It says in the papers and on the podcast - Ophelia drops, Cork finally pop as league crops up in unexpected places

Wed, Oct 18 2017

Cork fans celebrate with manager John Caulfield after winning their first title in 12 years. Credit: Michael P Ryan (ETPhotos)

Hamlet, the prince of Denmark, was something of a theme in Irish football this week and not just because of the senior international team’s World Cup play-off draw.


In addition to having a stormy girlfriend called Ophelia, the Shakespearean character is famous for failing to decisively claim his title.


Thankfully, for Cork City fans, and everyone really, the Leesiders were finally able to break out the celebratory cigars following their nil-all draw with Derry City on Tuesday.



That game had looked like being postponed following damage to the Derrynane Road Stand in Turner’s Cross, an event that dominated the Irish Independent’s back page and even featured on Sky Sports News.


Cork had looked like they were going to ascend the throne last Friday. John Caulfield’s side had been drawing away to Bohemians while ten-man Bray were defying the odds away to Dundalk.


However, in true #greatestleagueintheworld style, Michael Duffy’s 87th minute winner for the Lilywhites ensured that 'Oriel boys delay party,' as the Daily Star match report from El Paso was captioned the following morning.


Bearing the headline 'Rebels with a pause,' Paul Lennon’s despatch from Dalyer in the same paper, made the interesting point that City have never done “comfortable Premier Division title victories.”


Their previous wins have required either two rounds of play-offs, in 1993, or a final day result, in 2005.


Lennon might also have mentioned Cork’s other final day melodramas: clinching the First Division from Shels in 2012, losing the Premier to Dundalk, at home in 1991, and away in 2014.


This last game in Oriel, added to City’s two other second place finishes in the intervening couple of years, plus the fact that Robbie Benson’s 87th minute equaliser eighteen days earlier had delayed one of Cork’s several previous parties, justified the negativity about City’s performance in Phibsboro displayed by the sub-headings in the Star.


These included the phrases “Caulfield’s men miss chance” and “title celebrations elude Cork once again.”


A more vivid and honest take on evening’s drama than the plodding, if mathematically correct, headline in the Irish Times: “Cork one point away from glory”.


Speaking of the “newspaper of record”, last weekend’s edition also saw the LOI make an appearance in the unlikeliest of quarters: Malachy Clerkin’s article on the Louth county final.



To his credit, Clerkin’s piece contained some interesting reflections on the balance of power between proper football and Gaelic games in urban areas without sliding into the type of ‘Grab All Association’ cleptomania that often characterises such articles.


From our point of view, we can congratulate the football people of Drogheda and Dundalk on a job well done.


While seeing Irish professional football referenced in an Irish Times GAA feature was something of a pleasant surprise, seeing it ignored in a piece on European club football and smaller nations in last Thursday’s edition was neither pleasant nor, sadly, surprising.


In an article on FC Barcelona and Catalan independence, Richard Fitzpatrick (an Irish journalist living in Spain) bizarrely referenced dubious parallels such as the Catalans Dragons Rugby League side and Canadian basketball teams but failed to mention our own Derry City.



Fitzpatrick also cited the cases of Swansea City and Monaco but seemed entirely unaware of UEFA’s rules and regulations concerning national teams and domestic leagues.


The confederation was only mentioned elliptically in the article and none of the examples provided involved a club from one UEFA member with a functioning domestic league crossing an international boundary to play in the domestic league of another UEFA member – as Barca may have to do if Catalonia becomes independent, and as the Candystripes do currently.


Perhaps the real question from an Irish point of view, though, is not where Barcelona end up playing their football but whether or not the Catalan giants’ situation might cause UEFA to change its rules altogether. Thus opening the door to an all-Ireland, or even a Celtic, league. Over to you Emmet Malone!


Lastly no League of Ireland media review this week would be complete without a mention of two excellent interviews produced by the online platforms.


The LOI Weekly podcast featured a heart-rending interview with Shamrock Rovers midfielder Paul Corry, who has recently retired through injury, while another retiree with a Shamrock Rovers connection, Coleraine striker Gary Twigg, spoke to the42.ie.



Both players dealt frankly with the ups and downs of being a professional footballer, each describing the challenges presented by long-term injuries and the difficulties in dealing with different managers.



Although their retired status undoubtedly allowed both interviewees to be more candid than they would have been had they still been playing, credit is due to them and to the journalists involved for producing such high quality LOI content.


They did the game some service.