In a week that has seen Trevor Croly leave Shamrock Rovers, Dundalk extend their lead at the top of the table to six, and the relegation battle heat up once again, Conor Hayes discusses three conclusions from Gameweek 22 of the League of Ireland.
John Gill embarrassed himself with his tirade on Alan Cawley
In a soap opera worthy of the league across the Irish Sea, last Monday on Soccer Republic Alan Cawley commented on Shamrock Rovers dismal performance against Drogheda United by questioning the team’s identity under Trevor Corly. His then assistant, John Gill responded in an interview with a local magazine by calling the comments ‘disgusting’.
This would have been enough of a disproportionate response had Gill not continued “I could drag a few skeletons out of his closet, I’ve a few things I could say about Alan Cawley.” Which while delving into personal realms is also a pretty cowardly sentence to utter in any public interview.
With our game so widely ignored by the vast majority of the population some people who work at clubs seem to have the opinion that analysts should just be there as window dressing only to promote the domestic product. We all want the league to be taken seriously and part of that is the better teams receiving criticism when their results fall far short of expectations.
Gill was made look particularly foolish after Croly parted ways with the Tallaght club on Saturday morning after being beaten comprehensively 4-1 in Limerick. It appears Pat Fenlon is set for the job (at the time of writing) after watching their League Cup semi-final victory from the stands on Monday evening. We will now know for certain if the problems at Shamrock Rovers are purely down to their manager.
Now on to the football…
Dundalk look set for the title
Dundalk stormed the barricades on Friday evening and became the first away team to beat Cork in over a year. Their 2-1 triumph gave them a six point lead over their Leeside rivals. While such a gap is hardly insurmountable, especially in a league as competitive as ours, the air of champions stalks Stephen Kenny’s side.
Most teams would have buckled under the pressure after conceding a late equaliser in the cauldron of a packed Turner’s Cross but instead of simply attempting to head back east with a valuable draw they actually went up the other end and secured a priceless victory with Brian Gartland’s persistence paying off.
The Louth club are also still in both cup competitions so a truly historic season could well be on the cards by season’s end. For Cork, who attracted 5,700 punters through their gates for the title showdown, the future is still bright.
Bray’s late leveller may be a season defining goal
It’s always a cliché to refer to a clash between two relegation threatened sides as a six-pointer but most clichés have more than an element of truth to them and the game between Bray and Athlone illustrated this point clearly. Heading into the 90th minute, Athlone, 1-0 up, would trail both UCD and Bray by only three points if they could cling on to their narrow lead. Instead, Michael Barker hit a stunning equaliser to leave Athlone five points adrift of second bottom UCD and still six behind Bray.
There is still hope for the basement club as both teams directly above them have been in atrocious form in recent times, but if Bray are to do their usual escape act they may well look back on Barker’s rasping drive as the crucial moment of their campaign.
One More thing…
While it may seem like I have a RTÉ like obsession with Shamrock Rovers I can’t let this week go without mentioning Trevor Croly’s appearance on Soccer Republic next to Alan Cawley last night. Viewing to make you squirm. Aidan Power handled some of the most awkward television since David Brent managed a paper company quite impressively.
Conor Hayes, Pundit Arena.