This weekend coming will see match day 17 taking place in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division [actually match day 18 for Bray Wanderers and Shamrock Rovers, due to a rearranged fixture necessitated by Rovers’ European schedule] and this will herald in the mid-season break. The half-way point. So how are your team doing ‘at the turn’?
‘The turn’ is a term I’m familiar with from watching swimming in the Olympics. The pool is 50 meters long so unless you’re doing the 50 meter race [‘splash and dash’ is another name for this clash of the speed merchants of the pool] you get to turn and get back into your rhythm for the next stretch.
I have to say I’m very happy with how Bray have done in the first half of the season. Third place after Friday’s 2-2 draw with Sligo Rovers [courtesy of Aaron Greene and Dylan Connolly goals] with 27 points from 16 games. That made two draws last week, with the Sligo one coming three days after Tuesday’s 0-0 encounter with Drogheda. That game was the first time this season Bray have been involved in a League game with no goals [and only the second one we haven’t scored in]. Tiredness maybe? The break will be hard-earned and well-deserved.
I’m a bit disappointed this isn’t Panama. Their top-flight league is quite similar to ours [10 teams instead of 12 with four rounds of games compared to our three] and to avoid the monotony of everyone playing everyone else four times, they split the season into two halves. Everyone plays every other team home and away and the top four play semi-finals and a final for the ‘Apertura’.
They then reset the table and resume their season to play the same format for the ‘Clausura’. The league results from the ‘Apertura’ and ‘Clausura’ then get combined for the overall positions. This is a good system – it freshens up the season mid-way and there are CONCACAF Champions League places on offer for the winners of both titles. If this was Panama, Bray would have made the ‘Apertura’ semis!
Bray went on an unbelievable run in the second half of last season, hauling themselves up from relegation candidates to top six. Nobody performed better during the June – October period except Dundalk. To continue the Panama analogy, we’d have made last season’s ‘Clausura’ semis also!
The mid-season break is a good idea. The season is long so it makes sense to have a small window in there to regroup, recharge the batteries and refocus. There’s a long way to go, a lot more twists and turns to what is already proving to be an exciting season.
Dundalk host Cork this Friday. If they beat them they will go into the recess with a renewed belief that Cork can be caught. There are only 6 points separating bottom side St Patrick’s Athletic from Limerick in sixth. That’s just two wins to move from relegation to top-half. All to play for ‘at the turn’.