Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ireland July 2015

3 games in Ireland including a UEFA Europa League tie in Dublin.

I had booked my flight from London City airport to Dublin on a Thursday afternoon.
Normally it would be a straightforward trip across London to a comfortable and relatively quiet airport.

Once at the airport it was comfortable and the overall experience thankfully stress-free.
But not so the trauma of getting from west to east when there is an underground strike.

Packed buses, fraught passengers and drivers having to terminate journeys because they had exceeded their permitted driving hours all contributed to an experience you would not want to repeat anytime soon.
I ended up taking two buses and then walking for about forty minutes to get to the DLR station near Bank from where I could get the train to the airport.
A journey that would normally take about 45 minutes took nearly two and a half hours.

St Pats go out.

9th July St Patricks Ath. 0 Skonto Riga 2  Europa League  2,354 (c. 50 away)

After the hassle of London I made it to Dublin.
Where it was also still fairly crowded - roadworks, tourists and throngs of foreign students all in the mix.

Meanwhile to the west of the city St Patricks set about retrieving a 2-1 first leg deficit in this very early phase of the UEFA Europa League.

In the end it became a comfortable victory for the visitors from Latvia especially when Karasausks converted a penalty early in the second half.
That effectively killed the tie as a contest although St Pats did go close to getting a consolation later on.

It had looked more hopeful in the first period with the home side showing better fluency and going close from Conan Byrne’s crosses and particularly when Chris Forrester had an effort cleared off the line.
But the task got difficult on 37 minutes after a long right wing cross found Sorokins at the far post and he headed in to give Skonto the lead.

Following the interval St Pats pressed forward but that left gaps for Skonto to exploit.
From one away attack a Gutkovskis header was adjudged to have been handled in the area and the resulting successful spot kick terminated all hope for the locals.

The 50 or so fans from Latvia (or maybe Dublin) could celebrate their progression to the next phase and a meeting with Debrecen of Hungary.

A good crowd had turned out on a mild evening at Richmond Park but many left early.

I waited until the end and then took the bus back to my b & b in Drumcondra and settled for a couple of beers after a long, fraught day.

Shels hit the mark.

10th July Cabinteely 0 Shelbourne 1  Irish First Division  c. 700 (c. 400 away)

Cabinteely, new to this league, play at the Blackrock College Rugby club ground to the south of the capital.
It is reachable by bus from O’Connell Street and that was the method I chose to get there.

The ground has some infrastructure with terrace and basic seating along one side.
A clubhouse and a few food outlets were behind one goal.

It seemed that, as you might expect, Shelbourne fans were in the majority plus there were some British-based visitors including a few Ipswich fans over for their friendly match against Shelbourne.

We watched an OK game with Shels looking the better team and they generally offered more threats on goal.

After spurning some chances they went ahead after 10 minutes of the second half when a left wing cross was headed home by debutant James English.
It was enough to secure the points

The home side had a some moments of pressure but they failed to really worry the visiting defence.

The weather stayed mild with just a little light drizzle.

Another bus back to the centre then on to Drumcondra by 11pm.

There was a young man from the US.

11th July  Limerick 2 Galway 4  Irish Premier  650 (c. 80 away)

It takes a couple of hours by car from Dublin to Limerick by way of  the M7.
Along the way we stopped at Barack Obama Plaza near to Moneygall, the apparent ancestral home of some of the President’s antecedents.

They probably didn’t eat burgers unlike most visitors.
Further on and near to Limerick the weather became typically Irish with rain and cooling temperatures.
And that continued throughout most of this match.

It was a game that maintained the pattern of poor results for the home team who thus failed to win any of their initial 19 league matches.
For a while, towards the end of the first half, it seemed Limerick might get ‘a result’ when they equalised through a Vinny Faherty header and ended the period in decent shape.
Their seventeen-year-old goalie Tommy Holland played his part in keeping Limerick in the contest.

But Galway came out with purpose after the interval and they soon dominated the home side.
After American striker Jake Keegan had completed his hat-trick on 74 minutes and Gary Shanahan had added a fourth the game was well out of reach for Limerick.

Substitute Ian Turner’s penalty made the score respectable but it was another fairly miserable evening for the Blues.

Because of the inclement weather and other attractions the crowd was significantly below the previous numbers at the redeveloped Markets Field - the spiritual home of Limerick.

It will probably take either help from the spirits or maybe the implosion of troubled Bray Wanderers for Limerick to avoid relegation.

more pictures at

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