A New Hope

Game 35

Dundalk 2-0 Longford

Have you ever had some sort of medical issue which led to you having to go to the hospital or to the doctor for tests? You’ve looked up your symptoms and you’re sure you’re going to die a horrible, horrible death?

When you speak to the doctor they say ‘try not to worry about it, it’s probably nothing but I’m a little concerned so we should get this checked out’. You get the tests done and then you have to wait.

In the waiting period you swing wildly from ‘everything will be fine’ to ‘I wonder what kind of grave stone they’re going to give me’. It doesn’t matter how many people tell you that you’re going to be fine, until you get the test results back and its 100% official that you’re not sick you cannot relax.

Then you get the results and it turns out you’re fine, you’re going to live and you feel relieved? Anyway, Dundalk officially can’t be relegated this season and are being sold to Andy Connolly and Statsports. Nothing to worry about.

Turns out all those people who told you there was no chance they would get relegated were right. Turns out all those people who said that the deal with the Northern consortium was done were wrong. You were worried about nothing. You just need to drink more water.

We’re one game away from the end of the season. A season which began with hope, which was then followed by fear and confusion. Rage, rage and more rage followed until somehow, after everything, we’ve arrived back at hope again.

This season has been one of the most stressful and bizarre that any of us can remember.

Even just to list some of the events that have taken place: Making Shane Keegan manager on the eve of the season starting. Replacing the Keegan/Giovagnoli axis with the Director of Football. Replacing the Director of Football as manager with the man who was sacked to bring in the Keegan/Giovagnoli axis. A man who the Director of Football, reportedly, didn’t want.

The pre-season exodus of title winners was followed by the club captain abandoning, what at the time was, an absolute shambles of a ship mid-season to a sea of Carrick Road pyro. There was a different kind of Carrick Road display when the fans made their feelings known about Bill ‘focus on the positives’ Hulsizer.

One of the greatest goals scored by a League of Ireland side in Europe was scored by a man who very, very nearly followed the captain off the ship during the summer but had to settle for moving house at Christmas time. Oh and he’s bringing his best mate too.

A bonding/drinking session during COVID restrictions and the several outbreaks of the virus which according to reports at the time had affected, I believe this is accurate, any number between 5 and 79 players.

It’s been wild and this is all before the takeover talk started too. You must be exhausted. Some of those memories feel like a lifetime ago never mind just a couple of months.

There has been a lot of lows but there has been some highs as well. Who can forget pinching the ball from Love Island on his debut and scoring to take the lead in Tallaght. I know we lost that game but forget that part.

I saw Drogheda United fans unfurl their ‘Love Peak6 Hate Dundalk’ banners before trying but failing to launch fireworks onto the pitch. It failed because the fireworks hit the roof of the stand and rebounded back and blew up on top of the ‘ultras’. Wonderful karma.

Speaking of fans, we got to fill Oriel again. We’re unbeaten at home since we’ve returned to full capacity. I know next week is for looking forward but are you as excited as I am for next season already? Oriel is fortress. Shit pitch and all.

So looking back, there’s absolutely no way this season can be seen as a success. Chaos at every turn, shenanigans on and off the field, uncertainty and confusion about the future of the football club.

It’s important to remember where we’ve come from. It’s important to remember the feeling we felt when we thought our club was being taken away from us. We need to remember all these lows. We need to remember what we learned from them.

Things won’t be easy but if there’s anything we have learned above all else this season its that our fanbase, the 1903, the shed side army, the podcasts, the bloggers, everyone who goes to games, everyone who watches from afar, is the life blood of this football club. We, you are what makes this club special.

This club belongs to the town, to this community. We’re about to take the first steps towards a new era and a second chance at building a club we can all be proud of, that represents us and our community across the country and the continent. Let’s remember all that’s happened to our club and not take anything for granted.

Come on the town.

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