Following on from the historical result against the Germans on Thursday night, all eyes returned to the focus of the Airtricity League on Friday night and in particular the game that could see Dundalk crowned champions if the result went right for them. The team from county Louth have been miles ahead of what the rest have had to offer this season and their nearest rivals have been Cork City. In fairness the league has been over for sometime now and it only needed Dundalk to make sure mathematically that no one could catch them to become champions. They wrapped up the title on Friday night with a one all draw away at Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght Stadium.
The Airtricity League runs during the summer and right from the off, the men of Dundalk looked like they were prepared for business to win back to back championships. Manager Stephen Kenny is a man who knows how to win and tactically he prepared his squad excellently for a season that was going to be a tough one, as in every league the previous seasons champions are always there to be taken on. But in this case you have to admire the way that Stephen and his players went about their business. To win the league with three games to spare is a rarity in the Airtricity League of Ireland and it just goes to show the dedication shown by Dundalk players and staff. The title race is over but the focus now turns to the bottom of the league and the battle for survival. The bottom three are Limerick, Sligo and Drogheda United. This will go right down to the wire and at this stage with three games to go it is to hard to call. One thing is certain, nobody wants to drop into Division One, the difference between the two leagues is unbelievable. The club that drops out of the league will have to make many cutbacks because the money in the Premier League is tight,but in Division One it is non existent.
Actually in Division One the league is wrapped up as well, and Wexford Youths have been crowned champions. This league is rarely ever mentioned in the media as it only consists of eight teams, that statement pretty much sums up that league. I really feel the time for change has come in the Airtricity League.
A few years back the league changed to summer soccer so as to try and give the teams a chance when competing in European football. It worked for a while, but since then, gates have suffered and standards have dropped. I feel we need to go back to a traditional season and I am sure the gates will improve and with that the standards will also rise, because there will be more money in the game. It is something the FAI need to sit down and really consider, after all this is the top league in our country and apart from the football fans on the island of Ireland not a lot of people know much about it.
There is a golden opportunity on November 8th to put the league right into the shop window, as the FAI Cup Final will be held in the Aviva Stadium between Dundalk and Cork. These two clubs have been the best and most consistent and if I was lucky to be on the organizing committee for that game I would promote it to the world. What is required on the day is a super game with wall to wall coverage in the media, it is something I do not think the FAI are capable of.
To be perfectly honest with you, in my opinion I think the boys in suits would struggle to organize a drinks party in Guinness’s.