Game was up once Shams took the lead
LIKE being forced to visit your grandmother on a Sunday when you were a child, there’s a terrible tediousness and dread about any call to Tallaght Stadium. The sparsely populated multi-coloured stands bring back limited cheerful memories for those of the Bit O’Red persuasion.
There has been the odd victory up there. Notably John Dillon’s dramatic winner in 2011 and the Setanta Cup success three years later. But when it comes to facing the Hoops on their patch, it’s mostly offered very little.
Last Friday was the latest episode of D24 disappointment. In fact you’d have to go all the way back to the final game of the 2013 league season to find Rovers’ last win down there. Since then, Shams have managed to come out on top in seven of Rovers’ last eight visits, with the only exception being a score draw last season.
Stephen Bradley’s side were a mark or two better on Friday night than our last meeting at Tallaght in March. Although again, nothing special.
Rovers were impressive at times in the first hour but not much to report on in terms of an attacking threat. There was a reminder of how we can create goal-scoring opportunities in the 16th minute. Jack Keaney’s speedy interaction with Lee Lynch creating the space for the stand-in full back to find David Cawley, but the height of the crossbar denied him becoming Rovers’ top scorer this season.
Aaron Greene was on the scoresheet in that game in 2013. He along with Sam Bone’s ability to push high up the pitch caused Regan Donelon plenty of problems. The former Sligo winger was able to swing in plenty of crosses but to no avail.
Kris Twardek struggled to track Bone’s jaunts forward while his impact on the game was meagre.
While on the other wing Caolan McAleer was practically absent and not for the first time, the signs were there that this level requires a step or two more than what he can produce.
Twardek and McAleer’s inability to make their mark in midfield meant both Cawley and Rhys McCabe were squeezed for room against the Shams middle three.
McCabe resorting to coming closer to the sideline for space. He did produce one or two fantastic long-range passes but most of what he tried to conjure broke down two passes later.
The game was up once Shams hit the lead. One down, Ger Lyttle decided to withdraw Drennan in place of Patrick McClean to keep four at the back, which drew questioning afterwards. A goal behind and even with just ten men, surely that was the time to go for broke, risk it and play three at the back?
Lyttle’s move did see Rovers spend a lot of time in the Shams half in the dying moments but we were two down at that stage. Hindsight is wonderful etc, but teams can be vulnerable once they score so maybe the braver move would have been to go at them at one down?
Maybe I’ll just take as much solace as I can from knowing we won’t have to go back there again, FAI Cup pending until next season.
The often ridiculousness of our league was highlighted last week for the umpteenth time this season alone. The situations at both Bray Wanderers and Limerick leading the FAI to come up with the idea of providing an emergency fund to clubs who can’t afford to pay their players during the season. It’s a good idea, for player welfare, to have such a fund in place, with penalties occurring of course for over-ambitious clubs who think they can afford to pay big names unrealistic wages on the back of attracting 500 supporters to their ground every fortnight.
But the bitching and sledging between the FAI and PFAI that has surfaced from attempts to find a solution, has long grown tiresome. The two organisations, one the overseers of the game in Ireland and the other who is there for the benefit of its players, seem to take every opportunity to have a go at each other in the media. This is enough before you even consider that both groups are run from the same building in Abbotstown.
The PFAI seem to be the buzzing fly the football association’s front room. And they’re there for a reason and for situations such as those of the past few weeks. The idea of asking the PFAI in public to donate €150,000 towards the pot itself seemed to be an attempt at a ‘put up or shut up’ type show of strength from the FAI towards their neighbours. But the FAI’s licensing committee should, a long time ago, have had their own house in order.
There is of course partial blame on any club who budgets to spend what they can never bring back in. But it’s long ago that the governing body should have had a system in place that means clubs would never need to be saved by an escrow account such as the one proposed last week.