Since the Premier League finished up last week many of you have been wondering if there is any football in the intervening period of time. Well, you’ll be glad to know that the League of Ireland exists and we are going to give you a quick recap of the main events that have occurred so far, along with reasons why one should go and attend a game.
They will range from spectacular goals to the introduction of many new players many of whom will probably be playing across the Irish Sea this time next year. As always if you feel that we missed anything or if you disagree with them let us know via the comment’s section below.
1. New Talent
We constantly hear the likes of Dunphy, Giles and co. complaining about the lack of talent in the league yet they get highly excited when someone like Seamus Coleman emerges, a player that many League of Ireland fans would have known about for a few years before making his big break with Everton.
In the FA Cup Final David Meyler played for n the centre of the field for Hull, even though he wasn’t a starter with Cork City when he left in 2008 to join Roy Keane’s Sunderland due to the presence of Colin Healy and Joe Gamble.
This season we have seen the emergence of Brian Lenihan for Cork City playing full back and in the past few weeks there have been scouts following him; Bournemouth are just one of the clubs keeping tabs on him. In Dublin we have Chris Forrester who may not be worth the €17 million that Pat Dolan once said he was but he’s only in his early twenties and with a standout goal for Pats vs. Drogheda United that went viral it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him cross the Irish sea in the very near future.
Something the League of Ireland has always been criticised over is the supposed lack of quality, but it’s safe to say that we have seen many top class goals this season. Personally, this writer liked the Sean Gannon 36-pass goal vs St. Pats, as it had all the skills of continental Europe shown on RTÉ television to a large audience that can only be good for the league.
Next up there was the outrageous 40 yard strike from Chris Forrester as mentioned above. Outside of that you had Robbie Benson running half the pitch to lob Gerard Doherty in the Derry goal for UCD and finally there was Daryl Horgan’s pile driver for Dundalk against St. Pats to guide them on their way to an impressive 4-1 win.
Even the mention of the word in League of Ireland circles brings with it an air of controversy. Roddy Collins’ Derry City experiment was abandoned last week, with assistant manager Peter “Pizza” Hutton taking over as manager.
Roddy had a very eventful transfer window by bringing in the likes of experienced defender Cliff Byrne from the UK while bringing up his son Roddy Collins and Enda Curran from his first division winning side. However, the Brandywell faithful didn’t seem impressed by the inclusion of the manager’s son and this was the start of the problems for Roddy. Playing a very defensive side didn’t enamour him to the Derry fans and this again heaped more pressure on him especially since results weren’t going his way.
Lastly,there were many fallouts among the playing staff. Whether it was playing top scorer Rory Patterson among the reserves or dropping Doherty for a match due to a training ground bust up, there was a number of instances of discontent in the squad. Even the release of Kevin Deery had many supporters up in arms as they felt the player had been poorly treated by the manager despite going through rehab to clear up the many injuries that he has suffered in the past few years.
Roddy has left his post, but it will be very interesting to watch the season unfold at the Brandywell.
4. Rebel Army
It would be fair to say that for the first two years of Cork City’s existence in the Premier Division haven’t exactly set the place on fire. That has well and truly changed under new manager John Caulfield who has built up an impressive team using many players from the club’s successful underage set up of the past couple of years along with some impressive finds from the Munster Senior League where he has been coaching UCC.
The likes of Mark O’ Sullivan and Brian Lenihan have been the two stand out players so far this campaign while players who many thought were finished, such as Colin Healy,look reinvigorated by the fresh approach.
The Cross is now hopping with large crowds of over 5,000 turning up for games that last year would have struggled to have 2,500. All in all the league is a better place now that Cork City appear to have gotten their mojo back and don’t be surprised if they’re among the clubs battling for Europe at the end of the season.
It’s a topic this writer does not like discussing, as referees have a very hard job. However, for anyone watching Soccer Republic on Monday nights it appears that every week there is a big fault in one game due to refereeing inconsistencies.
It hasn’t been the most positive of starts to the league but everybody hopes that it will be spoken out less in the coming months. However, the controversial entertainment value at present is not to be missed and that’s why you should be watching the League of Ireland.
Stephen Walsh, Pundit Arena.