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Thread: Eircom League clubs in Europe (Irish Times)

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    Post Eircom League clubs in Europe (Irish Times)

    A bit done, but there's a whole lot more to do
    Emmet Malone



    http://www.ireland.com/newspaper/spo...SP3SOCEMM.html

    On Soccer: After a summer in which Cork and Shelbourne performed well but ended up soundly beaten without making the European breakthrough they crave, the place among Uefa's top 30 leagues that Genesis identified as a goal last week looks as demanding a target as anything the consultants have set in terms of club finances or facilities.

    With the ladder based on the performance of clubs from each country over five years, the Eircom League's representatives have had to run hard to stand still this year. The performances of Shelbourne and, particularly, Bohemians in 2000 marked a turning point for teams from the Republic, and the upshot is that there are now significant numbers of points to be defended each season.

    That it was done successfully this year - with the result that the league remains in 40th spot when it faced a drop into the mid-40s - is clear evidence of a sustained improvement by Irish clubs. But the manner in which Shelbourne have been beaten over the past 14 months by Deportivo La Coruna, Lille and Steaua Bucharest, combined with the home and away defeats suffered by Cork at the hands of Slavia Prague, has underlined the gulf that still exists between our best clubs and those operating at the next level up in Europe.

    In the wake of Thursday's loss at Turner's Cross, Cork manager Damien Richardson said he felt an Irish club could be playing in the group stages of one of the European competitions within the next two seasons. Given Cork came within one round and might have come up against slightly easier opposition than Slavia, he may have a point, but a glance at the problems encountered over the past few weeks by the likes of Celtic, Everton, Leverkusen and Galatasaray, among many others, suggests much better teams than many an Irish club can struggle at this level.

    That there has been an improvement on the part of Irish sides in recent years can't be disputed. In statistical terms, in fact, it has been dramatic, with clubs from this country winning only 35 European games out of 293 prior to 2000, but more than doubling their success rate to 18 from 76 during the six seasons since.

    They have been helped by a number of factors. The introduction of preliminary rounds and the regionalisation of draws have tended to ensure National League sides face more manageable opposition in the earliest stages.

    Summer football has played a significant part in improving fitness levels, while the growing level of professionalism among players and clubs themselves has made a considerable impact.

    Shelbourne's defeat of Hajduk Split last summer and Cork's win over Djurgardens a month ago are the most significant of the successes, but progress at this level is far from uniform and it's worth remembering that Longford's performance in Carmarthen, where the FAI Cup holders lost 5-1, was the worst by an Irish side in Europe for many years.

    And the concern for Shelbourne and Cork is that, having achieved good wins over decent continental sides, they have then been comfortably beaten by sides of more proven quality. In the home match against Deportivo, Shelbourne barely created a scoring chance, while those who cling to the idea the Dubliners might have progressed if only Jason Byrne had taken his two opportunities in La Coruna overlook the fact the Spaniards peppered the Irish goal for almost the entire game.

    The 2-2 draw against Lille in Lansdowne Road was a remarkably flattering result for Pat Fenlon's side, who were handily beaten in France. This year, the leap required if an Irish team is to succeed at this level was again highlighted as the champions were easily contained in Tolka by a Steaua side that simply looked a cut above their opponents both technically and physically. Shelbourne lost in Bucharest largely because of what were uncharacteristic blunders, but it is not a coincidence that reliable players were suddenly making costly errors on a big European night.

    City, by contrast, appear to have lost to Slavia in no small part because of a misplaced faith in their ability to repeat their success in Stockholm, where a single away goal paved the way to progression.

    Beating the Czechs in the second leg always looked a tall order, but then Richardson's side, rather alarmingly, failed to win any of their three home games and managed just one victory in six outings. Shelbourne's tally in a summer widely hailed as a triumph last year was just one win in eight. These are not statistics likely to strike fear into the managers of prospective opponents, and the confidence of the Steaua's coach, Oleg Protasov, ahead of the Dublin game was barely disguised.

    Still, things are moving in the right direction and the hope is that the improvements at club level will bring further progress in European competition. The players at Cork and Shelbourne will certainly benefit from having played 24 European games between them over the past two seasons (an unthinkable number a few years ago), for at this level they are still very much learners. The Dubliners look as though they will miss out on a place in even the Uefa Cup, but it is hard to imagine them not featuring in one of the main competitions again very soon.

    In the meantime, the battle over the reshaping of the league will have a central impact on Irish fortunes in Uefa competitions.

    Assuming any move back to winter football is rejected, the ability of the league to pull off the wide-ranging reinvention the people from Genesis envisage will be the critical factor.

    The shortcomings of the last couple of years cannot be viewed in isolation. What is needed is a better league. Only then will our best stand a chance of being good enough.

    emalone@irish-times.ie

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    Very fair and well researched piece - fair dues. There is a long way to go but we are definitely going in the right direction. IMO if we can consolidate at this level for a couple of years sooner or later the breakthrough will happen
    Mick D. for Ireland!

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    It's a good article but it misses a few obvious points:

    The first, and main one, is that we do not have a significant number of coefficient points to defend for the next three years. Even if we do not repeat this years success, we've reached a level where we should be able to add to our coefficient to help the move on.

    He points to summer football and regionalisation of the draws both helping EL teams. It didn't help City this year, since regionalisation meant that our first two rounds were against teams also playing summer football. The main factor helping has simply been our switch to professional football, and putting aside the idea that we're there for the trip. It's no mystery that Longford's part-time status limited their preparation the last two seasons.

    Malone pretty much refers to Group stages as the next step up. He highlights losses by us and Shels to Slavia, Depor and Lille. This tbh isn't the next step up, it's two steps up. We've started to make the first step up already Djurgardens, Nijmegen, Hadjuk, but not all the EL clubs can be expected to do that yet.

    We've not yet reached a level where Irish teams are all seeded in the first qualifying round, but I expect us to hit that level next season, the one after at the absolute latest. Then we can start to properly focus on a more manageable path to group stages.

    An EL team will play in the Group stages of the UEFA Cup within 3 seasons IMO. The problem will be doing it regularly.

    Overall though a well thought out piece, I'm sure some will see it as overly negative, but it's pretty accurate IMO.
    Cork City: Making 'Dream Team' seem realistic since 2007.

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    Summer football did help in the sense that had it not been in place Cork would have been at a serious disadvantage when facing those teams. Fair points though.

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    Good article. Despite what Roddy says we are making progress in Europe. We have to walk before we run however. We cant simply expect qualification for the group stages until we get consistent results from all our competing clubs. Take away the longford debacles and we have been pretty consistent so far.

    Summer football has definitely helped the most though. Our victories over Polish opposition would not have happened if we were back in the old season and we were part time then. One point is that cork didnt win against djurgardens, they progressed.

    KOH

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    Emmet Malone is usually pessimistic but i suppose thats my angle as a fan. He is much better than McDermott in the Indo who just moans about the FAI every week.

    I think best chance is eL sides in Uefa Cup group stages as CL group stages will IMO require too much luck. All our predictions are based on the league improving or at minimum staying at same level. Best chance of doing well in Europe is having same teams & players in it each year but that means less competitive league...
    http://www.forastrust.ie/

    Bring back Rocketman!

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    Quote Originally Posted by tiktok
    Malone pretty much refers to Group stages as the next step up. He highlights losses by us and Shels to Slavia, Depor and Lille. This tbh isn't the next step up, it's two steps up.
    Ya I thought that was funny! To say that we are only one step away from Depor and Lille was a bit optimistic! Its teams like Slavia and Steua that are the next step up. Summer soccer hasnt given us an advantage either, its just taken away a disadvantage.
    As I say, we're just young & a bit nieve.

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    The important thing to remember is that up until a few years ago our teams were little more than cannon-fodder for pretty much every opponent we came up against in Europe. At least now there is certain standard of opposition that we are expected to beat. Finally gone are the days when participating in Europe was considered a 'holiday' for our players or, more patronisingly, a great 'learning experience'
    Ireland: Discovered!

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    "The performances of Shelbourne and, particularly, Bohemians in 2000 "
    Exactly.

    No club has improved on the achievements of Bohemians in Europe in 2000. Beating Aberdeen and Kaiserslautern is still the bench-mark which Irish clubs has to move past if we are to kid ourselves that further progress has been made in the last five years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGuy
    "The performances of Shelbourne and, particularly, Bohemians in 2000 "
    Exactly.

    No club has improved on the achievements of Bohemians in Europe in 2000. Beating Aberdeen and Kaiserslautern is still the bench-mark which Irish clubs has to move past if we are to kid ourselves that further progress has been made in the last five years.
    who was your manager then?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGuy
    "The performances of Shelbourne and, particularly, Bohemians in 2000 "
    Exactly.

    No club has improved on the achievements of Bohemians in Europe in 2000. Beating Aberdeen and Kaiserslautern is still the bench-mark which Irish clubs has to move past if we are to kid ourselves that further progress has been made in the last five years.
    Beating a scottish team is a bench mark?!! An achievement?!!The away leg in Germany was meaningless after losing 3-1 at "home". Think you're kidding yourself there pal.

    True bench-mark would be beating a Polish side home and away or Shels beating Hajduk or Cork putting out Dutch and Swedish opposition. They are genuine improvements. We wont mention Tallinn!

    KOH

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    Quote Originally Posted by NY Hoop
    Beating a scottish team is a bench mark?!! An achievement?!!The away leg in Germany was meaningless after losing 3-1 at "home". Think you're kidding yourself there pal.

    True bench-mark would be beating a Polish side home and away or Shels beating Hajduk or Cork putting out Dutch and Swedish opposition. They are genuine improvements. We wont mention Tallinn!
    Have to agree. City beet IFK Gothenburg a few years ago, but it didnt really matter as they had already put 3 past us in the first leg It did alow us to see a cool celibration by Skippy though
    As I say, we're just young & a bit nieve.

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    Yeah I'm getting a bit fed up with this "Aberdeen and Kaiserslauten" nonsense as well.

    Aberdeen sounds good because they play in the same league as two other clubs who most Irish people are familiar witha nd used to be a strong club 20 years ago. That Aberdeen team struggled severely that season in a league that is weaker (minus its top 2) than Sweden, Holland and the Czech Republic.

    Beating Kaiserlauten counts for very little when the tie was over. They were hardly devastated after it were they?

    Nothing against Bohs, I think it's a shame they won't be in Europe next year, but a bit of reality please
    Mick D. for Ireland!

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    Coach tiktok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGuy
    No club has improved on the achievements of Bohemians in Europe in 2000. Beating Aberdeen and Kaiserslautern is still the bench-mark which Irish clubs has to move past if we are to kid ourselves that further progress has been made in the last five years.
    Yawn!

    Shels have improved on those 'achievements' twice since and City once (twice if you count Inter-toto which I'm sure you won't) in progressing through two rounds of European competition.

    The Aberdeen result was great and you should rightly be applauded on it, but the Kaiserslautern result is up there with our beating CSKA Kyiv and IFK at home i.e. not worth a toss.

    I was rooting for you at the time and hoped you'd get the second goal that night, but cut out the 'setting the benchmark' stuff.
    Last edited by tiktok; 04/10/2005 at 12:18 PM.
    Cork City: Making 'Dream Team' seem realistic since 2007.

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    Biased against YOUR club pineapple stu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiktok
    cut out the 'setting the benchmark' stuff.
    In fairness, the benchmark was reaching the First Round of the UEFA Cup and going down fighting to a quality side. That was five years ago and we haven't gone any further, which is his point. We are getting there more regularly, though, which is a sign of progress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Emmet Malone
    the place among Uefa's top 30 leagues that Genesis identified as a goal last week looks as demanding a target as anything the consultants have set in terms of club finances or facilities.
    The piece is a good piece overall, though I hve to disagree with this. We're set to finish 28th in Europe this season, our highest finish for years. The top-30 place has actually never looked more possible, even before the Genesis Alleged Report comes into play.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hecko
    Yeah I'm getting a bit fed up with this "Aberdeen and Kaiserslauten" nonsense as well.

    Beating Kaiserlauten counts for very little when the tie was over. They were hardly devastated after it were they?
    Was the boss fired? Did Kaiserslautern go into freefall, following their defeat to Bohs?

    Kaiserslautern went on to reach the semi-final of the competition that year, losing to Alaves. You don't hear them whinging over "losing" to Bohs 5 years later. They won the tie, that's all they had to do.

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    The double winning Bohs team would wipe the floor with any league champions since then. Roddy assembled the best group of players in the modern era of Irish football andno club has even matched that team in terms of quality, let alone surpassed it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGuy
    The double winning Bohs team would wipe the floor with any league champions since then. Roddy assembled the best group of players in the modern era of Irish football andno club has even matched that team in terms of quality, let alone surpassed it.
    quality entertainment there.

    So how come they didnt "wipe the floor" the following season? In the modern era nothing surpassed the 4 in a row side.

    KOH

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    Quote Originally Posted by NY Hoop
    quality entertainment there.

    So how come they didnt "wipe the floor" the following season?
    Why? Two words... Peter Mahon

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    Coach tiktok's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThatGuy
    The double winning Bohs team would wipe the floor with any league champions since then. Roddy assembled the best group of players in the modern era of Irish football andno club has even matched that team in terms of quality, let alone surpassed it.
    Yeah.........obviously

    Wayne Russell,
    Rob Bowman, Shaun Maher, Dave Hill, Simon Webb,
    Dave Morrison, Stephen Caffrey, Kevin Hunt, Mark Dempsey
    Trevor Molloy Glen Crowe

    world beaters alright.
    Did really well the following season didn't ye?
    Cork City: Making 'Dream Team' seem realistic since 2007.

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