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Spicing up the League of Ireland First Division


There were huge crowds milling around Drumcondra as Blaise and myself walked down to Tolka Park on Friday to watch Shelbourne take on Cobh Ramblers. Blaise was initially impressed with the volume of the Cobh travelling support, until I pointed out that the crowds were for Croke Park, not Tolka Park.

The Spice Girls didn’t ring any bells with him. He takes his musical cues from me so knows all about even-older acts than Scary, Sporty & Co. He’s well-versed in Madness, REM and David Bowie. I don’t have any Spice Girls in my collection though.

The crowds would have been better off going into Tolka than Croker, by all accounts. From what I’ve heard anecdotally and read online, the gig was a poor one, with botched sound and a few other hitches and glitches. Perhaps they’d have done better with holograms; they could have even included Victoria then. Perhaps too the concert and the game could have swapped venues; the PA sound in Tolka was just fine.

Things may not have gone according to plan in Croker but all went well at Tolka. Shels got by Cobh, albeit narrowly, thanks to Ryan Brennan’s first-half goal. Limerick beat Cabinteely to complete a sequence of results that elevated Shels to the top of the charts [footballing rather than musical].

The top four in the First Division all moved places after the weekend’s results; a bit of musical chairs going on for sure, or snakes and ladders. Defeat saw Cabinteely moved off the top and there was no soft landing in second or third spot; they went all the way down the snake to fourth.

Such is the competition in the top six of this division that Bray’s win over Wexford – their third in three league games – wasn’t sufficient to move them into the play-off spots; they were a non-mover at number five, as were Limerick at six, to continue the musical parlance.

Now that Shelbourne have hit the front, will they be able to pull ahead and stay in pole position? There’s a long way to go, and Longford, Drogheda, Limerick and Bray will all see the automatic promotion spot as rightfully theirs too. Can Cabinteely come back after recent setbacks, and get on another run? A play-off spot must surely be their minimum target.

The First Division season is certainly giving value for money so far.

Brian Quigley

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