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The night it rained goals in the League of Ireland

 

It was fitting that it rained goals on Friday 16 August 2019 in the SSE Airtricity League. The showers earlier in the day had been of the heavy summer variety, where it can be sunny one moment then showery the next in a sudden short burst of torrential rain that leaves a small river flowing down your road.

These showers though, heavy as they were, paled in comparison to the kind that had been seen at Woodstock exactly 50 years before, to the day. Back then 16 August had fallen on a Saturday, and round about the time the SSE games kicked off in Ireland on 16 August 2019 you would have had Canned Heat coming on stage back on 16 August 1969 in America[‘Going Up The Country’ and ‘On The Road Again’ were 2 of the songs they played; they could almost be football chants rather than hippy anthems!].

I was in the Carlisle Grounds and the heavy showers had drained quickly through the famous cinder-and-ash-bed pitch, leaving a decent surface for the game. Bray were hosting Cobh Ramblers and a friend of mine was visiting from England, complete with his sons and nephews. I hoped for a decent game so that they’d go home with a good impression of the Airtricity League.

My hopes were certainly answered. The match was an entertaining and thrilling one. Some decent football was played by both sides. Six goals were scored, starting with a Cobh penalty and ending with a thrilling late equalizer from Hughie Douglas to give Bray a deserved point, with an amazing Cobh volleyed goal one of the four sandwiched in between. There was a memorable debut for Andrew Moran, coming on to become Bray’s youngest-ever player at 15 years and 307 days.

The sun was shining during the match, despite the earlier deluge. My friend, who lives in Coventry, got some decent action shots on his camera [he’s an IT guy by day and photographer of football matches and music gigs in his spare time] and got to meet Dara O’Briain who was at the game [‘’The last time I saw him I had to pay in!”]. His sons and nephews were delighted with the free lollipops the Bray mascot was handing out. If bribery works, go for it!

Further up the coast in Drogheda the First Division had seen another six-goal game, with all the scores going to the hosts against bottom side Wexford FC. That win, which kept the pressure on Shelbourne for the automatic promotion spot [at least until Shelbourne beat Longford the following night], wasn’t even the biggest win of the night; DalymountPark had seen Bohemians run riot against UCD in the Premier Division, putting 10 past the students and teaching them a lesson in finishing.

In all the night saw 39 goals across 9 games; add in the brace Shelbourne scored in Longford on the Saturday and that made an average of 4.1 goals-per-game across the weekend’s 10 matches. Great valuefor money. The Premier Division had 24 goals in its 5 games, an average of 4.8 per game that is exactly twice the rate it has seen over the season so far [330 goals in 139 games for a per-game rate of 2.4]. The First Division had 17 goals across the 5 weekend games, bringing its total to 334 for the season [with 119 games played, that’s 2.8 per game].

So the SSE Airtricity League fans went home well fed with goals on Friday night. 50 years before in Woodstock, Canned Heat were finished and The Grateful Dead were coming on stage. I believe they exceeded their allotted 90 minutes and played ‘extra time’ that lasted all night!

Brian Quigley

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