By Dermot Keely (@keelysbar)
Sorry about the blog going missing over the last couple of weeks. Just been a busy few weeks, but as usual I never tire of League of Ireland. The games have come hot and heavy.
Why is it necessary to cram so many matches into the first half of the season? Why have a mid season break? Why not just extend the League?
All of these things jump out at you as you watch the madness unfold. There is no logical reason for the League fixtures to be arranged in such a manner.
Gates have seen a big improvement this year but supporters cannot afford to go to matches Friday and Monday! Players cannot give of their best in the same scenario. The managers consistently complain that the players are too tired to give their best on Friday and Monday, which unfortunately affects the pace of the game and the crowds are also noticeably smaller. No thought appears to go into the making of our fixtures. This is not only the fault of administrators, but also of the clubs.
As Keith Long pointed out, having such a long layoff is false economy. We are also striving for a professional League and if you want to play in it you must be able to pay your players 52 weeks of the year, I know this would put pressure on the smaller clubs but by extending the league I think the average gate would increase and it would end this nonsense of playing on Friday and Monday.
On a brighter note we were able to show Dundalk play Waterford in Keely’s Bar on Monday, due to the introduction of a pilot project whereby Dundalk and Cork are streaming 4 matches each which can be seen by people outside of Ireland. It went off brilliantly and it is the forward thinking attitude that we as a league need to adapt. We will now be able to see Cork, Bohs, Sligo, Dundalk, Finn Harps, Shamrock Rovers and Pats over the next few weeks. Allowing the public to see the real quality we have in our league can only be beneficial. It is therefore vital that the players are in the best condition possible to showcase it. This is not possible playing Friday and Monday.
I must say I was amazed at Stephen Bradley’s comments on the current Shamrock Rovers team. To say they are a better team than the Michael O’Neill (MON) team that won the League was quite ridiculous. Maybe they are, time will tell, but the MON team won a league, the true test of a team. The best team wins the League – FACT- he may well win the league this year and if he does then he will be in a position to compare his team with any other Rovers team.
The current team may be better than many other teams past and present, if judgement was on the standard of football they play – which is outstanding. But playing lovely football is not the sign of a great team; teams are judged by the number of leagues they win. Trying to win a league is not the same as trying to win a beauty contest. The prettiest team does not always win – the best team wins.