• Home
  • /
  • Football
  • /
  • Dodge's League of Ireland Recap, Week 9: Pitch Battle

Dodge's League of Ireland Recap, Week 9: Pitch Battle

Dodge's League of Ireland Recap, Week 9: Pitch Battle
By John Dodge Updated
Share this article

This column wasn't published last week. A combination of factors outside our control were to blame. We're only mentioning it because "a combination of factors outside our control" could be a mantra for LOI managers as they seek to explain their defeats. In the last two weeks, we've had managers blame wind, pitches and officials for their woes. Lots of managers on that last one, but that isn't anything new.  What is new? Well continue reading...

League of Ireland recap: Week Nine

The Big Talking Point: Pitches

It's very, very rare that someone within the league criticizes their own club. It usually doesn't end well for them. Stephen O'Donnell was handpicked by the current Dundalk leadership though, so he probably has more leeway than most head coaches. It was still a surprise to see O'Donnell mention the state of Dundalk's synthetic surface last week following their 2-2 draw with Derry City. O'Donnell didn't suggest the pitch affected the result, but rather that is has contributed to their lengthy injury list - they lost Andy Boyle in warm ups and Greg Sloggett early on.

Their opponents Derry City also play on a synthetic surface that has been criticized by opposition players and managers. They also have suffered a lot of  injuries at their home stadium. Their manager Ruadhri Higgins has previously spoke about his preference for grass pitches. While Higgins team clearly play better away from home, the same isn't true for Dundalk. Under O'Donnell, they only lost once last year in Oriel, while under Stephen Kenny, they often steamrolled teams there. While teams can cry about advantages, fair or unfair, it seems clear that everybody in the league would prefer to play on grass pitches. We'll see if Derry (through the council) or Dundalk (through the owners) can afford to change. It seems unlikely that Athlone Town or newcomers Kerry FC are going to change anytime soon.

The Moment Of The Week

Outsiders often ask what the #GreatestLeagueInTheWorld moniker/hashtag means. It's clearly tongue in cheek, but it represents that je ne sais quoi when you try to describe why the COO of a football club grabbing the controls of a sponsored minibus (from a player not involved that night) and crashing it into a referee is great. If you can show us another league with stuff like this, fire away.


The Happiness Index

As ever we've more unhappy fans than happy fans this week. Some of it down to "a combination of factors outside our control."

  1. Galway United – 9 from 9 on the men's side and the most improved women's team.
  2. St Patrick's Athletic – 4 wins on the trot and the last of those a big one in Dalymount. We talked about how much pressure Tim Clancy was under a few weeks ago. That pressure is on pause - at least until the Shamrock Rovers game this week
  3. Waterford – They're starting to believe. Keith Long and Alan Reynolds have steadied the ship but it's some task to catch Galway
  4. Peamount United – Top of the WSL with 5 wins from 6. Their next two games are home to Wexford Youths and Shamrock Rovers. That should tell us a lot about their title chances,
  5. UCD – They're small in number for sure, but any fan base who gets their first win - 1-0 against second bottom side Cork City - has to be happy.

Media Spotlight of the Week: Here comes the mainstream


LOI coverage has existed on the periphery of sporting coverage but the continuing increase in crowd numbers has certainly sparked an increase in coverage by sports media here. The next step is the news media, and not because some ex-LOI "ace" was caught doing something naughty. Several of serious media here are working on stories trying to figure out how the league is gaining so much popularity. When the Sunday Business Post is reporting on the League of Ireland, you know the mainstream has taken over. I, for one, welcome our new moneyed overlords. Let's hope they push for government subsidies to improve our infrastructure and we can really see the thing take off.

Kenny Cunningham’s Eyebrow Raise of the Week

Dublin City Council released their revised plans for Dalymount Park this week. They're a shadow of the grand plans that accompanied the announcement of the plan several years ago. Shelbourne leaving the project, in favour of remaining in Tolka Park, along with "a combination of factors outside our control" mean the council are now aiming for an 8,000 capacity stadium that will have 2 stand and 2 terraces. While some will bemoan the less ambitious plans, the 8,000 venue should be ideal for Bohs and their support and when they get to a stage that 8,000 isn't enough, they can bring even more leverage to proposed deals. What raises our eye brow is news from DCC that the Richmond Park proposal - named the "St Patrick's Athletic Project" is close to being announced fully. It appears that DCC are very willing to work with Pats and Bohs to help both clubs, with Bohs playing in Richmond while Dalymount is being rebuilt and vice versa. The teams played a rip roaring game last week and it appears their fortunes are going to be linked together for a while to come.  Off the field anyway.


Predicting the Game of the Week

The RTE TV game is Shelbourne v Dundalk in Tolka Park.  Both sides can struggle to score (Dundalk have 2 away goals, Shels have 3 at home) but both played out 2-2 draws last week. Shels would have been happy with a point in Tallaght before hand but Damian Duff felt it was two points dropped after leading 2-0 with less than 20 minutes to go.  Bizarrely, Own Goals is Shels top scorer in 2023 with 3 of their 8 league goals so far.

The pick of the games though is St Patrick's Athletic v Shamrock Rovers in Inchicore. Pats have scored 15 goals in their last 5 games including 2 against Rovers in Tallaght in that 2-2 draw a month ago. Rovers have scored 14 in their last 5 games and both sides have gone from just off relegation spots, to just off league leading spots. The Saints are down to the bare bones in defence with captain Joe Redmond missing until June. Rovers are missing Rory Gaffney but Jack Byrne will play despite the speculation linking him with Charlotte in the MLS. A crowd of over 5,000 to witness 2 derby rivals who can score goals (and give up chances)? It's an easy pick for game of the week.

Rovers are involved in the pick of the WPD too as they host Bohemians in the first senior women's derby between those clubs. As mentioned earlier, a win for Peamount at home to Wexford sets them up for a title push.  Should be a fun weekend.


SEE ALSO: Dodge's League of Ireland Recap, Week 7: Bohs Are Giddy


Join The Monday Club Have a tip or something brilliant you wanted to share on? We're looking for loyal Balls readers free-to-join members club where top tipsters can win prizes and Balls merchandise

Processing your request...

You are subscribed now!

Share this article

Copyright © 2023. All rights reserved. Developed by Square1 and powered by PublisherPlus.com