This might be just a humble piece of writing on the internet but that doesn't mean it can't suffer existential crises. It's a recap, but it's closer to the next round of games. It's usually written as if its the opinion of a group of writers when it's just one man.
That man still can't figure out his own team, but he writes about every other team. He suspects his team are rubbish, but he's wary about recency bias being in play.
The League of Ireland is in a permanent existential crisis. We are, at once, the top level of Ireland's favourite sport and also ignored by the majority of it's fans. Our paying customer base is booming, but we seem to have less TV viewers than ever before. Week three might be therapy for some of us.
Lets go? Fine, let's go...
LOI recap: Week Three
The Big Talking Point: Rovers blip
The existential crisis spills into our opening bit where we/I know there will be accusations of bias here that the horror weekend showing from St Pats isn't the main talking point but we'll deal with that later.
The biggest talking point after the weekend is Shamrock Rovers continuing to struggle.
Four games into the league and no wins. Rovers dropped four points in Tallaght Stadium in 2022, they've dropped five points in their opening two games this year. They conceded ten goals at home in 2022 and six in the last week there.
There are excuses, or reasons if you're feeling charitable, of course. They were missing their four primary centre backs against a very good Derry side on Friday and still could have got a result. Being two down to Cork City with less than ten minutes left, they'll be relieved to come away with a point.
The outlook for Rovers isn't too bleak though. For Friday's trip to Tolka Park, they'll have defensive leader Roberto Lopes back from suspension. Rovers, consciously I believe, have tried to lower the age profile of the squad and it may take a little while for them to gel. The average age of their starting XI in the big European games last year was over 30.
Amongst the five outfielders to play most minutes this season, Jack Byrne is the oldest at 26. It might also be true that the young players aren't as good as the tried and tested veterans they've replaced.
Most of the league will be hoping it's the latter.
The Moment Of The Week
The newly renamed LOI Women's Premier Division was back on Saturday and Shamrock Rovers returned to the league after several years away. They made a splash with some big name signings from their new rivals but struggled against Sligo Rovers.
It took an injury time winner from captain and national team regular Aine O'Gorman to earn their first three points of the year.
— LOI Women (@LoiWomen) March 4, 2023
The Happiness Index
A double weekend in the Premier meant clubs like Shelbourne couldn't fully enjoy their start to the weekend so we're left with these five fanbases.
- Derry City – Last season, Derry City had a great record in Dublin, winning eight and losing only two. Unfortunately for their title chances, those two were in Tallaght. Friday's win over Rovers felt big.
- Galway United – After spygate, Galway United went to promotion favourites Waterford and beat them 1-0. They've got three wins from three and are five points clear of Waterford.
- Dundalk – An iffy start to the season is forgotten after back-to-back home wins against Pats and Shels in Oriel Park. The 5-0 thrashing of Pats being particularly pleasing to Stephen O'Donnell, of course.
- Wexford (Youths) – A first win for the men's team. A first win for the women's team. They're the same club, even if the women have maintained the Youths moniker the men had to distance themselves from.
- Peamount United – The only Women's Division team to have spent all their WNL/LOI life without affiliation to a "men's club" had a tumultuous off season with several of their high profile players leaving for Shamrock Rovers (and elsewhere). The venerable Karen Duggan spoke last week about the Peas having a "point to prove" so they'll clearly be delight with the opening day win away to President's Cup winners Athlone Town.
Media Spotlight of the Week: Angles
Cork City's Darragh Crowley beat Alan Mannus from halfway to Kiltipperpic.twitter.com/U12s37ycx2
— Balls.ie (@ballsdotie) March 6, 2023
Darragh Crowley put Cork City 2-1 up in Tallaght with a spectacular goal. It was shared widely, including by the Balls twitter account, and there's no doubt these viral goals help spread the good word.
— League of Ireland (@LeagueofIreland) March 7, 2023
The League was thankfully quick to post that on Monday but was it necessary to post another angle on Tuesday. The pixellated cameras never look great and even though there was four thousand people in Tallaght, the reverse angle makes it look empty.
The league and clubs should give more thought to the pictures and video selected for sharing.
Kenny Cunningham’s Eyebrow Raise of the Week
It was a bad weekend for St Pat's manager Tim Clancy.
After squeaking by Shelbourne last week, he was hoping for a big performance away to the team who finished one place ahead of them in the league last year on Friday night. Instead, Dundalk won 5-0 and were the beneficiaries of abysmal defending by Pats.
Any manager who presides over a 5-0 defeat should face some heat and it intensified on Saturday when his post-match interview laid blame at the feet of the players.
— League of Ireland (@LeagueofIreland) March 4, 2023
There was definitely eyebrows being raised by some online St Pats fans as Clancy talked about players deserving to start despite him being in charge of selection.
On Monday they lost 2-1 to a Sligo Rovers side who played 70 minutes with 10 men. Rovers goals were well taken and their fans must have been delighted with effort from the team. Clancy's Pats didn't lack effort and they created several decent chances. On another night they may have scored three or four goals and gone home with all three points. They didn't though and a smattering of boos at the end showed it wasn't just online where tensions were building.
It's still early days but with Bohs and Shamrock Rovers to come for Pats, what happens if they've one win and four defeats from the opening six games?
Predicting the Game of the Week
Two Dublin derbies this week with Damien Duff hoping for another win in Tolka to really ask questions of Shamrock Rovers. A win for Bohs in Inchicore will heap pressure on Tim Clancy already.
The game of the week should be in Derry though with the Candystripes taking on a Dundalk side with loads of momentum from last weekend. No TV games again this week so streaming is your only option but those three could all be cracking games in front of packed stadiums.
Bohs jersey continues to poke some people in the eye and sell well.
The non-UCD Monday crowds were good but Shamrock Rovers will be irked that they dipped below Bohemians' crowd that night.
International call ups are on the way for a few of our brightest talents. How many of the Estonian recruits to the league will be in their squad?