Tuesday, August 01, 2006


If you were to pass through Limerick anytime soon you are certain to be taken aback at the innumerable amounts of citizens going about their daily business while scratching their heads.

Of course Frank McCourt would have us believe that this is a regular pose of Treatites. And if the galloping telegram boy were to get word of recent events in his 'native' city he would return post haste with pen and paper at the ready.

The puzzled look is the make up of choice; the bewildered expression substitutes conversation. For in the space of two months, the sky has fallen in on the Blues and nobody is talking about it.

Unsurprisingly, they opened their campaign with a defeat at Galway, but the computer's gift of 4 consecutive home ties offered them a turbo boost, which they exploited to the full. Next came an away trip to the Cats, and five wins on the trot.

Then the Jekyll and Hydesters that were early season vintage Dundalk came to Hogan Park and left with all three points. No panic, sure no one knew what to make of the Lilywhites. Limerick immediately got back to winning ways, progressed in the League Cup and felled the mighty Drogheda in an FAI Cup replay at the Drogs kennel.

An unconvincing victory at Monaghan in their last game before the World Cup break was a portent of what was to come. Nonetheless, they sat proudly astride the top of the First Division, five points ahead of Pat Scully's Hoops and any cracks were well covered to the undiscerning.

So we all gorged ourselves on the World Diving Cup, while waiting for the return to action. Fortunately, The Cats were the first hurdle for the Boys in Blue, and they had had star performer Christy Doran recalled to base near the border. 3 points.

Then trips to Cobh and Donegal proved fruitless and the natives were not sleeping well. All fears appeared to be allayed when they broke wind in the faces of Shamrock Rovers with back-to-back 1-0 victories at Hogan Park, earning a League Cup semi final tie with Derry City in the process.

Much wiping of brow and releasing of breath follow...all was as it should be. Those [insert whichever word takes your fancy] Dubliners had been sent packing with their studs up their arses...Lims ruled.

Then there was a dull sound where the Shannon meets the sea; was it the sound of an implosion, or of somebody shooting themselves expertly in the foot? I'm not a manager, so I won't attempt to usurp the hard - learned opinions of football's nomadic people. But the result was 4 defeats on the bounce, and a place in the pack, looking up at the studs they had so expertly placed only weeks before.

But the clouds may be lifting; just when you think it can't get any worse, it usually does. Fr. Joe started to play Monopoly with the lease on Hogan Park, adding to their onfield woes. Then came the sound of galloping hooves, a not unfamiliar sound in the city. So nobody looked around. But if they had taken a closer look at the rider's flowing locks they would have spotted Waterford gaucho, John Delaney. And him sporting two fine saddlebags to bring to Fr. Joe, who graciously accepted the FAI's generous offer, and football in Limerick was saved. In a manner of speaking.

Sceptical fans now have to place their faith in the hands of Noel O'Connor to complete the rescue; to be continued.

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