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Eamon Dunphy’s thoughts on the League of Ireland

On Wednesday, 8th of June, prior to the start of Euro 2016, 2FM’s sports show, Game On, was broadcast live from the Aviva Stadium in front of an audience of a few hundred Irish fans. Joining the usual presenters, Hugh Cahill and Alan Cawley, were Eamon Dunphy, Paul McGrath, Ciarán Whelan, Ruby Walsh and Áine O’Gorman.

During the show, I had the opportunity to ask the panel a question concerning the League of Ireland contingent in the Irish squad for Euro 2016 and whether the FAI could do more to increase the number of potential future internationals coming from the League of Ireland. I pointed out that 8 of the 23 players named in the Euro 2016 squad have started their careers in the League of Ireland. Alan Cawley was in agreement that the FAI should be doing more for the league, citing the financial difficulties being experienced by Athlone and Waterford recently, giving examples of the poor facilities found at most grounds around the country, and complaining about the general lack of marketing of the league to get bigger crowds attending games.

Eamon Dunphy was next to respond to my question and give his general opinion on the league. His answer, like many in the media, was not to think of ideas or create solutions to improve the league in the hope of developing future internationals, but to instead complain about the poor standard on offer at present and to ask why anyone would bother going to a game when the Premiership and Champions League is on television. When it was thrown back to him that football fans in this country might actually enjoy going to live football matches to watch their local League of Ireland team playing, and in turn support the grassroots of the Irish game, he had no comeback.

A rather glaring contradiction of Dunphy’s is the fact that he has often championed the skills and ability of Wes Hoolahan in the Irish team, but does he know where Hoolahan came from? Does he know that Hoolahan played League of Ireland football up until he was 24 before leaving for the UK? At 24, most players would have given up on their dreams of making it in a more professional league or as an international, but Hoolahan is one example of many that have used the League of Ireland as a stepping stone to moving abroad and getting called up to the international team.

The question that must be asked of Eamon Dunphy is where does he see the future generations of Irish football coming from. The traditional route of young Irish footballers moving to England or Scotland at 14, 15, 16, etc. to continue their footballing education and hoping to make it as a professional is not a likely prospect in the near future. Competition in UK academies is ever-increasing as clubs nowadays have a global scouting network with massive finances allowing them to pick the best from around the world. To their credit, the FAI in recent years, with the help of Ruud Dokter, have created national leagues for U17 and U19 League of Ireland clubs, with an U15 league in the pipeline. Teams from areas such as Kerry, Cavan/Monaghan and Salthill Devon have entered teams, which is an encouraging start, as some of these areas wouldn’t have had a League of Ireland club in the past. Further, the FAI on their recent Snapchat account had photos of the 8 former League of Ireland players in their club jerseys. Roy Keane, in a press conference shortly after, spoke about what a nice touch the photos were and how he was always thankful and appreciative of his time with Cobh Ramblers. All of these are helpful ideas or gestures that can promote our league, but these should only be the start.

However, if a senior figure in the print, radio and television media such as Eamon Dunphy criticises the League like he has and gets plenty of attention for it, what hope have we got, as fans, when trying to sell, market and promote our national league to people that haven’t followed it before?

Image Credit: Youtube

Author: Ulick O’Sullivan

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6 thoughts on “Eamon Dunphy’s thoughts on the League of Ireland

  1. The FAI are missing a great opportunity to mareturn the league. Not only the 8 players but Keane himself and Michael O Neill all earned their stripes in our league. Unfortunately the LoI is an embarrassment to the FAI.

  2. The above mentioned players did not start their careers at these League of Ireland clubs they started their careers at schoolboy clubs where they were coached and grounded, they certainly did not get their skills enhanced or improved by coaching at League of Ireland clubs – toughened up maybe not coached.
    Until the FAI invest serious finance in the game properly (example Iceland Kazjackistan) here at schoolboy and League of Ireland level we will still be in the same mess in 20 years time.

  3. It’s ironic – but hardly surprising – that Dunphy would hold such a view. After Ireland’s defeat to Belgium the other night, Dunphy heavily criticised the culture of the Irish national team, who apparently suffer from poor levels of concentration. Dunphy then proceeded to portray his view that such does not exist amongst other elite Irish sporting teams. In his opinion, this laid-back culture comes from England where all of our players play. It has become embedded in their minds over time, he argued. However, despite a long-winded emotional rant, he effectively concluded by mumbling that there was nothing that could be done about this perceived foreign culture in Irish soccer. He had ranted on and on about this, implying heavily that something drastic had to be done, but, at the end, had no projected plan – no solution whatsoever… Unfortunately, the idea of investing money towards developing at least some of our talents within Ireland was seemingly all too much for Eamonn.

  4. Mr Dump or should I say Dumpy probably hasn’t been to a L O I match in maybe 25 30 years , of course he is correct on many aspects of the League however makes no mention of progress made by clubs like Dundalk Cork Rovers etc , so a very blinkered view as we might expect from him

  5. How could anyone take this idiot seriously?
    If you extend his “logic” to English football generally, 72 league clubs and hundreds of non-league clubs have no validity.
    The only Irish international team that he deserves a place on is the Boring team.

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