Friday, 25 May 2012

Is This The Year?

With our last FAI Cup success now 25 years ago we all feel we are overdue an FAI Cup win, with two cup final losses against Galway and the Derry City the final against Sligo two years ago seemed like destiny as the first one in the new Aviva Stadium looked all set to be the scene of a double winning success until a penalty shoot-out nightmare!
I don’t usually buy into superstition and faith but after waiting 16 years before we eventually won out 16th league title in 2010 could it now be that we could win our 25th FAI Cup after a 25 year wait?!! It sounds like a nice story and hopefully it will have a happy ending but it got of to a difficult start as the first chapter put us up against Division 1 title favourites Limerick. With many experienced Premier Division players in their squad it seemed like this would be a tricky proposition but with Joe Gamble and Dennis Behan missing and Stephen Bradley only fit enough for the bench our task was made slightly easier.
After a bright start the game went flat and we went into the break 0-0. Similar to the Monaghan game on Monday we failed to create many chances until the introduction of Daryl Kavanagh for O’Neill. It was also good to see the re-introduction of Stephen O’Donnell who played so well against Pats a few back in the Leinster Senior Cup and it was the substitutes that made the difference when Kavanaghs 25 short was parried by former Hoop Barry Ryan and O’Donnell slotted home to put us 1 up.
After that you would think we could relax and play football and hopefully extend our lead but due to our fragile confidence we looked edgy and Limerick pushed hard for an equalizer, they introduced Bradley, substituted a centre half for an extra striker but they were hampered when Paudie Quinns high tackle on Gilbert was punished with a straight red card. We managed to see out the game but not before some nervy moments particularly from corner kicks but a much needed clean sheet was enough to see us into the next round.
After Sligos shock loss to Monaghan it means the champions of the last 2 seasons are out and we will now be the favourites to win but with no other shocks tonight there is still a very strong list of teams involved and we will be hoping for another home game in the next round.
Keep on Hooping!

Away Day Blues

After Fridays positive result the perfect follow up was surely a game against the leagues bottom side but with only one win away from home this season which was on the opening day of the season we should have foreseen what was going to happen!
Although Stephen Kenny selected the same team that beat Drogheda I was disappointed to see that we didn’t select a more attacking line-up. We started off well and as Monaghan played with no centre forwards our two centre backs were getting plenty of time on the ball but the constant long diagonal balls from Sives and Oman was getting frustrating. We had some half chances but we went into half time level at 0-0 and we had failed to have a single shot on target.
The second half started off better with more balls going to O’Neill and Twiggs feet but we still failed to breach the Monaghan defence and it wasn’t until Daryl Kavanagh was introduced on the hour mark that we got our first shot on target. From that point on we put constant pressure on the Monaghan backline and although we huffed and puffed we lack the quality needed score and we were handed 3 guilt edge chances all from 6 yards or else we hit the post, fired wide and Bennion stopped Sives late effort which he knew nothing about and we ran out of time as the game finished scoreless.
It was a frustrating night and we were left wondering why we couldn’t have started off on the front foot and played with the high tempo we finished with as Monaghan were certainly there for the taking, its also worrying that unless Twiggy gets on the scoresheet we really struggle to score as we lacked another goalscorer but most worrying of all is that we have now played 6 away games and only won 1. This is certainly not the form of potential champions and we will need to get a lot more wins on the road it we are to retain our league title. The cup game against Limerick on Friday will be a welcome distraction from the league!

Keep on Hooping!

A New Series of Games, A New Start

After a disappointing 19 points from the first series of games, the start of the second series of games was seen as a fresh start and thankfully we started with a good win against Drogheda. It took 30 minutes to open the scoring as Gary McCabe finished off a great team move with a fine strike although Sava would be disappointed he was beaten at his near post.
The second half started off well with Twiggy doubling the lead and continuing his fine early season form, it was a superb bit of interplay between the two front men as Twigg headed down to O’Neill who chested it back to Twigg and he finished superbly with a curling right footed effort.
We had loads of chances to extend the lead but it took until the 82nd minute to make it 3 when Omans header from a Dennehy corner was cleared off the line but Twigg was on hand to head home. All that was left now was for Rovers to keep a clean sheet but typical of the way we have defended this season we did end up conceding as Declan O’Brien took advantage of poor defending from Sives and finished past Jansson.
All in all it was a good performance and kept our unbeaten home record going and we have started the weekend with 3 points which we will hopefully double on Monday night in Monaghan.

Keep on Hooping!

Unwanted 4 in a Row!

For the first time ever we have now lost 4 games in a row against Sligo. On the way down we felt that this was the real starting point of our season and a win in Sligo would be a boost of confidence for the whole team and would certainly appease the fans.
Pre-match optimism was high amongst us as we enjoyed a bit of grub and a few pints in Mooneys and when we got into the ground the pitch was in perfect condition and the fans were in high spirits. Then I saw the team sheet and I was a little disappointed but we started pretty well and it was an even game until the opening goal. Poor defending allowed Quigley to run unchallenged until Brennans well timed tackle unfortunately fell into the path of North who finished at Pieterse’s near post as the debutant got his angles all wrong. We needed to hold out from there and re-group but within 10 minutes we were 2 down when Pieterse’s poor punch fell to the edge of the box and McCabe failed to clear and Cawley finished superbly. From there it was always going to be an uphill battle and we rued Gary Twiggs early missed chance when it was still 0-0.
The second half started brightly as we took the game to Sligo but the game was all over when Chris Turner was sent off for a push on Alan Keane, the first yellow was in no doubt after a bad tackle on Ventre but when Keane needlessly got involved Turners reaction was stupid but Keanes theatrics were disgraceful and to see a grown man go down holding his face when he was pushed in the chest was very disappointing.
A third goal duly arrived when Sives was replaced by Hawkins the big Galway defenders first involvement was a fresh air kick that left North in the clear and another questionable piece of goalkeeping from Pieterse left North celebrating his 12th of the season. A depressing day was capped off when Gartland was sent off for a second yellow, again it was harsh but the way the day was going it was inevitable.
The drive home was full of debate most circled around team selection and a hope that Stephen Kenny would soon turn things around before our season slips away.

Keep on Hooping!

Friday, 11 May 2012

Back to Winning Ways

It may only have been the Leinster Senior Cup but it was important for us to bounce back after Fridays disappointing draw with UCD. Only 750 in attendance for a game that many viewed as irrelevant but with the disgraceful lack of a reserve league this competition is important for keeping squad players fresh so they have games under their belt if they are needed to step into the first team.
It was a comprehensive 3-0 win against a poor St. Pats side and I went home pleased with the performances of both the first team and U-19 players on show. Pieterese had very little to do in goals but anything he did he did well. He was quick off his line to deal with any threats Pats posed and he made a few good saves when called upon. His distribution was good from his hands and his kicking off the ground was excellent, all in all it was another good game from the young South African.
At the back Memery had another decent game but I can’t see him being good enough to remain with the first team and we still are in big need for another left back in the June transfer window. Gilbert was just average and although only back from injury I would have expected more from him. Branagan was very composed alongside the experienced Hawkins, who once again really impressed me. I taught he was finished when he came here as a coach but he still has a lot to offer and his reading of the game is second to none in our squad. It was positive that we kept a clean sheet and hopefully we can starting doing it more often in the league now.
In midfield I was delighted to see Conor McCormack but he was very poor and it was disappointing to see him so sloppy in possession as I have been campaigning for him to play in there in the league games, I still believe he is the man for that position but he would need to play a lot better than he did on Monday! Alongside him O’Donnell was very good, nothing spectacular but he controlled the whole game and everything went through him when we got possession. Sean Gannon played in an unfamiliar right wing position but did well and got the vital first goal with a fine finish just before half-time. Left winger Lorcan Shannon was the most impressive of the young lads and had a superb first half, he got in plenty of crosses, set=piece deliveries were good and he was a constant threat, in the second half he began to tire as the game went on, as he did in the last round against Bohs as well, so with that in mind he would surely need to improve his fitness levels to play for the first team on a regular basis.
Up front Aaron Greene was very disappointing again but then he had a 10 minute spell towards the end where he smashed the crossbar with a cracking right footed effort before he scored the third goal after a superb turn and left footed finish. I was expecting better from Aaron when he signed but he has failed to get going and looks set to just be a squad player. Alongside him young Dean Ebbe showed his potential with a really well taken goal, our 2nd on the day, he collected Conor McCormacks pass from just inside the box he curled home a fine left footed effort. His game isn’t about running and pressing the opposition and its something he will need to work on if he wants to step up a level but he does look to have a touch of class, if he wants to play centre forward at this level he will also need to learn how to hold the ball up better and he could learn a lot about movement by training alongside players like Gary Twigg.
None of the substitutes had long enough to impress but all in all it was a good win and we now face Shels in Tolka Park in the semi-final on May 28th. With UCD and Pats CY in the other semi-final it is a good chance for us to earn some silverware by winning the famous old cup.
Keep on Hooping!

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Bring Back SRFC TV

There was outrage amongst Rovers fans last month when the online SRFC TV was ordered not to stream live games by the FAI. This volunteer, free of charge service was being provided by a group of dedicated Rovers fans who put their own matchday experience second to the job of providing coverage for the many Hoops around the world who couldn’t make it to Rovers games on Friday nights.

I do see the FAI’s point that showing the games live online could affect attendances and could affect MNS viewing figures but I think this isn’t the case and they have got this one grossly wrong. In my opinion they should be thinking how to embrace the excellent work of SRFC TV and how other clubs can do something similar to enhance the interest in the league both at home and abroad.
I think the FAI should be providing a small grant for all clubs to set-up an online TV channel. I think the clubs should be asked to add this service to their main club website. The grant could be used for clubs to buy the necessary camera equipment and put in the necessary ISDN line and everything else needed for live streaming.
With video analysis becoming a big part of coaching in recent years most managers will ask for their clubs to provide them with DVD’s of the game each week so they can analysis it and use it as a coaching tool when they do video analysis with their players in preparations for the following game. With this in mind most clubs have somebody videoing games each week anyway so if they could put this on a live stream on the club websites as part of the club TV channel then this could be streamed to anybody who wants to watch the games outside of Ireland. You can easily block people on this island from watching the stream but we should be trying to promote to league to people living abroad. You can easily do this the same as the RTE player and BBC iPlayer can stop people in certain regions watching certain TV shows, so the current technology for live streaming in certain regions is already in place all we need to do is use it.
One of our Trim Hoops members is currently in Cambodia doing volunteer work and relied on SRFC TV to watch games every week but now he can only see Rovers games if they are on RTE which is a big disappointment to him and countless others who used SRFC TV around the world.
Then after MNS the clubs should be encouraged to post up extended highlights on the new club TV channels like SRFC TV do at the minute, this could be an official part of the media strategy for the league and it would bring traffic to main club website as well. The online channels should also be used for regular player interviews and coaching staff interviews as well as giving a view of what goes on behind the scences at the LoI clubs on a daily basis. Clubs should also be encouraged to post highlights from there U-19s and Women’s Teams games.
With children increasingly using the internet more and more each day the best way we can get them to fall in love with their local club rather than foreign teams is to provide them with enjoyable and interactive ways to stay in touch with the latest news and updates from their club. Most clubs are embracing Twitter and Facebook well at the minute and club TV channels would be a big boost to this and with the little or no coverage the league gets on national TV the internet is the best tool we have to market our clubs and our league.
I would urge the FAI to re-visit this decision, relax the rules on it and use SRFC TV as a benchmark for other clubs and then work with clubs to develop their online TV channels.
Keep on Hooping!

Friday v Saturday

I think that Friday fixtures are detrimental to attendances with people coming from work, school, college etc its hard for families to get there and very hard for fans to get to long distance away games. Further to my previous blog on creating an 18 team Premier Division I would much prefer to see 8 of the 9 fixtures take place at a new 7pm kick-off time on Saturday evening, this would be late enough that anybody who plays Saturday football, works on a Saturday or even wants to watch football on TV earlier in the day can do so and still manage to get to their local LoI ground in time for kick-off. It would be much easier to get to away games and would be much better for groups travelling together to meet up and enjoy pre-match drinks etc. People would still be home in time to go out on a Saturday night if they wish and kids wouldn’t be out too late either!
The perfect build up to this would be the other remaining game to take place at 8pm live on TV on a Friday night. A decent TV deal that demands one game every Friday with decent pre-match and post match coverage would be prefect viewing for all LoI fans and a chance to convert others who then might be convinced to go to any of the other 8 games on the following night. At present the random nature of the TV coverage means its not ingrained into the mind of the public that Friday night is “live game night” and Saturday night is “go to a match night”. This would surely boost attendances I can guarantee you that.
Monday night MNS could still remain as the perfect way to end the weekend with all the highlights from the weekends action but this programme needs to be improved also with more match highlights and less talking!
There is a reason that no other top flight division in Europe plays on a Friday night because it is a terrible night for fixtures and attendances but could as I said be a good night for a single game live on TV.
Furthermore no other league in Europe plays games at the same time as a live game is on TV, this is just bizarre. Take England for example, no live football is allowed at 3pm on a Saturday because if a live game was on then a lot of fans wouldn’t be bothered going to games in League 1, League 2 or the conference etc. Fans are encouraged to go to games at their local club and then watch the big game of the weekend live on tv on a Sunday or even before or after the teams games on a Saturday. So by us having for example Rovers v Sligo live on TV at the same time as other league games you are basically hitting the same target markets twice and that’s why TV viewing numbers are so low and that has knock-on effect when looking for TV money because TV companies say: “well look when we put on a game not enough people watch it so we aren’t bothered putting on anymore matches”. Its a very simple concept and I can’t understand why the FAI, League of Ireland department and the League of Ireland clubs can’t see this.
I would love all clubs to read this and take it on board then try this for one season. If I’m wrong fine but I think you will find that attendances will go up, TV viewing figures will go up and the league will be a better place for this.
Keep on Hooping!

Too Many Competitions?

With all the games already played this season is there too many competitions in the current League of Ireland structure? I believe there is and here is the new format that I would love to see the FAI adopt to benefit the future of the League.
League: Ideally I would love to see an 18 team All-Ireland Premier Division with the top 9 League of Ireland and top 9 Irish League teams in one league and then two regional divisions playing below that. Now this unfortunately will not happen as both associations would need to merge and the clubs have very little foresight into what’s best for the football in this country. I think this type of league would gain a real interest in the public domain and we could even get a decent TV deal and more lucrative sponsorship deals if we created this.
As I don’t believe this will happen anytime soon here is what I would like to see happen right now: one 18 team Premier Division, this debate has rumbled on for years but I believe the 10 or 12 team format is outdated and too small. There is not one decent league in Europe with 16 teams or less so why do we think we can make a decent one here? We need a bigger league to stop the monotony of teams playing each other so many times each season. I know people believe we don’t have 18 teams strong enough to compete but it is my opinion that we would have if we organised it right. 34 League games would be a perfect amount as well. Allied to the 12 current Premier Division teams we could add Limerick, Finn Harps, Waterford, Longford, Athlone and a single team from Galway instead of the farce of a set-up in that county at present. Wexford Youths would then miss out but I believe they should join clubs who want reserve teams and then teams like FC Carlow, Tralee Dynamos etc in a newly created division 1 which could be split into two 10 team regional sections with the winners of each section playing off to see who gets promoted to the Premier Division.
The reserve teams would not be allowed to gain promotion even if they won the league but the bigger clubs like us would just be happy to a have a format for reserve team football to keep all players in the squad fresh and keep the best U19s on board after they finish at that level as they might not be ready to go straight to the first team and without a reserve league will end up signing elsewhere or worse still dropping back to Junior or Intermediate football.
FAI Cup: The only competition that I would leave in its current structure, it is a great competition and the magic of the cup gives non-league teams a chance to qualify through the FAI Junior and FAI Intermediate Cups to pit their wits against the league teams. The final being in the Aviva as the last match of the year is also the best way to end the season. The last 2 years have been great for this competition and I hope it continues to grow in stature like it has done recently.
Setanta Cup and League Cup: I would merge the idea of both these competitions and make it one competition. Currently the league cup is pointless, it adds nothing to the season and the prize money is not worthwhile for all the games you must play. The Setanta Cup has brought back the All-Ireland competition which I personally love but people keep saying it hasn’t capture the imagination, I don’t believe that’s right I just think that because season tickets don’t over the games and with 5 other competitions to play in for Rovers the fans prioritise and they just can’t afford to keep shelling out for Setanta Cup games. I would put all the League of Ireland and Irish League teams in an open draw competition, straight knock-out, single leg games and it would run during the current timeframe of the Setanta Cup with a May final. I think amalgamating these two competitions would decrease the needless games clubs currently play, increase attendances, increase interest and sponsorship and increase the prestige for the All-Ireland champions! I think the final carrot for the clubs would be that if both associations asked UEFA if the winner could take a place in the Europa League. Teams would then make a real effort to win the competition it I think it would be a fantastic success.
Leinster Senior Cup: Another competition which people believe is a waste of time and it really does get in the way of preparation for more important games during the season. The competition is historically very important and has a great tradition so my compromise would be to use it as a pre-season tournament played over a week in February with Round of 16 games on a Saturday, Quarter Final games on a Tuesday, Semi-Final on a Thursday and a Final on the following Saturday. It would mean the manager could give games to all the squad whilst getting valuable competitive pre-season games. The competition would be over in advance of the league and I think managers of all the Leinster based teams in the League would be in favour of moving it to this format.
Europe: With the change from 5 in-season competitions to my new idea of 1 pre-season and 3 in-season competitions our clubs would then have a great chance of concentrating on the big European games without fear of a massive fixture back log. The financial implications of a run lack Rovers got last year could be crucial to clubs so the FAI and League of Ireland department should be trying to aide this in any way possible and I feel my new proposed format would do just that.
Hopefully you agree and if so then inform your club and bring this new format to the League of Ireland AGM for clubs to vote on and start the Trim Hoops revolution for a new brighter future for League of Ireland football!!!
Keep on Hooping!

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Problems

With most in the stand blaming the manager I think that people need to open there eyes a little more and see that we have more problems that just the gaffer. The way I see it we have 3 problems right now: The Board, The Management Team and The Players. Here is why:
The Board – Now nobody can deny the unbelievable work they have done in getting us to this point and the tireless work they have done is above and beyond the duty of any fan but is it a case of them now getting too big for their boots and/or the job being too big for them? I know many fans are behind them in the stance over O’Neill’s wage demands but I felt then and I still feel now that we were very na├»ve in our dealings. The boards approach of take what you’re offered and we won’t break our budget for anybody was foolish. Yes he was looking for too much but that’s what negotiations are for and I’m sure we could have met him somewhere in the middle. After all continuity is so important and we had the chance to offer him another 3 year deal to ensure we had that stability. O’Neill also had great plans for the schoolboy structure and other facets of the club, this extra work would have earned him a wage increase and in turn brought in bigger profits in the long run. This was all overlooked and I feel the different priorities between the two parties were the big problem, I for one was and still am a big O’Neill fan and was very sad to see him go.
The fact the board then wanted rid of all MONs backroom staff and allowed Kenny to just give jobs to all his mates is a disgrace. We had the best backroom staff in the country and one which the players respected but by allowing our Goalkeeping Coach, Physio and Sports Scientist to all join our former assistant manager on the Pats backroom staff we started the process of losing the dressing room. I’ve already mentioned continuity and stability and we just decided we can start from scratch completely and expect it to work. Now that can happen at a team who hasn’t won anything and needs a fresh start but a team who are on the up and on the crest of a wave after the success of the past 3 seasons needed continuity, if it’s not broke don’t fix it. The board should not have allowed this to happen and it should have been part of the negotiations with any potential new manager.
I also feel that the board have let us down by not looking for new blood in the club staff. It is my opinion that all season ticket holders and members should be surveyed each year through a simple online set-up and we should be getting ideas from our broad range of fans who have very different professional backgrounds and many will not have the time to go on the board or will not be allowed due to other business interests or career conflicts but can give ideas and help progress. Not once have we been asked what we would like to see happen and the AGM is not the time and place to do this, the AGM should just be where votes on these new ideas should happen but they should be planned out long in advance. I also feel that being asked to just re-elect board members who have sent us no material on their plans for the future and no mandate is just ridiculous. In essence we are just being told “vote for me because I have worked to get us here”. With no alternatives they will be re-elected and maybe they are the right people for the job but we should at least have been given an idea of why we should vote for them and what their plans are. The lack of communication is disgraceful and unacceptable, why was the AGM two months late as well? I still don’t know because nobody gives us any information.
The above needs to be rectified ASAP and this year I will expect a better and more professional performance from our board. They need to find out the skill set of others around the club and open up their little clique to more people, many of whom who have a lot to offer but are not being utilized.  I know the response will always be that these "people should put themselves forward if they want to be involved" but similarly to a manager needing to improve his squad, he doesn’t wait for players to come to him, he goes out does he research and recruits them to improve his team. The same approach should be taken at board level.

The Management Team – As I said above the decision to allow our backroom staff from last year to leave is a disgrace. We had the best goalkeeping coach in the league and allowed him to leave to our rivals when he wanted to stay just because Kenny wanted to give a job to his mate, who in my opinion not good enough to be at this club. Don’t take my word for it, just speak to goalkeepers around the league and you will see I am right.
We had a fantastic young and enthusiastic physio who was excellent at his job and the players trusted and we let him go to our rivals as well only to replace him with another of Kenny’s mates who will also be disappearing with Ireland when the Euros come about as he is one of their 3 physio’s and we will need another physio to take his place.
MON brought in a sports scientist last year which was a great addition and again Kenny deemed his services unnecessary and let him go to our rivals also as he opted for 2 assitant coaches instead of the one assistant that MON had. Now in this day in age where managers are head coaches and should be coaching on the field there should be no need for two assistant coaches and it’s a sign of real weakness that Kenny needed to get rid of all the links to the old regime and surround himself with mates.
Every manager will have an assistant that they trust and will bring them with them and I have no problem with this but when we had such a good backroom team that everything should have been done to keep them in place to make the transition between managers a lot smoother than it has been.
The fact that Pats have hovered them all up shows how highly in demand and how highly taught of they are and I’d say Liam Buckley couldn’t believe his luck when they became available.  All this hasn’t helped Kenny settle in and hasn’t helped his reputation in the dressing room. He caused himself undue problems that will be hard to recover from.

The Players – On the pitch we aren’t covering ourselves in glory either and although the players are undoubtedly unhappy with how things have been going so far they also need to stand up and take responsibility. On many occasions this season we have been in winning positions and with professional and experienced players in our squad we should have been able to see out games but we seem to feel sorry for ourselves and end up dropping points and losing games that last year we would have not.
In goal I have no doubt that we should have kept Ryan Thompson and although he was eccentric and little wild he made some of the most unbelievable saves I have ever seen a Rovers keeper make. People used to give out about him but I can guarantee you that had he been in goal this year we would have not conceded half of the goals we have. Doesn’t mean he would have saved all the shots that ended up in the back of the end but good keepers make less saves because they organize and command their back four which Ryan did really well and the inexperienced Oscar Jansson is struggling and although I was initially impressed with him in pre-season he has really struggled since the real stuff began. Bring back Ryan!
At the back we lost the best two full backs in the league and unfortunately failed to replace them with Powell struggling and Gilbert not getting enough games yet to judge him but his replacements during his injury haven’t stepped up to the mark and now the best two full backs in the league are Keane and Davorean at Sligo and we need to sort this area of the pitch out soon as we are ineffective going forward and dismal defending.
Centre back partnership of Sives and Gartland is our best in my opinion and Omans injury has allowed this to happen in the last two games, I hope they get a run of games together because they will be our best partnership in the long term.
Up front we have finally found our partnership as well. We definitely need a front two if Twiggy plays because he needs a partner and Kavanagh is the man for that job. Since Bray he has been excellent and they complement each other very well. Twigg will do his thing and continue to score goals when we create the chances for him and although he is already in double figures he would have more if we moved the ball quicker in midfield because his movement is excellent and it’s just a pity we haven’t the ability to create more chances for him.
Now for the real problems – midfield – right across the midfield we have been a disgrace. A pet hate of mine last year was how deep our central midfield players were going to receive the ball and this year that has got worse. Rice, Turner, Finn all dropping in on top of our back four and inviting teams to press us high is creating massive problems. Only Dundalk so far this season have sat off and we punished them, everybody else particularly Pats, Bray and Drogheda have pressed us and forced us into mistakes but all them sides have played with one central striker and we need to use our centre half as the extra man to carry the ball into midfield. Midfielders need to push up and find space, we need to receive the ball higher up the pitch and learn to play forward rather than sideways and back. It baffles me that the manager can’t see this! When we do break into the opposition half we really need to play to the front mans feet and look for combinations. At the minute we constantly get 30 yards from goal and instead of having the ability to slip players in to create chances or even shoot from distance we constantly play the ball wide and then look to get crosses in and we are so predictable its east for teams to defend. Teams just play narrow and let us play wide then when we do they press and double up on our wingers who are the most predictable wingers in the league, first touch down the line, head for the end line and try cross, only McCabe ever attempts anything different and this is another area we definitely need to strengthen. In the middle I think in McCormack, Turner, O’Donnell and Finn we have quality but the problem is the set-up, the coaching they receive and game plan we have.
The good news is it’s easily fixed the bad news is I don’t see this management team fixing it! In the meantime our players need to show some pride and stop sulking, stop locking managers out of the dressing room at half-time and start taking the game by the scruff of the neck. They won’t ever play for a better club in this country so if they want to stay and be apart of something special like a possible 3, 4 or even 5 in a row title winning team then they need to stand up and be counted. Its time to earn their wages and get on with the job at hand and not look to blame the manager for everything.
Keep on Hooping!

Same Old Story

Another abysmal night tonight after we threw away a 2 goal to slump to our 3rd successive league draw and now we find ourselves 5 points off the top with a trip away to Sligo to come. From the start it was a bizarre team selection, it was my opinion that this was the perfect type of game to throw McCormack back into midfield and bring Gilbert back in at right back. Despite that we dominated earlier possession and scored from a predictable Billy Dennehy free-kick, low and hard to the keepers side and although I was delighted to see it fly in, I am amazed how goalkeepers in this league can’t see that it’s the only free-kick he has in his locker and it should have been saved.
The second goal was a screamer from Daryl Kavanagh, who was our best player on the night, he picked the ball up from the throw in on the left, turned and ran at the UCD defence before curling home a superb effort from 25 yards that gave McGinley no chance in the UCD goal. Everybody happy at half-time as we looked like we were cruising to three points and it was surely just a matter of how many we would score.
Unfortunately it didn’t work out like that and we started the second half very sloppy in possession and playing far too deep. On the hour mark we were punished as poor defending from McCormack to concede a penalty gave UCD a route back into the game which they duky took.
So 2-1 up 30 minutes to play, at home against a bottom half of the table team, what do you do? Well Stephen Kenny take off our best player on the night in Kavanagh and to a large chorus of boos he replaces him Brennan to give us an extra man in midfield and leave Twigg up front on his own, a position which we all agree by now he cannot play.
The problem in midfield was the fact we were too deep and allowing the UCD midfield to drop in and pick up possession of their back four. We need to push Turner on to the midfield player receiving the ball and by putting an extra man in there we just let Turner and Rice sit deeper rather than just matching UCD in midfield and ensuring they couldn’t pick up possession so easily of their back four. So with the extra man basically ineffective we gave more an more possession to UCD as with one up front their was no room for their full backs to push our wingers back and for their spare centre half to come into midfield and build attacks.
The second goal was inevitable and when you see it again you will see one centre midfielder receive the ball in his own half runn unchallenged into our half and slip a through to his midfield partner who calmly finished to level the game up at 2-2 in stoppage time.
It highlighted the crux of our whole problem this year which has been in central midfield where we have failed to dominate a single game. Week after week I stand look at so many similar poor tactical and positional play in midfield and week after week our coaching staff fail to see it and allow it continue. Sometimes I wonder what they are looking.  
Plenty of more poor performances all round and the lack of desire and work rate shown tonight was very disappointing. Its time the players took so of the blame and they need to stand up and be counted now over the next few weeks. Whether they agree with the managers decisions or not they need to be professional and get the job done, tonight’s 3 points should have been a formality with the talent at our disposal.
All that said booing the team is not the solution, if you have a bad day at work and you get slated for it you’re hardly going to improve the next day. Fans need to stand up and be counted and show why we are Irelands best fans by supporting the team in full voice on Monday and next Saturday in Sligo, we can and will turn this around.
Keep on Hooping!