By Philip O’Rourke (@effect_phil)
It may seem strange to say that another club from another country could influence our league but let me explain how it could be a good thing.
The Premier League as we know has a worldwide fan base, clubs like Man Utd and Liverpool have a stranglehold on football supporters in most countries of the world, especially those smaller nations who do not have recognized clubs in their national leagues. Ireland would fall into that category.
Although Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk have made in-roads in the Europa league in recent years, Irish clubs are generally unknown around the world of football. Even in our own country, most of the football fans overlook the League of Ireland for the more glamourous draw of the Premier League. But that may come to an end.
With the consistent success of Man City comes a rather boring conclusion to every Premier League season. Last season they won it quite easily. This season Liverpool are challenging them and doing a good job of it, but City are still odds on favourites to regain their crown.
If this happens it will be back to back titles for the blue side of Manchester. Irish football fans, who generally support Liverpool and Man Utd will be disgruntled at this prospect, for totally different reasons of course.
Man Utd fans won’t be happy their neighbours are stealing the limelight their club held all through the 90’s and 00’s, while Liverpool fans will feel City are denying them the best chance to win their first Premier League and their first top flight title in 29 years. Any football fan who has watched their club fight for a title all season only to fall short will tell you how mentally draining it is.
So, with those two sets of fans becoming disillusioned by what is happening over the Irish sea, they may feel they need to get their fix somewhere else. Nobody wants to see their biggest rival win everything every year and being Liverpool and Man United fans, they won’t be used to it either. So, where better to get their football fix then from their own backyard?
The League of Ireland is not only competitive, it provides quality football, played by some of the countries best young and experienced players. The likes of Conor Clifford of St Pats, Keith Ward of Bohemians or Karl Sheppard of Cork City are there to watch right on your doorstep.
Without having to fly to a game you could probably get a bus or, depending who you follow or where you live, walk to the game and be home by 11pm that night. It is also affordable.
How much is a ticket to Old Trafford these days? Or Anfield? And that’s not even including the flight over and the accommodation you would have to pay for just to watch a bunch of players who are paid way too much to play a game that is being priced out of the working-class people’s hands. You’re also taking the risk of not getting the ‘Quality’ that the Premier League and Sky Sports promises you will get in every Premier League match.
I’ve often watched more entertaining games down my local park than what was on show on my television screen. Instead you could be paying as little as twenty euro for a match day ticket and a burger whilst supporting your local football club. That feeling of supporting your own can not be bought. It’s priceless. You may even have change to buy a match day programme.
I’m aware that Dundalk and Cork have been dominating the league the last few seasons, but history has shown that the League of Ireland clubs can produce a surprise. Being at Richmond Park on Friday night and seeing St Pats beat Cork has set the standard for shocks that may be produced this season.
So, here’s hoping Man City dominate the Premier League for years to come and that Irish football fans get bored of Pep’s Football and turn to the alternative. Sure, you never know, you might enjoy it, depending on who you support of course #TheGreatestLeagueInTheWorld