Derry City: First league derby against Finn Harps in six seasons to kick off campaign

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography -  October  22nd 2010.'Airtricity League First Division. Derry City V Finn Harps. Derry's James McClean and Finn Harps Stephen McLaughlin. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty Photography

�/Lorcan Doherty Photography - October 22nd 2010.'Airtricity League First Division. Derry City V Finn Harps. Derry's James McClean and Finn Harps Stephen McLaughlin. Mandatory Credit Lorcan Doherty Photography

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Kenny Shiels’ new look Candsytriped charges will kick off their 2016 League campaign with an appetising derby clash with newly-promoted Finn Harps in Ballybofey on March 4.

It will be the first league clash between the two sides since they met in the First Division campaign of 2010 when Derry City were promoted as Champions.

That match featured City and Harps exports James McClean and Stephen McLaughlin respectively.

The sides haven’t met in the League in the Premier Division since Finn Harps’ relegation in 2008.

Expect sheep and dog references.

The first home match, officially scheduled by the League for the Brandywell, will feature the visit of Cork City on March 11.

It’s then away to Bray, home to Galway, away to Wexford, then Dundalk, before home to Shamrock Rovers, away to Longford, home to Bohs, then Sligo, away to St Pat’s, before the first home derby against Harps in the league in six years.

The 2016 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division Fixture List has been newly released by the FAI and the opening series of matches on Friday, March 4, and Saturday, March 5, will feature several attractive match-ups and a first ever top flight match at Ferrycarrig Park.

Champions Dundalk will begin the search for three-in-row on Saturday, March 5, away to Bray Wanderers while Cork City, who were runners-up to Dundalk in both the League and Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup last season, start their campaign at home to Bohemians.

The first series of matches will feature a North West derby on March 4 at Finn Park when promoted Finn Harps face neighbours Derry City, now under the management of Kenny Shiels. Last season’s First Division champions, Wexford Youths, make their Premier Division debut the same night at home to the 2014 First Division winners Longford Town.

St Patrick’s Athletic, who won the EA SPORTS Cup last season, have a home game against the team they beat in that final, Galway United, on March 4 while the following day there is a battle of the Rovers at The Showgrounds as Sligo Rovers, with Dave Robertson now at the helm, meet Shamrock Rovers who finished third in 2015.

The first round of the EA Sports Cup will take place on March 21 and 22 with the second round on April 18 and 19 and the Quarter-Finals on May 2. The semi-finals are scheduled for August 1 and the final is on Saturday, September 17.

The second round of the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup, when the 20 SSE Airtricity League clubs enter the competition, is scheduled for the weekend of May 22 with the third round on the weekend of August 21 and the quarter-finals on the weekend of September 11. The semi-finals will take place on the weekend of October 2 and the final is at the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, November 6.

The mid-season break will take place from Monday, June 6 until Thursday, June 23 inclusive. The Premier Division season will conclude on Friday, October 28.

The Premier Division fixtures, which were issued today, are subject to change depending on the outcome of the FAI Club Licensing process. The fixtures for the 2016 SSE Airtricity League First Division will be issued in the New Year.

The first leg of the First Division Play-Offs will take place on either October 21 or 22 with the second leg on Friday, October 28. The promotion-relegation play-off final will take place the following week with the first leg on Monday, October 31 and the second leg on Friday, November 4 or Wednesday, November 9 if one of the teams involved qualifies for the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup Final.

The opening series of matches on Friday, March 4 and Saturday, March 5, are as follows: SSE Airtricity League 2016

Premier Division Series 1

Friday, March 4

Cork City v Bohemians, Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm.

St. Patrick’s Athletic v Galway United, Richmond Park, 7.45pm.

Finn Harps v Derry City, Finn Park, 8pm.

Wexford Youths v Longford Town, Ferrycarrig Park, 8pm.

Saturday, March 5

Bray Wanderers v Dundalk, Carlisle Grounds, 7.30pm.

Sligo Rovers v Shamrock Rovers, The Showgrounds, 7.4pm.

To view the complete SSE Airtricity League 2016 Premier Division fixture list please click here.