Obviously, no Limerick FC matches to speak of for a few months, and the Premier Division is just about sorted. Still a small few things to talk about in regards Irish football though.
The promotion/relegation play-offs are on, and Waterford picked up a handy 2-0 victory away to Longford in the first part of that process. No away goals of course, but considering the dire form of Longford in the last month, a two goal cushion to take back to the RSC should be more than enough to see them home. Longford seem to have simply run out of steam and are probably already preparing for life in the graveyard in 2013.
Dundalk await the winners, going through their own dire streak of bad form, having picked up a single point in their last seven league games. Only meaningless positioning is up for grabs in the top tier now, though Shamrock Rovers could yet overtake St Pats following a series of dropped points from the FAI Cup finalists, thus guaranteeing them a European spot. Shamrock Rovers will get one anyway if St Pats win that FAI Cup final in a few weeks, which remains the biggest game left to play in this season.
On Limerick, the inevitable drama on the Market’s Field rolls on, now with the Limerick City Council at odds over whether the project can be “fast-tracked”. The amount of bluster and ignorance of the situation here is staggering. Why is a private enterprise expected to build a community centre after the LCC have consistently failed to do so? Do they realise that Limerick FC don’t actually own the site? We’ll see how it all turns out.
Other concerns come from the potential application of new clubs, sought by the FAI to help increase the size of the First Division. It isn’t at all clear, despite the deadline for “expressions of interest” coming and going, who has applied, if anyone. The rumour mill will have you believe that any number from Tralee Dynamos, Cobh Ramblers, GUST, Letterkenny Rovers, Fanad and even Cherry Orchard might have expressed interest. Of all those only GUST look like certainties for application.
Across the pond, Manchester United struggled to a victory over Stoke, though I suppose it is rare you will see such an outfit concede four goals. The centre of defence, where Rio Ferdinand was perhaps distracted by this nonsense over t-shirts, was the critical weakpoint, Stoke’s second goal showcasing a total lack of pace or competence from that department. As is ever the fear, better attacks will carve that defence open at will. While United have no problems scoring goals (missing lots of chances too though) teams like Chelsea – coming next – might well score more.
With the exception of a poor Arsenal per4forance away to Norwich and Spurs, all the big players racked up wins. Chelsea looked especially impressive away to Tottenham and really have cemented their status as the new front runners. Huge game next weekend, top of the table after all, which might well see the Blues finally get the recognition that United and City have been sharing for the most part.
City themselves are still winning games, but for the second time in a row they left it extremely late to get all three points. Still there, but you begin to wonder about this team now, about the championship hangover.
Liverpool finally have a home win under Rodgers. You’d expect them to push on and improve their position now, with the Liverpool derby coming up very shortly. I had a dim view of Rodgers chances with Liverpool, but maybe he can turn it around.