CORK City and Cobh Ramblers are both gunning for First Division glory and promotion to the top flight this season.
The clubs collide on the opening night of the season this Friday but we want you to vote for which team will have the more successful campaign. This poll is open until 8am on Friday morning.
Here our writers analyse the two teams...
IT would be understandable to a certain degree if Cork City fans were not holding out too much hope for the upcoming SSE Airtricity League First Division campaign.
Last year’s relegation, coupled with the ongoing situation regarding a potential change of ownership — not to mention the fact that supporters can’t attend games — could lead to a lack of optimism among the Rebel Army faithful.
However, the lowered expectations should be a help to Colin Healy as he tries to plot a way back to the top flight.
Shelbourne are strong favourites to top the first division, followed by Galway United and Bray Wanderers in the betting order, with City and UCD next at 9/1.
Having finished second in the Premier Division as recently as 2018, it’s quite the drop, but to compare is to despair and Healy knows that there is no point dwelling on the past.
Bar Jake O’Brien, he has been able to secure the services of those from last season that he wanted to, while the return of Steven Beattie has been a real coup.
Jack Baxter, on loan from Preston North End, has looked very strong in midfield in pre-season, while centre-back George Heaven has also shown promising signs with his imposing presence.
Healy has acknowledged that the squad will take time to gel, but he has proclaimed himself happy with the attitude shown and, all going well, that should result in improvement as the campaign goes on.
While first place and the automatic promotion spot that comes with it may prove to be beyond City, they should be good enough for one of the play-off spots contested by the teams from second place to fifth.
By the end of the season, City are likely to be a better team than at the start of it and that could and should put them in the mix.
IF Cobh Ramblers can start this season in a similar manner to how they finished in 2020, there is no reason why this very well-drilled side under Stuart Ashton cannot aspire to a promotion play-off push.
Ramblers ended the last term strongly, including winning four games in succession to bring them on the brink of the play-offs, only to agonisingly miss out on the final night of the campaign.
Cobh, backboned by the likes of Charlie Lyons and goalkeeper Sean Barron, had one of the best defensive records in the division last term.
Only First Division champions Drogheda United (17), second-placed Bray Wanderers (13) and Galway United (19) conceded less than Cobh (20) in 2020.
What is encouraging heading into 2021 is that Cobh have the know-how and have proven they can be up for the dogfight of the First Division.
Ramblers are a well-drilled outfit under Ashton and make it tough for opposing sides with their work-rate and determination.
There are solid foundations to build on from last season and Ramblers look to have recruited well to their squad for 2021.
They have built a squad this term with a good mix of experienced campaigners and youthful potential.
Cobh will know what is required to get into the promotion chase and that experience will be vital in an ultra-competitive First Division in 2021.
They will go under the radar, but Cobh Ramblers will be quietly confident they can upset the odds once more during the forthcoming campaign ahead.