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    by Published on 30/04/2013 10:07 PM

    I attended the Soccerex European Forum in Manchester in April and hope to bring you a series of pieces on some of the takeways for the Irish game from the week.

    Gianni Infantino, UEFA General Secretary, revealed at the conference that UEFA had agreed a deal with the European Broadcasting Union (“EBU”) for the televised rights for the Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018 qualifiers. Interesting, but what is the relevance for Irish football fans?

    RTÉ is one of over thirty national broadcasters which form part of the EBU and therefore this means that games will remain on free to air television in Ireland for the foreseeable future. The broadcaster was keen to publicise the fact, with an article appearing on their website that evening. The main quote, in the article and repeated elsewhere in the media coverage which followed came from Ryle Nugent, Head of Sport.
    ...
    by Published on 26/08/2012 12:52 AM

    With the league due to start tomorrow there’s a disquieting air of uncertainty around the future of Terenure 3rds. This will by my sixth season with the club and most of the previous five have centred on the same squad, there has always been a core of reliable old heads that could be counted on every ...
    by Published on 14/08/2011 2:36 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Northern Ireland

    In comic book parlance, managers are sheep-skin wearing, centre-halfs beefy, and wingers tricky customers who go on mazy runs. In modern professional football it can seem that garish, quaint cartoon stereotypes have little place; modern wingers are expected to defend as much as they attack and to play it safe rather than rampaging wildly down the flanks. Football is a much more considered, a much more serious, and a much more controlled environment that it’s brightly coloured stuff-of-myth counterpart.

    Which is why it’s such a thrill to see a player who can cope with those demands while also exhalting in the sheer thrill of maurauding up and down (well, mainly just up) a touchline, making for terrified full-backs like a runaway train manned by a frighteningly serene driver, the ball all the while magnetically attached to his feet.

    Paddy McCourt’s two goals for Northern Ireland last night were the stuff of footballing dreams. The first, itself a quality finish from a tight angle after some great running into a dangerous area, was overshadowed by the second, a master-class in intricate, close control, in balance, skill and perfect technique.
    ...
    by Published on 21/07/2011 11:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Europe

    When it came, it came quickly.

    In the space of a couple of years, Irish club sides went from being perennial whipping boys in European competition to competing – and beating – the best that Sweden had to offer.


    I’ve been based in Stockholm for over twelve years now, moving from a dark, damp Dalymount to the terraces of Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium and Råsunda in 1999. In the beginning the Swedes were miles ahead. The year I moved here AIK faced Arsenal, Barcelona and Fiorentina in the Champions League group stage. Our nearest effort was a brave Shels side that made money, friends and no little progress, but ultimately came up short.
    ...
    by Published on 15/07/2011 10:50 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. League of Ireland

    Shamrock Rovers supporter’s clubs have announced a boycott of all Bohemians merchandise and goods amid concerns over the threat their club faces faces from the Dalymount outfit.

    The action follows closely on the heels of similarly effective action at Derry City last week, when hundreds of Hoops fans forsook the pleasure of a nine hour round trip to the North to make the arduous journey to their nearest television instead.

    A statement posted on the club’s website states: ‘It is with great regret that the various Shamrock Rovers supporters groups have decided to cancel all orders for Bohemians merchandise. This unprecedented measure has been taken because of genuine fears for the safety of Shamrock Rovers’ league position, the potential damage to hired players and the frontline risks involved for our coach.’
    ...
    by Published on 10/07/2011 5:00 PM

    The Half-time Oranges Order Troupe (HOOT) today welcomed Northern Ireland’s newest international footballer, Alex de Bruce. A spokeswoman for the HOOT, Lady Iris Robyerson, said: “Mr de Bruce is a true Ulsterman with roots in the mainland, who has fought to free himself from the chains of serfdom that has bound him to makey-uppy countries for too long. We look forward to receiving him into our bosom, erm, football team. My Gaaawwd, but he’s a fine, fit piece of Ulster manhood.”
    In honour of the greatest victory since the Boyne, the HOOT has issued a modern version of a timeless classic, to be sung at half-time at Our Wee Country matches:
    ...
    by Published on 11/06/2011 12:02 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. Europe

    His name is Gianni Infantino, an Italian who is currently the General-Secretary of UEFA, and even with stiff competition from the likes of Pierluigi Colina and James Richardson, he is undoubtedly my favourite bald man of football.

    Let me explain.

    Last month I attended the Europa League Final in the revamped Lansdowne Road stadium (or the ‘Dublin Arena’ as it was referred to on the night). Joining me were my girlfriend and a fellow Dundalk FC fan. As kick off approached it dawned on us that we were probably the only three people at the final that night who had also been at one of the tournament’s very first games.
    ...
    by Published on 27/05/2011 9:55 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. League of Ireland

    Wearing my Derry City shirt over here in England I do get the odd, er…odd look. I’ve been mistaken for a Stoke City, a Sunderland, and an Inter Milan fan, among others on occasion (home, home, and away kits respectively). We play ‘jumpers-for-goalposts’ (or Finn Harps) level football in the park at the weekend and while it can be a great way of breaking the ice with people, everyone spent last weekend asking me how I felt about losing the FA Cup to Manchester City.

    Sadly, it’s the same when I’m home in Ireland. That said, spotting another LOI-coloured fan is always nice. It’s a Friday night and you’re walking down Grafton Street on the way to a game, when a girl in a Shels top walks past. For just a brief second, among the shop assistants on their way home, the office workers going for a pint, the tourists, and the Ladbrokes sign advertising odds for the nights Blue Square League matches you share a kind of mutually acknowledged respect- we are LOI fans on our way to see our teams play.
    ...
    by Published on 16/05/2011 10:12 AM
    1. Categories:
    2. League of Ireland

    Both sides of Manchester will be celebrating this weekend as both United and City clinched the top prizes in English domestic football. For them and, indeed, all British clubs, players and fans, it's almost time for a well-earned breather before the pre-season matches, transfer speculation and season 2011-12 preparations get fully underway in July.

    On this side of the water through, we're just into a dozen games into the season with plenty to come, not least the inevitable trials and tribulations of the Champions League and Europa League campaigns. There's plenty to look forward to over the coming months and it would seem to be the perfect time for the league's marketing department (I assume we have one) to be pushing it's benefits to those who face the next few months bereft of their weekly football dose.
    ...
    by Published on 26/04/2011 12:22 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. League of Ireland

    We’ve all heard it; like a particularly tone-dead, annoying, half-witted cuckoo heralding the Spring, it recurs with depressing regularity, often around this time of the year as the Premiership season nears it’s conclusion.

    Yes, it’s that hoary old chestnut, “I don’t go to League of Ireland games because the fans are too cliquey and they won’t make someone outside their gang feel welcome.” League of Ireland fans “look down from a self-appointed pedestal,” denigrating those foolhardy enough to intrude on their private functions. That latter quote is from an actual ‘journalist’ by the way- no name put to it, oddly enough.
    ...
    by Published on 21/04/2011 6:29 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. League of Ireland

    Occasionally, just occasionally, I regret being a League of Ireland fan. It can be downright torture. Most people living in Dublin recognise the infamous rivalry between Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers, even if they have little interest in the League. Bohs-Rovers derbies are greeted by certain tabloid newspapers as the coming of the apocalypse in sporting terms. When violence rears its head on these occasions, it receives blanket coverage. You try to hold your head up as people quiz you about the ‘animals’ that frequent games, or what would possess you to sit (or stand) in the same ground as them for ninety minutes plus. Never mind that the accusations themselves can be carried out with about as little dignity as the alleged acts themselves.

    When TV3 screened a documentary on Green Street-style violence in Irish football, the sheer amateurism and inanity of its presentation was met with derision by League of Ireland fans. I can’t pretend to support the inane ramblings of fifteen-year-olds seeking a post-match fracas on Bebo, but the overall feeling that I was left with was contempt – for TV3’s commissioning editors. Screenshots of Bebo and indiscriminate footage of people running does not make a convincing argument for Irish people to live in fear of the League (it doesn’t even make a convincing argument for the filmmakers to call themselves ‘journalists’).
    ...
    by Published on 13/04/2011 2:31 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. League of Ireland

    The news that wacky Egyptian Mohammad Al Fayad has unveiled a statue of fellow fruit and nut (and now deceased) Michael Jackson has been greeted with a disappointing silence from League of Ireland clubs.

    The nuttier-than-a-squirrel’s-lunchbox ex-owner of Harrod’s announced the tribute last week hoping that, “that Fulham fans will appreciate seeing the finest performer in the world, in and amongst them, the finest fans in the world.”

    If nothing else Al Fayad’s hair-brained scheme has set an example that League of Ireland clubs should take note of- that of non-football related statues outside football grounds- if anything screams Cork City more than a bronze likeness of Graham Norton in the act of telling a naughty joke, We Play On Fridays has yet to see it. And surely someone in Derry should be checking if Nell McAndrews is available to pose nude for a cast to be placed outside the ground, an act that would surely put the ‘Lone’ in Lonemore Road.
    ...
    by Published on 22/02/2011 8:53 AM

    In what hopefully will be the first in a recurring series, I’ll be taking a look at the best of what’s out there in the blogsphere for the football fan.

    In Bed with Maradona

    In Bed With Maradona, or IBWM as it is also known as, has become a firm favourite of mine. The Guardian ...
    by Published on 05/01/2011 10:00 PM

    Gods and Mortal, Paul Keane, 2010

    This book reminded me of the classic League of Ireland European trips. Tall tales, great stories, heroic losses and the feeling that in the end it was over all too soon and you are really looking forward to the next one.

    The book is presented in a one game, one chapter linear format which suits the very nature of the games as occasions in the history of the club. There has been plenty of debate on internet forums about other games that may have justified inclusion and it may provide material for a topic that surely deserves a second volume.

    For keen League of Ireland watchers it may appear as if this book seeks to combine and rehash stories which many are very familiar with but the plethora of anecdotes and quotes from those involved, backed up with little details you may have long forgotten serve to ensure that the pages keep on turning on this one. The fact that the games stretch over six decades mean that there are games to interest fans of varying vintages and this helps to broaden the appeal. ...
    by Published on 07/12/2010 12:27 PM
    1. Categories:
    2. League of Ireland

    I haven't found time to articulate my feelings on the lunancy of a return of winter football but as I look out on what used to be a garden, covered in snow for the guts of ten days now it seems an apt time to get something down on it.

    As with most serious items in the League of Ireland, the news of a possible return came first from whispers, then rumours and finally a few carefully leaked press articles where if you can accurately read between the lines you can nearly work out which club official the journalist was talking to. The Daily Mail was the first paper to explicitly state that a return to winter football was on the table as an options(along with the normal deck chair rearranging of changing the number of sides in the top flight).
    ...

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