Drogheda are in free fall
It all started so well. Drogheda United’s season began with a 4-1 hammering of their local rivals at home and continued at pace, after six matches they had twelve points, now after sixteen games they have only fifteen, a solitary win over Bohemians being the only positive result. While it could be argued that Drogheda’s start was an aberration and they are now regressing towards the mean, it does not account for the alarming number of goals they are conceding.
In the space of the last four days they have shipped ten goals, conceding four at home to a Limerick side who are not free scorers and another six at St Pats.
It’s also two weeks since that game in Dundalk where they let in seven, avenging and dwarfing Drogheda’s brilliant result on the opening day of the league. The win they recorded over Bohs keeps them out of the relegation play off spot for now, but looking at the steady stream of hammerings they are receiving it might not be long before they occupy the penultimate position in the table
Two leagues within the league
There is always a chance writing a column like this week to week, that one could end up embarrassing themselves with predictions and my suggestion last week that teams may follow the Limerick blueprint in stopping the champions now looks very foolish.
St. Pats fired in eleven goals on Friday and Monday and once again look set to push all the way for the title. Dundalk too, barely broke a sweat in accounting for Bohemians on Friday and then hammered UCD a few days later.
The gap between the top four and the rest of the league is now becoming clear, especially as Sligo have now dropped out of the running altogether. Although Cork and Shamrock Rovers are not as free scoring as their championship rivals they are still picking up enough points to keep themselves involved.
At the other end of the table another mini-league has developed that stretches from Bohemians in eleventh to Bray in sixth place with only four points separating the teams. Outside of these two leagues, only Sligo in fifth and Athlone at the foot of the table looks secure in their positions, not that their respective placings will please either side.
Refereeing standards a sign of FAI’s apathy
Fans of the league usually produce a smile when supporters of English teams or even GAA fans constantly moan about referees, if only you knew what went on at my club, is generally the gist of their thoughts. On Monday at Oriel Park we had another shambles as it appeared that Andy Boyle was shown two yellow cards but was not sent from the field of play.
It’s been a pretty disastrous season so far for league officials who are consistently shown up for their bizarre decisions on Soccer Republic. Red cards have been dished out like confetti as well as simple penalty decisions being missed repeatedly.
Being a ref in the league is a difficult job with little reward but as seasons pass and the standards seem to get worse and worse, sympathy is hard to muster. Have the FAI ever looked at improving things? Their appointment of officials to matches seem to suggest they haven’t, a high-profile error by a man in the middle is not punished by a sitting down the next week.
The fact that a journalist asked the FAI’s referee assessor on Monday whether Boyle had been booked twice and was told that he is not answerable to the press speaks volumes.
Accountability and transparency are not the association’s strong points. The FAI have no love for the league and do not bother making a conscious effort to promote the games, so asking them to invest in improving refereeing standards by better training and more oversight is, unfortunately, pie in the sky aspirations.
One More Thing…
David Weir, former Everton defender and currently assistant manager of Brentford was an interested spectator at Dalymount Park on Friday night. If he was watching Richie Towell, as many suspect, he will have been impressed by the former Hibs man’s performance. The midfielder scored a scorcher in the second half to seal another three points for his side.
Conor Hayes, Pundit Arena.