We have only had two weeks in the SSE Airtricity League and what a fortnight it has been. There is so much to talk about in this week,s column it is very hard to know where to start. Not only have the players been in the spotlight, but this week officials have been in the limelight but only in a positive way. The mixture of all these things makes this league of ours in Ireland tick, it brings the fans out to support their clubs and when the games are over it gives the supporters ammunition to go into deep debate in their local pubs on the way home. It always amazes me how fans can have different views on many things, such as team selection, refereeing decisions and most importantly of all their clubs results. Many of the guys will disagree on a lot of the issues, but one thing I am 100% certain of, is that they will agree they love the SSE Airtricity League no matter how good or bad things can get during a season. So what exactly did week two bring us in the Premier and First Division’s in the SSE Airtricity League, read on below and let me fill you in on the stories that caught my eye.
Once again on week two the weather played a big part in the weekends game, particularly the game in Tallaght Stadium between the home side Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians, the big Dublin Derby as it is known. It took a few pitch inspections by referee Robert Harvey to give the go ahead for the game to start. The referee was at the stadium from early in the afternoon after he had completed his days work and his pitch inspections took place as the home club requested them. These type of issues on match day can throw a referee out of his normal match day routine, but in this case there was no problem as the referee was superb. I have seen many referees struggle in games were they have been hanging around grounds with not a lot to do. Rovers won the game by a two one scoreline but it was comfortable in a white hot atmosphere inside the Tallaght Stadium. The Rovers goals came from Brandon Miele and Michael O’Connor and Bohemians responded with a late penalty converted by George Poynton. Even in the awarding of the penalty late in the game, it showed how focussed referee Robert Harvey was, as this decision was made literally five hours after he had arrived in the ground. Elsewhere there were wins for Dundalk, Bray Wanderers, Cork City and Drogheda United. The game between Derry City and Limerick was abandoned after floodlight failure in Maginn Park. It was annoying and embarrassing for the home side as they are only using the venue while their own ground is under refurbishment. Apart from the Rovers match, one game that stood out for me was the clash between Bray Wanderers and Finn Harps which ended up with goals galore, as the home side won five three. Bray have started the season very well with two wins and are a bit of a suprise package, but in fairness they had a good finish to last season and manager Harry Kenny can only be delighted with their start to this one, although he was very annoyed to concede three goals. The crowd in the Carlisle Grounds were treated to a great match and I will watch over the coming weeks as to how Harry Kenny,s men react to being a favoured side.
Division One threw up a surprise result in the game between UCD and Shelbourne. It was not so much that nobody expected the home side to beat Shelbourne but it was the manner of the victory. They were four nil up at half time and I can imagine that Shel,s manager Owen Heary tore strips of paint off the walls in the dressing room during the break. Shelbourne are better than a scoreline like that and as they boarded the bus home on Friday night with a lot of anger in their belly, they know they need to do better over the coming weeks. Elsewhere around the league there were wins for Waterford, Athlone and Cobh Ramblers. Stephen Henderson saw his Cobh side win three one away in Longford, the home side would have really fancied their promotion chances at the start of the season and to lose to such a result will put a huge dent in their confidence.
So that is the second round of matches completed and I have to admit it was superb. The televised Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians was the centre piece of the weekend but there was lots going on around both leagues to be proud of. The season has started off so well we could be in for an epic couple of months ahead, one the fans I am sure will love. Until next week for another installment from the best league in the world enjoy your football no matter where you are.