League of Ireland – A look back at week one

The long off-season came and went, eventually, last Friday with the first round of fixtures from the two respective divisions.

The League of Ireland is one of the most unpredictable and exciting to follow in the world with unbelievable stories and mind boggling plot twists never too far away.

Here are the headlines from week one of the 2015 SSE Airtricity League:

Cabinteely not here to make up the numbers

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‘They won’t have any fans’, ‘They’ll get battered every week’, ‘There’s no way they will see out the season’. These were just some of the sentiments made when it was announced Dublin schoolboy club Cabinteely would replace Shamrock Rovers ‘B’ in the First Division.

Wexford Youths were suppose to be the first to pick up a ‘free three points’ against the new boys on Friday evening in Stradbrook. But little did Shane Keegan know his promotion favourites were about to get beaten in front of the highest attended second tier game of the opening weekend.

Around 1,300 ‘Cabo’ fans created a fiery atmosphere with pyrotechnics both on and off the pitch as Eddie Gormley’s men claimed a famous 1-0 win before doing the same away to UCD in the cup on Monday night. Assertions that Cabinteely are here to make up the numbers seem wide of the mark.

The wind hates the League of Ireland

Big attendances, exciting new signings and some mouth wrong watering match ups set us up for a fantastic start to the new season. However, this is Ireland and one thing you can always count on to ruin a day out is the elements.

St.Pat’s fans in particular will be cursing the skies after the gale like winds caused their keeper’s kick out to float backwards to Patrick Cregg whose way-ward goal kick fed new boy Danny North before he slotted the ball into the corner of the ‘Saints’ net in style.

It’s difficult enough stopping a star studded ‘Hoops’ midfield on a normal day but when the wind is bringing the ball closer to your net every time it’s cleared, you’re in for a long day.

Champions Dundalk also failed to impress despite an opening day win over Longford with the winds combining with a less-than billiard table-like Oriel Park pitch to deliver a poor game of football in County Louth.

Oriel Park continues to divide

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The Champions of Ireland? Yes, but one of the most unloved grounds universally? Without doubt. Oriel Park – in particular its playing surface – is once again lighting up the League of Ireland message boards after the visit of First Division champions Longford failed to provide any sort of entertainment for the paying customers, especially those housed in the 1980’s throwback away end.

With a European pay day coming up in the near future for Stephen Kenny’s side, many would love to see a return to grass for the Champions of Ireland, however, the cost and lengthy manner of such a project may mean we are talking about the rubber surface in Dundalk for another few seasons yet.

Limerick are as poor as suggested

Ok, the season is only a week old but a heavy defeat at home to ‘Bohs’ and a League Cup defeat to a mixed Cobh Ramblers side hardly inspires confidence that Limerick FC can compete, let alone survive, in the top flight this season.

With a thread bare squad and limited resources, you’d have to fear for the team playing out of the dilapidated Jackman Park.

Bray won’t be much better

Again, the 2015 campaign is only a few days old but the performance of Bray Wanderers at home to Drogheda on Saturday and the poor attendance, despite promise of a new era under new owners, would suggest the Wicklow club’s luck may finally run out at this level.

Having managed to dodge the bullet both on and off the pitch so many times in the last couple of years, Alan Mathews would probably bite your hand off for a play-off berth and given the state of affairs at Limerick right now you wouldn’t back against it.

Clubs are still living beyond their means

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Days into the new season and it’s the same old headlines coming out of a League of Ireland club with recently relegated Athlone Town the latest to sound the alarm.

With no main sponsor yet again this season and with attendances are expected to plunge off the back of a return to the ‘graveyard of Irish football’, they’ll surely be questions for the Midlands club as to why the committee put such a strong squad together knowing the circumstances they are facing.

Of course everyone within the domestic game hopes the statement released by ATFC is just a warning shot intend to fire up support from the local community and maybe secure a sponsor at long last, but having to do so just days into the new season really does show that our clubs are not learning from past mistakes and until they do, many more clubs will be issuing statements like this.

Soccer Republic really annoys people

One thing you can guarantee every Monday night, just before midnight, is a flurry of angry tweets from League of Ireland fans slamming the lack of highlights and amount of poor promos on RTE’s highlights show.

The fact the show airs at such an unsociable hour does little to attract new viewers to the league and the sub standard highlights packages and almost thrown together appearance of promos such as ‘Irish abroad’ and ‘fans questions’ do little to quell the anger of forgotten First Division fans.

“Blink and you’ll miss the highlights” was just one quote used to sum up the first show of the season, let’s hope for better as the year goes on.

The Author

Kieran Burke

While a fan and follower of football from all over the globe, Kieran Burke specialises in all things League of Ireland with opinionated pieces, big name interviews and match previews/reports his bread and butter. Check out his new website www.betweenthestripesblog.wordpress.com

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