Sunday, July 30, 2006

TIGHTLE RACE

What a treat for the non-committed eL fan to look at the Premier Division table and see 4 clubs still competing tooth and tongue for supremacy.

At the time of writing Cork are preparing for their 2nd leg tie against Red Star; only the most optimistic amongst us believe that they will progress. In the words of Kevin Keegan, 'I would love it if they did.' Only the most pessimistic amongst us wouldn't give both Derry and Drogheda a fighting chance in their upcoming euro ties against Gretna and Start respectively.

Shels dismissal from Europe has coincided with an astonishing sprint to the top of the table as they have finally begun to believe everything that Pat Scully has said about them. They're playing with an elan typified by Bobby Ryan's first two league goals for the Reds and Joe Ndo's artistry.

Sligo have illuminated the competition with their attacking football and it's been refreshing to see a newly promoted club grab the bull by the scrotum and challenge mid table mediocrity. Even Gareth Farrelly's nightmare displays signs of slow evaporation as the Gypsies find some form.

If one was of the ilk which subscribes to scanning the pages of agony aunts in the hope of picking up a vulnerable woman or two, there may be seen there a correspondence signed; Disappointed, Dublin. I suspect this to be the work of Johnny McDonnell. While our man may be disappointed, he will not be despondent and recent new signings may restore the Inchicoremen to the fray.

Still tough to pick a winner, the European games could be a factor insofar as Cork are concerned. Their imminent dismissal would be a boon to their currently stretched squad, as with Shelbourne, they may rebound powerfully into league action. Drogheda's defence must surely be of Scottish descent and it will take them far. But both Setanta Cup finalists have continued to struggle for goals, with John O'Flynn and Declan O'Brien contributing about half of each side's tally they can ill afford their absences.

Derry City can do no wrong at the Brandywell, yet the naysayers continue to warn of their poor away form. They've picked up more points away than either Shels or Cork! Only an eejit would dismiss their chances. They have 4 top strikers to choose from plus the not inconsiderable contribution of Ciaran Martyn; goals are not a problem for the Candystripes, who responded to recent consecutive league defeats with recent consecutive league victories.

After falling unguarded into the deep end of negativity that surrounds football's finances let us celebrate the on field excellence and competitiveness of our native football league. Upward and onward.

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