There are a few reasons why we moved this weekly column to later in the week but the biggest, and most helpful this week, is that a LOT of LOI news comes out midweek. Sure, we lose the immediate overreactions to results at the weekend, but we rarely delve into tactical analysis, and we gain a chance to talk some of the midweek chaos. Some weeks, it's gambling tax. Other weeks it's another new ground proposal. There's only 10 managers/head coaches in the Premier Division and this week, we lost two of them. Let's dig in.
League of Ireland recap: Week Eleven
The Big Talking Point: Clancy and Healy exits
We wrote a few weeks ago about the pressure Tim Clancy was under at St Patrick's Athletic. The Saints followed that up with a decent draw in Tallaght and 4 wins to find themselves second in the table 2 weeks ago. They've since lost, weakly it should be added, to Shamrock Rovers, Derry City and, finally, Sligo Rovers on Monday. They didn't manage a shot on target in either game of the bank holiday double header.
The parting may be that rarest of partings - a "mutual" decision that isn't just a sacking or a resignation. Clancy spoke in 2022 that he had come in at short notice and didn't have time to build the squad he wanted. He didn't have that excuse in 2023 and he leaves the club in 7th position but still well in the European race. European performances, and results, are the highlights of Clancy's tenure. Knocking out Mura of Slovenia was followed by a win away to CSKA Sofia. But for a weird refereeing performance, the Saints may have won through in the second leg too. Instead, they lost and squeaked home for another European qualification in 4th place last season. Whoever gets the job - Richard Dunne and Ian Baraclough are the two being linked most strongly - will receive strong backing from chairman Garett Kelleher, as all their predecessors have.
Cork City's new owner Dermot Usher has promised strong backing for on-field matters but perhaps came to power too late in the pre-season to back Colin Healy this year. City sit second bottom in the table after four successive defeats that started with defeat in UCD and ended with a five goal drubbing in Dalymount. After the game Healy clashed with a travelling support.
On Wednesday, City announced Liam Buckley was being installed as "Sporting Director" with particular emphasis on player recruitment. Within hours, it was revealed that Colin Healy had resigned as manager. Usher and Buckley have both since claimed they asked Healy to stay on when he told them he was resigning. Healy is obviously a legend on Leeside so perhaps it's best that he stepped away before things got really ugly. Tonight will see Liam Buckley take charge in Cork as they host his former side St Pats - who will have Tim Clancy's assistant Jon Daly in charge - but Buckley has stated he has no intention of taking the job full time. Co-incidentally, Dermot Usher and Tim Clancy are good friends.
The LOI managerial fraternity has rallied around Clancy and Healy with Ruadhri Higgins and Declan Devine amongst those who bemoaned the short tenure of managers in the league. Higgins replaced Devine 2 years ago, while Devine replaced Keith Long only last August. Clancy and Healy may well be good men, and they certainly know more about football than 99.99% of football fans and commentators, but sometimes clubs and managers need to de-couple and start fresh. City and Pats both start new journeys tonight hoping for improvement.
The Moment Of The Week
Richie Towell volleys Shamrock Rovers to a 1-0 lead over Derry City with a superb improvised finish after a sweeping move by the visitors.
📺 Live on @RTE2 and @RTEplayerhttps://t.co/1ncBhUXJWF
📱 Updates: https://t.co/At0z4lhhYV pic.twitter.com/lZwK8PaP5p
— RTÉ Soccer (@RTEsoccer) May 1, 2023
Second week in a row that a Shamrock Rovers goal makes our moment of the week. This stunning team goal finished by Richie Towell wasn't selected just for it's quality - and it is QUALITY - but it also shows the gap between the two pre-season title favourites; Derry City and Rovers. Rovers were excellent on Monday and fully deserved their win. The Champions are flying, while Derry continue to struggle at home on that awful pitch. Three defeats in four at home is not good enough for a title charge.
The Happiness Index
While most of the country is happy we get to enjoy a bank holiday weekend, some football fans are dreading the thought of seeing their team lose twice in four days. Not these lads though.
- Shamrock Rovers – As above, they're flying.
- Bohemians – Top of the table and a Dublin derby to look forward to.
- Athlone Town – Friday night 3-0 win over Wexford. Saturday women's team win 3-1 away to Sligo Rovers, Monday night a huge 4-1 win away to Finn Harps. Good times for the midlanders
- Sligo Rovers - John Russell's side probably deserved a point in Tallaght on Friday and easily beat St Pats on the second of their Dublin trips on Monday. The play Dundalk on Saturday with the winner could be top three.
- Peamount United – Top of the league and a week off.
Media Spotlight of the Week: Cork City and podcasts
The twitter account for the Cork City-focused "The Other Three Amigos Podcast" was the first to break the news of Colin Healy's departure on Wednesday. The rumours may have been swirling but they were the first to talk about it on social media. Mainstream journalists, such as John Fallon of the Examiner, followed a short time later with the club officially announcing it late that night. Their social media admin being in the cinema may just have been a co-incidence but it appears the club weren't happy with the podcast account breaking the news and they revoked their media accreditation for tonight's game against St Pats.
Following publication of our correct tweet last night that Colin Healy had left his position as manager of Cork City FC, the club have withdrawn our media accreditation for tomorrow nights game vs St Patricks Athletic.
We would like to… pic.twitter.com/oERwMLq48v
— The Other 3 Amigos Podcast (@TheOther3Amigos) May 4, 2023
There are plenty of podcasts talking about LOI football, ranging from big media companies to a couple of fans chatting in a room. TOTAP straddled the fence between journalism - they often interviewed Colin Healy before and after games - and fanzines. There may be an argument that they shouldn't have sought accreditation and merely attended the games as fans as other club-based podcasts do but it is extremely petty for the club to remove their accreditation because they reported, correctly as they point out, on a huge issue related to the club.
Predicting the Game of the Week
Only one choice this week. Champions Shamrock Rovers host table topping Bohemians in front of a sold out Tallaght Stadium and a live TV audience on RTE 2. Bohs suffered a slight set back last Friday with a 1-1 draw away to UCD but responded with that 5-0 win over Cork City. Rovers have won 6 of the last 7 and now sit only four points behind their cross-city rivals.
An injury to Alan Mannus is clearly a concern for Rovers but replacement Leon Pohls saved a penalty in Derry and will hope to prove his worth over the coming weeks. The sides played only 4 weeks ago with Rovers winning 2-0 in Dalymount. Bohs form has been patchy since, but a win tonight would see them dreaming of a league challenge for the first time in a decade. It should be a great occasion for TV viewers.
SEE ALSO: How Team Ireland Is Shaping Up For The Paris Olympics: Spring 2023 Edition