The perfect opening weekend to kick start the 2017 League of Ireland as we seen 23 goals over 10 games, a debut hat trick, 4 red cards and just over 17 thousand fans across the country.
We also seen the 2 newly promoted sides picking up opening day wins and it’s the first time that no Dublin club picked up a point in the opening round of fixtures in the top flight. Dundalk and Cork City earn hard fought opening day wins as expected.
Here’s what we learned this weekend.
As you were for sluggish Saints.
New season, same problems for St Patricks Athletic as they were more than second best against an energetic Bray Wanderers. In his post-match interview Liam Buckley used the word ‘awful’ in regards to his teams display and he’s spot on.
The Saints never got going and resorted to countless long balls too nobody as the midfield went hiding. When trying to play out from the back, St Pats midfield were sitting behind the Bray midfield and in turn forced Gavin Peers and Darren Dennehy to go long.
In the passing style that Buckley strives on, the midfield area could not become any more important but for debutant Alex O’Hanlon, this game was certainly a wakeup call. Lost possession numerous times, couldn’t control the ball and never got to grips with his position, he will have to show the league a little more respect.
St Pats were lucky to have only conceded twice in the 90 minutes after some calamitous defending from Michael Barker and Ian Bermingham which led to the Bray goals. Conor Kenna also had a chance cleared off the line, while Barry Murphy had to make a couple of saves. Liam Buckley must work on his backline and midfield if the Saints are to avoid been pulled in to that bottom 3 relegation scrap.
The Seagulls are flying.
An excellent performance on Friday night gave Harry Kenny the perfect start to the new season as he looks to continue his excellent record since becoming manager at the Carlisle Grounds. The retention of Dylan Connolly has proved an excellent one as his pace and skill will only frighten defenders up and down the country.
He was a menace to the St Pats rear-guard and played a key role in the first goal and the melee late on.
Bray where hungrier, smarter, cleverer than their opponents and fully deserved the 3 points. The seasiders can beat most teams on their day and a top 4 spot might just come a reality.
They seem to be adopting a similar style to that of Dundalk’s with their high intensity pressing from midfield and it worked a real treat this weekend. Certainly, one’s to watch out for.
Limerick and Derry impressive.
There’s a new Brazilian in town and his name is Rodrigo Tosi who notched a superb hat trick on his League of Ireland debut. He might not score an easier one as the Sligo Rovers backline was absolutely nowhere to be seen but he certainly stuck the ball in the net. After running away with the first division last season, all eyes were on Martin Russell side and they delivered on day one.
It could have been more had it not been for a poor penalty from Ian Turner but with an emphatic win like that, Russell won’t mind. Lee J Lynch got the goal of the game with a stunning lob over Sligo keeper Michael Schlingermann.
Derry City pulled no punches as they punished a mistake ridden Bohemians side at Dalymount Park to give Kenny Shiels the perfect start. After their excellent campaign last season, the Candystripes will be looking to break into the top 2 this season but have been dealt a blow with the injury to Rory Patterson.
They do have players like Aaron McEneff and Barry McNamee to spearhead them in his absence, while Nathan Boyle came off the bench to grab a brace. This weekend they host Limerick which is a cracking tie at Derry City temporary home of Maginn Park as both sides will feel they can win after week 1 exertions.
Every season brings you some hilarious and embarrassing decisions from the officiating in this league and this past weekend we seen good and bad. The good been Derek Tomney decision to send off both Aidan Keena and Darren Dennehy for St Pats, Paul McLoughlin decision to award Derry City a penalty with help from his assistant and Neil Doyle’s straight red card to Shamrock Rovers Graham Burkes crazy tackle on Jamie McGrath.
In the melee that ensued at Richmond Park on Friday night after Keena’s foul on Connolly, Dennehy is seen head butting Bray Wanderers Hugh Douglas who in turn retaliates with a head butt of his own but after consulting 4th official Sean Grant only Dennehy is giving his marching orders, bizarre decision. Tim Clancy who also initiates the melee by running 30 yards to punish the St Pats youngster Keena, gets away with just a booking, again bizarre decision and no consistency.
Paul McLoughlin who had earlier giving a correct decision in Derry City’s favour, then missed a stonewall penalty on Bohemians Oscar Brennan as he is clearly seen been shoved to the ground by Conor McDermott. It’s certainly a topic worth keeping an eye on.
Soccer Republic and RTE
It was just short of 5pm on Saturday evening when the final whistle blew in Cobh to signal the end of round one of the 10 League of Ireland fixtures and yet everyone had to wait until Monday night at 11.15pm to watch any highlights from any games. Albeit they do not show the first division games, going this length of time to show goals is downright embarrassing.
The show is not live and is poorly edited so why pick Monday night at 11.15pm when the majority of fans will be heading to bed for work the next day? There is no promotion for the league with this timing schedule from RTE and will not change for the foreseeable future. Sunday evening seems like a reasonable time as fans, parents and even kids are settling down after their weekend but this seems too much for the lads at RTE. It’s a topic that fans of the league will keep talking about.
Roll on Game week 2!!!