As of last week, Dundalk FC have eight League of Ireland games to play in twenty days. That equates to a game roughly every 2.5 days and that doesn’t include Europa League or the FAI Cup (The League Of Ireland equivalent of the FA Cup) final against Cork City.
With so many games coming up, not just for Dundalk, but also Cork City and to a degree St Patrick’s Athletic who all took part in European football this season, there have been calls from fans for those in charge at the FAI to extend the league season by a couple of weeks, allowing Dundalk in particular to get adequate rest periods between games.
I as a Sligo Rovers fan am for this. I think it’s highly unfair on Dundalk, that due to their own success this season they are being punished having to play so many games in such a short period of time.
For years, we as fans prayed for a League of Ireland club that wasn’t Shamrock Rovers to be doing well in Europe and when we finally have that we whinge that they are looking for preferential treatment.
I watched the recent Dundalk against Cork City match and saw the way the Dundalk players looked out on their feet after the game.
Daryl Horgan could barely move after the final whistle and even Alan Keane pulled up with a minor (well, hopefully it’s minor) injury with about ten minutes of the game remaining.
We want the profile of our league heightened. We want our clubs to be playing against some of the best sides in Europe on a regular basis. And we want to show those outside of Ireland that we have both decent teams and decent players in the league, but as fans we don’t seem to want to make the sacrifices to make that happen.
Would it be the worst thing in the world if the league was extended by a couple of weeks? Would it be wrong to show bias to Dundalk this season? For me the answer to both of those questions is no.
There’s no doubt that Dundalk this season at times have been different gravy to every other team in the league, scoring goals for fun, pulling apart teams and deservedly sit on top of the League of Ireland Premier Division table.
They’ve shown time and time again the resilience they have to beat teams, to grind out results and to show at times especially in Europe they’re not there to make up the numbers.
I know the likes of John Delaney aren’t going to see this article because that would mean he actually cares about the league and it’s no longer his “difficult child”, but something needs to be done to help Dundalk fulfill their potential in Europe.
It was be an injustice for them to lose the league title because of the amount of games they’ve played this month – an injustice unless you’re a Cork City fan that is.
So I encourage all neutral League of Ireland fans to show those in charge that we are behind Dundalk in the Europa League and, for their own benefit, to extend the league by two to three weeks to allow Dundalk the chance to be playing European football after Christmas.
After all isn’t that what they want, focus on the league in a positive light or am I just deluding myself?