It was the cup final the people wanted to see – the irresistible force of league winners Dundalk matched against the immovable object of a star studded Cork City team.
Memories instantly cast back to that wonderful day almost exactly twelve months-ago when 7,000 people packed into Oriel Park to witness a title decider between Kenny and Caulfield’s charges.
The atmosphere and colour which filled the League of Ireland venue that day was something not seen on such a scale for many a year, so throw all these attributes onto a stage like the FAI Cup final at the beautiful Aviva Stadium and you can understand the excitement and anticipation within League of Ireland circles.
Ever since the first FAI Cup final staged at the new ‘home of Irish football’ in 2010, which drew a crowd of over 36,000, Irish football’s showcase day has become an almost guaranteed thriller with memories such as Ciaran Kelly’s shoot-out heroics, Anthony Elding’s incredible winner and St.Pat’s long cup wait coming to an end now synonymous with Ireland’s oldest sporting competition.
So with all these factors in mind, plus the feel good factor currently surrounding Irish football ahead of next months Euro 2016 play-off, you would think selling this years cup final to the average punter would be a piece of pie for the FAI?
However, it appears the body in charge of running the domestic game has once again forgotten it’s duties of care towards the League of Ireland and off the back of the Conroy report which discussed the need for more big days like this very cup final, you really do have to question the direction the domestic game is heading in under the stewardship of John Delaney and co.
With just over a week until Dundalk and Cork City step out onto the hallowed Landsdowne Road turf, match tickets are yet to go on sale to the general public, with a date for release only announced early Wednesday.
Cork City’s self-promoting off the field has been a major success story within the league over the past two seasons, with massive crowds turning out week on week at the wonderful Turners Cross facility to see their local heroes.
Once again in the lead up to this cup final the media people at Cork have been on the ball with press conferences, open training days and meet the player opportunities.
Unfortunately it appears that if Dundalk and Cork are to maximise the hype around this game it will all have to come from within their camps as the lack of build up on official FAI channels has been minimal to say the least.
Meanwhile, tickets continue to trade hands for sums as high as €120 ahead of the Bosnia clash next month, with the windfall of potentially qualifying for France next summer leaving the FAI’s hierarchy rubbing their hands with glee.
While all of this is going on we have League of Ireland clubs relying solely on European money as the source of any significant earnings this year, as the domestic prize money continues to be meagre, while clubs are losing money from their games being broadcast live, a situation you wouldn’t find in any other league with a drop of respect for itself.
The ramifications of the Conroy report are yet to be seen, but the longer time passes from its release last month the more likely it will just become another dust catcher at FAI headquarters, much like the Genesis report of a decade ago.
So with this latest act of disregard for the domestic clubs maybe it is time to consider a change in how or who governs our national league?