Young hearts be free........
by, 29/10/2010 at 8:25 PM (1438 Views)
Tomorrow night sees the culmination of the 2010 Airtricity First Division and all being well it will end with a Derry player picking up the trophy. It appears a far cry from last Friday night in the Social Club, never mind the first game of the season.
There was a very sombre mood last week, as many fans believed that City had blown their cushion and would head to Monaghan with at best, a one point margin. The feeling was “here we go again” as the spectre of Athlone and Cork loomed large in the memory. In a certain way the players were somewhat sheltered from that, as many of them are too young to remember the emotion trauma of those occasions. If you are a fan however, you’ll never forget those games.
Come Saturday night thought, it was party time. We were at home watching the International Rules and I was checking livescore every so often on the phone. When Monaghan equalised to make it 1-1 I assumed that the chance was gone. To be fair to me da, he kept saying that he was happier that Mervue had scored as it showed they could. However, no one could have believed the goal that handed City promotion in the end. If you haven’t seen it, check it out here Talk about a gift! Final whistle and all roads led to the Social Club. It was an absolutely cracking night, to the extent that I was barely recovered come the Monday evening of the bank holiday.
The week’s build up to Monaghan has meant plenty of time for reflection on the season. It’s been quite a journey from the huge turnout and opening draw to Cork, all the way to the huge crowd and draw at home to Harps last week. Along the way, we’ve seen City score for fun and then be unable to buy a winfor a few weeks. We seen bookies pay out early and then City move from odds on favourites to the outsiders for the League title.
I’ve been fortunate to get to the vast majority of games this season, despite working in Dublin. I missed one away game all year, away to Mervue and only a smattering of home games. Early in the season I was keeping a track on the miles travelled watching Derry this season but with only one game in Dublin this season I’d dread to think what my total miles watching League of Ireland football this season.
I’ve seen some great performances and seen games which would make you tear your hair out. In the opening weeks of the season we lost away in Waterford and my final analysis on the radio was very downbeat. Waterford, one of the pre-season favourites appeared better than us all over the field and more crucially, they appeared hungered. The same side then went on an unbelievable run, steamrolling all in front of them. At that stage it looked as if the League would be over weeks before the end.
The Cups, usually a happy hunting ground for City no matter how poor their League form weren’t so easy for the Candystripes. Having dispatched Harps in the League Cup, Rovers beat Derry in the Brandywell in the nextr round. City struggled against Bray in the Brandywell in the FAI Cup, relying on a late Vinny Sweeney equaliser to force an equaliser. Defensive kamikaze by City in the Carlisle Grounds meant that no even a wonder strike by Patrick McEleney could keep City in the cup. This was the start of the “wobble” as City slumped following the mid season break. Battered by Finn Harps at Finn Park, City scrapped for a few points in August and September as the lead shrank and form deserted us. A vital three points in Limerick keep the Mons from the door, but it was far from certain at this stage.
Indeed for a time it appeared certain that City were going to throw away the League. They lost the top spot and it appeared Monaghan were in the driving seat. I’d say when we were well clear that if we didn’t win the League we wouldn’t be in the playoffs as it would have meant that we’d have collapsed completely. It looked for a while as if that was going to happen.
But that’s the beauty of football. A crazy goal such as that Mervue one and immediately you’re on top of the world. I don’t think I could have handled another final day showdown. As it stands, we can go to Bray and have a party. An entire generation of City fans will see their side win a League. Cups and European runs are great, but a League is a different.
A few of us were determined to enjoy the season and we decided that with this being the “Discover Ireland” we have tired at least one overnight in every location. We’ve had great nights(Limerick), ****e nights(Wexford), mad nights(Galway) and generally had a ball. Yes, it’s easy to enough yourself when your sides winning but still. As we were memorably told a few weeks back “Youse won 5-1, cheer up”. The lot of an League of Ireland fan is not that of easy one, as even in the cosy glow of victory you are always expecting the next disaster to befall.
We’ll never have a season like this again. One game in Dublin the entire year, and what was probably one of our best performances to deny our old rivals with a late late 2-1 win. I checked myself out of hospital to get to that one, but it was worth it and more to get one over them in the last minute. Trips to the like of Drom and Ferrycarraig have been a pleasant change from what felt like the fortnightly games against a Dublin side(which is great if you live in Dublin, less so when you don’t). We scored five, six and seven in games this season. We’ve beaten Shels, three times. We’ve seen an entire side emerge from the car crash of last season. Players such as James McClean, Patrick McEleney, Ruairi Harkin and the like have become the new stars of the Brandywell. Would have seen their likes if Stephen hadn’t been forced to start from scratch again?
So get along to Monaghan tomorrow and enjoy it. Don’t worry about performances or points. We’re going up, we’ll be League Champions and that is an occasion worth celebrating. Did I think in 97 that I’d be waiting till now to celebrate another League title? Never. So wherever you are in the world, crack open your tipple of choice and drink it up.
We’re finishing our season with another overnight and the Champagne has been stockpiled. All season we’ve been revelling in an 80s theme, and this wee beaut for the last game of the season
I’ll be back midweek-ish for a bit of post match reaction…….
Total Trackbacks 0