Two Years In The Making

Game 1

Dundalk 2-2 Derry City

It’s finally here. The big kick off. One of the most exciting and most talked about opening rounds of fixtures in the League of Ireland for a very long time.

Damien Duff is absolutely fucking everywhere, upstarts from Derry trying to muscle in to a title race, confrontations from a contentious off-season managerial merry-go-round, Rovers launching a defence of their title with a record fourteen ‘number tens’, Bob Marley is on a Bohs jersey. So much to look forward to!

On our own doorstep, new owners, new management, new players, reinvigorated supporters, no new podcasts, and those spendy upstarts who raided our bins coming to town for opening night. Absolutely cannot wait to get started.

So of course I got COVID a few days before the game.

Two years I avoided it! Hadn’t even really come close to getting it as far as I could tell, never a close contact, never close to a close contact, very careful. Until right at the end. Fell at the final hurdle. Two years later, I eventually missed a game through COVID.

It’s all about perspective though. I may have missed attending a football match but at least I didn’t get one of the more dangerous variants. At least I was working from home so I didn’t have to take time off work…wait…that’s not good. I was at home, in the warmth of my own home instead of being out in the snow at the game. I guess that’s probably good and bad, kind of neutral.

Perspective is important when looking at Friday night’s game too. A draw against the team many are predicting to challenge S______k R_____s* for the title.

*My pettiness knows no bounds, no matter how sick I am.

Two leads taken and two leads thrown away. Dundalk looked very good in some sections of the match and vulnerable in some others and this could very easily had a different outcome if McGarnigle (I know I’ve spelled it wrong) hadn’t smashed his effort off the crossbar in the dying minutes of the game.

And that’s important to remember, if that shot had gone in, it wouldn’t have changed the performance, it would have changed our perception of the performance.

Football matches are won in moments. We’ve all seen it, the dominant team with 80% possession and 15 shots on target loses to the team with 20% of the ball and 1 shot on target. It’s important to retain perspective when looking at the performance on Friday night and the games ahead.

I’m not saying that was the case on Friday but there was a lot to be positive about in the Dundalk performance. Williams impressed again, a good outing for Sheppard in goal and of course the one true Steven Bradley was excellent. There was even some excellent drone work from someone who shall remain nameless…

It doesn’t feel like it will take much for some of the current squad to be dismissed in some quarters judging by how much stock was put into pre-season results and I would imagine if opening night had ended in defeat the naysayers would have returned.

What’s important is to recognise the building blocks, to recognise the process being put in place and to recognise that there will be set backs for these players and the coaching staff. As long as it looks like progress is being made, however slowly, that’s what is important

I know we’re all fed up of thinking about the past two years and how miserable things were but over the majority of those two years it really didn’t feel like we were building anything. It felt like everything was breaking down, first it was slow and then at an alarming pace and there was minimal effort to put things back together again.

The size of the rebuild at Oriel is not to be overlooked, the upheaval in the off season cannot be ignored and a draw on opening night, nothing to panic about, nothing to get carried away with, might just have been the perfect result. Something to build on.

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