A late Simon Madden goal earned Shamrock Rovers a slender victory over Northern Ireland Premiership side Cliftonville in Sunday’s friendly ...Sun, Feb 19 2017
Losing is the new winning in the League of Ireland and business, for once, is good.
Fresh from their win over BATE Borisov to become the first Irish side to reach the play-off round of the Champions League since the competition was re-figured, Stephen Kenny's side lost away at Galway United on Friday night.
The Lilywhites, sitting six points and change ahead of second-placed Cork City, fell behind on the stroke of half-time when Paddy Barrett lost his footing and Vinny Faherty lost his man to glance past Gary Rogers.
The large travelling support was lost for words when referee Derek Tomney failed to award a second-half penalty when Ciaran Kilduff lost his footing under a gentle tickling from Galway keeper Conor Winn.
“I think it was the holy ghost that blew him over,” quipped the always-entertaining Brian Kerr, and the Tribesman held on for that most unfashionable of outcomes – a win.
Not to be outdone, City started with a defeat to Racing Genk in the Europa League and followed it up with another loss at home to Sligo Rovers, losing theri chance to narrow the gap with the league leaders.
The FAI, having begun the week in triumphant form with a press release announcing they'd pulled from their €11 million Euro 2016 war chest a gift of Twenty Big Ones for each club - €20 a week, that is – ended on the defensive as Derry City and St Patrick's Athletic lost their collective cool.
The much-vaunted Premier Club Alliance, formed as a means of collective action on behalf of league clubs, lost the “alliance” element of its name as the two sides publicly stated they wouldn't accept the donation while others said the opposite.
Derry chief executive Sean Barrett lost perspective, for good measure, describing the offer of free money as “disgraceful,” a sentiment lost on FAI Director of Communications Ian Mallon, who described Pats' refusal as “astonishing.”
On the surface, Derry have the most to lose from their stated aim – with the post-Brexit economy the way it is, €20 a week could fund the renovation of the Brandywell, a project which seems to have stalled for the umpteenth time having been due to go ahead his summer.
Pats, by contrast, are more concerned with their losing record in the EA Sports Cup. Last year's champions must have lost faith in the aerodynamics of coins, having won their tenth straight away game in the competition to qualify for the final at the Markets Field in September.
RTÉ's Soccer Republic lost the services of the popularity magnet Peter Collins to the channel's Olympics coverage, meaning a rare outing in the host's chair for Tony O'Donoghue, who in turn lost his seat in the press box for City's loss at the Cross.
It also lost its prime time slot of 11.05pm-ish, moving back to 11.40 to accommodate some of the aforementioned Olympics, the nation yawning in unison as they endured the powerlifting heats while awaiting the arrival of the true heavyweights.
Brian Kerr duly lost his cool when League Director Fran Gavin appeared on the show to discuss the merits of the aforementioned Twenty Big Ones, while Gavin lost reason and rhyme while claiming credit for the FAI for Dundalk's European success.
The biggest loss of all, however, was the fact an all-too-rare opportunity for supporters of domestic football and the ruling association to debate issues that matter for the league was buried at 12.30 in the morning.
Those lucky enough to stay up past midnight – or perhaps unfortunate to have lost employment – witnessed a discussion that was high on emotion from Kerr and fellow panellist Stuey Byrne but devoid of any real insight.
Gavin stuck firmly and professionally to the line dealt out in the association's press releases, and championed its work in forcing clubs to clean up their balance sheets, but said little to suggest this or any other donation can provide a path forward for the league.
As ever, the greatest loss is those who care most deeply about the League of Ireland and the danger is, should a clear way forward fail to materialise, their support will follow that of past generations and be lost for good.
FROM THE ECHO CHAMBER
Not the best way for me to find this out ???????? https://t.co/8fGtlsvREo— Brian Gartland (@B_Garts) August 7, 2016
Brian Kerr going in on this fai dude ????????— Rory Patterson (@roryp84) August 8, 2016
PA in Sligo - "the match sponsor owns the hardware store in Ballymote, in fact most of Ballymote" #greatestleagueintheworld— Kevin McDaid (@mariborkev) July 29, 2016
IN THE NEWS
Bohemians confirmed the sale of winger Ayman Ben Mohamed to Tunisian side Espérance Sportive de Tunis.
The draw for the final stages of the Enda McGuill Under-19 Cup was made.
Drogheda United announced the signing of Chris Lyons follow his release from Sligo Rovers.
Sligo Rovers signed French striker and Greek mythology enthusiast Achille Campion.
Dundalk's Champions League play-off opponents were confirmed as Polish champions Legia Warsaw, and the home tie scheduled for the Aviva Stadium.
Cormac Raftery became the latest departure in Galway United's squad shake-up.
Former Athlone Town and Limerick CEO John O'Sullivan joined Gareth O'Reilly and Macdara Ferris for the ET Sportcast, while we had all the reaction to Dundalk's 3-0 win over BATE in Tallaght.
Former Shamrock Rovers midfielder and FAI Development Officer Stephen Rice spoke to Ferdia Fallon Verburggen about the “Future Developers” program.
And Nothern Ireland's Marty McCann told Ferdia about the IFA's work at the Macron Cup in Galway.
Macdara Ferris spoke to Dundalk's Champions League hero David McMillan following his brace in Tallaght.
And Lilywhites captain Stephen O'Donnell told Macdara about “the greatest night of our careers.”
Dave Donnelly had reaction from Stephen Kenny on a magnificent night for the talent in the League of Ireland.