Thursday, August 02, 2007

Is That Window Closed?

Part lottery, part game of skill part time and fulltime. That's League of Ireland football 2007 vintage. Some strap thorns to their feet and scale Croagh Patrick naked; real martyrs stand before the tank that is the Premiership in an effort to instil pride, affection and support for our domestic league into the hearts of the flocks of Wild Geese who migrate each weekend to further line the pockets of the franchise holders across the Irish Sea.

I was apoplectic on Thursday morning; the love-hate relationship I share with Tom McGuirk boiled over badly. The gruff radio presenter was interviewing BBC Radio 5 man and WBA fanatic Adrian Chiles. Chiles has written a book querying the madness of adult fascination with supporting second rate football clubs, as opposed to the mega-successful ones. As a native of the Black Country he grew up supporting the Baggies, there's nothing untoward in that.

McJerk was rising in my esteem as he ranted on about the footballing elite across channel; pointing to the fact that they win everything, no one else has a chance football is ruined. With no credit on my phone, I yearned for an eL fan to be at his keyboard rapping out an e mail. As the interview progressed I actually began to feel that the host was going to burst into a soliloquy on our own league.

And then this happened.... Chiles says something along the lines of' Well you know Tom, Irish people need to stop supporting the Man U's and Liverpools' - McJerk was snorting in agreement -' and start following the likes of us'- 'Yes, yes' sayeth the nodding host. AAARRGGHH! Where are those thorns?

Meanwhile, back at the underground HQ of the eircom League of Ireland the shutters are coming down on the transfer window. A month which managers crave and loathe in equal amounts. An opportunity to boost the quality of your playing staff, but it involves relentless pursuit of player after player in an effort to seduce them with your product.

Paradoxically, the two most dormant clubs have been at either ends of the spectrum, but for very different reasons - Drogheda United and Wexford Youths. Buying players is anathema to Mick Wallace, he'll just promote another lad from the Under 17's. Paul Doolin is still bedding in the quality which he added at the start of the campaign.

With the business end of the season closing in the window represents a last throw of the teacup for those with aspirations of silverware or a European slot; maybe Setanta qualification or to make the play-offs; in some cases to avoid the play-offs.

Given Drogheda's horrid - that word is there to appeal to any females who may have stumbled upon this blog - time with injuries this term, the fact that they top the pile with a game in hand suggests what I already knew; it's there's to lose. So this was John McDonnell's shot at reeling in the Drogs. The end result suggests that the Saints continue to be top heavy with midfielders and a bit shy at either end of the park. At best Dave Rogers is steady as she goes, Glen Fitzpatrick offers an alternative to Pats current style up front. It's early doors - one for the barstoolers - with regards to Keane, Gibson, Barker and Macek. In fact, the most significant boost to Pats will be the return to fitness of Joe Ndo. He is ideally suited to their 3-5-2 system and adds a dimension unmatched by any other player in the league.

Shamrock Rovers were never likely to compete in the marketplace with the top two, but Pat Scully is not the type of man to let weeds prosper on his carefully cultivated lawn. His squad definitely needed an injection of experience, and as any Hoops fan will tell you, someone to deliver a dead ball properly. Dave Tyrrell provides a little of both. John Martin knows his way around the Premier Division dressing ground. Alan Reynolds smacks of my kind of shopping i.e. half price because it's about to pass its sell by date. There's no doubting his 'experience', but he is a long way from match fit. Should the Hoops be in the final shake-up he will have something to offer. They are experiencing a performance dip of late and I believe that there is not much left in their tanks. Hoping to be wrong here because they certainly deserve some reward for their superhuman efforts thus far. They are smack in the middle of the country's fulltime set-ups - Galway excluded - a fantastic achievement for the promoted side.

Sean Connor continues to frustrate at Dalymount Park, but that is not to dismiss the fact that his side are a work in progress. Plenty of experience, yes, but definite room for improvement. Impatience is not a rare commodity in Phibsboro; SC will most likely need Setanta qualification to buy him some oxygen. Those boys need to feel important. Sorry, I'm all out of smilies.

The Corkies are taking two steps forward, one step back. Healy and Farrelly are in, but it seems Royboy and his golden boot will soon be gone. City's season hinges on this. Denis Behan is a bit player, John O'Flynn is an in bits player. The burden falls upon the novice shoulders of Leon McSweeney. There is ample power in the engine room, enough to compensate for a defence as tight as an aged hot water bottle.

Paul Cook has re-ignited Sligo Rovers; he certainly seems to be an asset to this league but will have to stop seeing penalties for the opposition. It's up to the Management Committee to treat him well now, for they may well have mined a jewel.

'Tis early days yet for John Robertson, but just shifting the deadwood has improved the atmosphere at the Randywell and he has a quality squad believing in themselves again; now if he could just squeeze a few goals out of them.

Dropping down its time to purchase the memorial cards at Flancare Park. Longford Town, once the PD's of Irish football have suffered a similar ignominy to their political counterparts and it appears to be all over at the top table for Alan Matthews side. Only the buffoonery of Waterford United can save the Town from the automatic drop now.

Bray Wanderers and Galway United have their rear ends dangling dangerously over the drop zone - a poor performance from the Westerners, a learning curve for Tony Cousins. UCD have begun to expect to win games; a dangerous habit for a side which needs to muster everything in every game to maintain its midtable safety.

The First Division is providing us with an intriguing battle for the title. After an abject opening Cobh Ramblers have steered themselves into a challenging position against what was undoubtedly the strongest squad in the division at the off. Dundalk still look to have the strongest squad, but danger looms. Finn Harps have finally woken from their slumber and will take points off anybody in this league; the same can be said of lowly Shelbourne.

Dermot Keely must have thought he had been dreaming for four months; come July he enters the dressing room and his team are there. Limerick 37 cannot be discounted; this weekend's meeting with Harps is crucial; somebody needs to wound the Donegal side in order to halt their momentum. Should Higgsy's men take anything from Jackman Park it's hard to see them not take the third spot.

That took longer than expected; now where have I heard that before?

Labels: ,

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home