Week three is in the books. A week that saw both men’s divisions bunch up and the women’s league kick off. It asked more questions than it answered but here’s some things we learned anyway.
1. Shamrock Rovers aren’t invincible
Burns >>>> to>>>>>Forrester
It finished 1-0 to St Pats over Shamrock Rovers at Richmond Park tonightpic.twitter.com/5B5ivTsf97
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) March 4, 2022
Eagle-eyed readers may have spotted that Rovers weren’t included in last week’s review as we weren’t sure what to make of them. An injury-time defeat to Derry might have been excused because of a rare Pico Lopes error and they followed that up with a comfortable but expected win over Drogheda. On Friday they huffed and puffed but, despite Stephen Bradley’s post-match claims to the contrary, they rarely threatened a Pats team that had coughed up multiple chances in all their previous games. For the second game in a row, one of their star attackers remonstrated with Stephen Bradley. Graham Burke on Monday was followed by Danny Mandroiu on Friday. Rovers still have the deepest squad in the league, but they have 34-year-old Ronan Finn playing right-wing back and right-footed Andy Lyons playing left wing back. It’s too early to suggest they still aren’t heavy favourites for the title, but the air of invincibility is gone. Next up they face Keith Long’s Bohs, who never feared them anyway.
2. Officiating is under the spotlight now
This weekly review won’t feature regular complaints about officials. They have an impossible task and never get praise when they do the job well (as is the case in most games, despite what some fans think). With every game being streamed now though, their mistakes are clipped and shared online within minutes. On Friday night, Bohs striker Promise Omochere received his second booking for this.
— Luke O’Riordan (@luke_oriordan) March 4, 2022
It’s not a foul, never mind a yellow card. The ref made a mistake. However, if players and fans are going to complain about refs, they need to look at how players act too. Ethan Boyle goes down clutching his face. Several Harps players rush in with Ryan Rainey (22) even waving the ol’ imaginary card. Dave Webster literally laughs when it’s produced. You can choose one of two paths here: call out players for their antics and refs for their mistakes, or accept refs make mistakes and understand players will do anything to win. You can’t have it both ways and pick and choose when it suits your team.
3. There could be a bottom four forming soon
UCD, Drogheda United, Finn Harps and Damien Duff’s Shelbourne look like they’ll take points off each other but not many off the rest. It’s still early days of course and all 4 have home games next weekend. If they all lose these games, they’ll start to be cast adrift already. Harps, with Ollie Horgan, are the most proven at this level and they’ll certainly pick up points at home to most teams. If anyone is to creep out of the bottom 4, it might be them.
4. The surging crowds don’t seem to be a fluke
Pats sold out for their win over Shamrock Rovers in Inchicore. It’s the first (unrestricted) league game to sell out in decades. Rovers against Bohs on Friday will be the biggest attendance this year.
These full houses ❤ pic.twitter.com/G8xSDk3pHm
— Ronan O'Flaherty (@ronanoflaherty) March 4, 2022
In the First Division over 3,000 people turned up at Eamon Deacy Park. Being two-nil down at half time, Galway officials may have been fearing they’d seen the last of the bumper crowd, but a thrilling fight back earned them a point and they’ll hope the local support turns out again.
Drogheda United showed a bit of the most imagination this week and offered free tickets for the visit of UCD. They were rewarded with a full house and a cracking 4-2 win. Let’s hope a few of the newcomers return for the visit of Sligo Rovers. As ever with crowds here, on field performance is key.
Proud to be a @DroghedaUnited member.
What an initiative to get people out watching local football. @HeadInTheGameIE park was bouncing last night.
The potential of @SSEAirtricityLg is staggering. Get out and support it!
Nothing beats Friday Night Football under the lights. pic.twitter.com/Zk2tH4zSI0
— Conor PB (@ConorBird3) March 5, 2022
5. As you were in the Women’s National League.
Wins for last year’s top 5 in the opening series of games with Galway’s 3-0 win away in Cork probably the most impressive. Champions Shels dug out a win against (new) local rivals Bohemians in front of a decent crowd in Tolka. Sligo Rovers couldn’t have asked for a much tougher opening game than away to Peamount with the Peas winning 6-0. Dora Gorman with the pick of the goals.
— Women's National League (@LoiWomen) March 5, 2022
Week four is highlighted by Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians on Friday night. There's no broadcast TV coverage so streaming on LOI TV (€7 for a match pass) is the only option for those who can't get a ticket. The pick of the women's game on Saturday is undoubtedly the visit of champions Shelbourne to cup winners Wexford Youths. That's also streamed on LOI TV but without any charge.