childhood.
The 25-year-old is coming into his prime with Rovers, and has continued the goalscoring form he showed last season by netting five times in the first 12 games for the Hoops.
Kilduff is just one of many extremely talented players at Croly's disposal, and promising displays against the Reds will show that the League of Ireland can provide excellent entertainment on a regular basis to the many casual fans who bought tickets on the premise that they might catch a glimpse of Luis Suarez or Steven Gerrard.
Liverpool's bigger names will be rested due to international priorities with the World Cup on the horizon, but many of their future stars should face off against Shamrock Rovers. The Hoops have their own impressive youngster in 20-year-old full-back Luke Byrne, who has continued to flourish since moving from rivals Bohemians, and could catch the eye of visiting scouts.
COLLINS EXIT INEVITABLE
The writing had been on the wall for Derry City manager Roddy Collins for the past few weeks. The Candystripes stuttered in the league, racking up far too many draws, but even worse for the Brandywell faithful was the fact that Collins' interactions with the media painted the club and its players in a negative light.
Derry's fans were left bemused as Collins repeatedly left last season's top scorer Rory Patterson out of the squad, while admitting that he would not pay to watch his own team in action. Things came to a head after Friday's 1-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers, with Collins telling the Londonderry Sentinel in an expletive-laden interview that "this is a professional club, not a YMCA, and it has to be turned into one because it's built out of sand. I'm building solid foundations where it's not a YMCA and it's not about personalities, it's about playing well and winning."
With Collins forced out the door at the Brandywell, Derry can quickly get on a much-needed rebuilding process, possibly around local, homegrown talent, while the 52-year-old will have to utilise his bucket and spade elsewhere as he looks for a new club.
MLS NOT FAR AHEAD OF LOI
The past week has seen plenty of furore from various nations as the 32 teams for this summer's World Cup began announcing their preliminary squads. At the same time, Martin O'Neill sprung absolutely no surprises as he named an extended panel for the Republic of Ireland's four summer friendlies.
Ireland's squad is completely made up of players plying their trade in England or Scotland, while all but one World Cup squad contains at least one home-based player. Only Uruguay's panel does not contain a player from their domestic league, while Russia and England have just one non-domestic squad member each.
Jurgen Klinsmann announced a 30-man pool, with almost 50 per cent of their panel from Major League Soccer (MLS). MLS has much better facilities than the League of Ireland, but it could be argued that many Irish teams are at least on a par with their American counterparts.
Martin O'Neill easily could have used these games to have a look at the quality of some domestic players, including the previously-mentioned Kilduff, whose inclusion would tell him more than having another look at Conor Sammon or Simon Cox.
Summer trips to America are routinely remembered for a large number of pull-outs, and with many Premier League players likely to play in just the first two games, the time is opportune for O'Neill to call-up a League of Ireland player. He spoke of the talent in the SSE Airtricity League when he was appointed, but so far, it has been little more than lip service.