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'A Shock To Play Football There': Icelandic Players Taken Aback By Dundalk 'Pigsty'

'A Shock To Play Football There': Icelandic Players Taken Aback By Dundalk 'Pigsty'
By Donny Mahoney
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On the whole, it's been a pretty dismal summer for League of Ireland in clubs. This week's Conference League fixtures brought the curtain down on the European campaigns of Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk. Bar Kazakhstan-bound Derry, who knocked out Finnish side KuPS Kuopio from Europa Conference League qualifying on Thursday, there hasn't been much success for LOI clubs.

Dundalk were eliminated 5-3 on aggregate to Icelandic side KA Akureyri on Thursday evening, after a 2-2 draw at Oriel Park.

It appears the experience of playing at the salubrious surrounds of Oriel Park, with its synthetic pitch, was a truly memorable experience for the Icelandic players.

Speaking to Icelandic website Futbolti.net, KA's Ívar Örn Árnason was extremely critical of both the dressing facilities and the pitch at Oriel using extremely colourful language to describe his experience of the match. [Note here that Google has translated the Icelandic word for dressing room as 'cell']

The game was at 19:45 local time, it was quite the pigsty that our cell was. I think we all would have gotten some kind of yeast infection if we had showered there....

The artificial grass was quite... you couldn't calculate the bounce of the ball to save your life. This was like the first generation (of artificial grass) that came to [national stadium] Laugardalin at the time. So the ball didn't help, we are used to Select ball which is considered quite heavy. We played with a light ball, but no excuses; knew we were going into a fight."

"It was quite a shock to play football there. The artificial grass we played on in the 1st round, I dare say it was like 10 times better."


Örn Árnason was then asked if he was offended by the state of the pitch.

"You're not going to be offended by something like this when you're in Europe. You know that it just varies from team to team how the conditions are. Although we (KA) are with very fine grass then our facilities are not great, we don't have big dressing rooms and we don't offer away teams great facilities when they come north. But at least we have good grass. You don't let such small things bother you at all."

The artificial pitch at Oriel Park has been a lightning rod for criticism from League of Ireland players and managers for years. Current Dundalk boss Stephen O'Donnell especially annoyed with it back in April.


“It’s gone beyond probably a point of not a great surface to watch football on – it’s actually injuring players. Muscle injuries, there is no give on it. You go up for a header and if you don’t land square on the ball of your foot, you’re doing your ankle ligaments or doing your knee.

Still, we've never heard any footballer frightened of picking up a yeast infection from the away showers: that is a new one.

h/t Between The Stripes



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