Home > Shamrock Rovers Programme General Articles > End of the League and I feel fine

End of the League and I feel fine

“Team by team reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped…
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam, fight, bright light,
feeling pretty psyched.

It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
And I feel fine”

R.E.M. (1987)

So we find ourselves in a similar enough position to last year, coming towards the end of this league campaign with the title within Shamrock Rovers’ grasp. Heading into last Sunday’s league game away to Bray, Rovers knew that a win there and in our remaining three games and the title would be ours again. The reporters and wider sporting public are reveling in this tight league campaign with Rovers still fighting to hang onto our league crown looking for a win in front of tonight’s live TV cameras and the bright lights of Tallaght Stadium.

At the start of the campaign if you had been told we’d be in this situation in the league and we’d be playing in the group stages of the Europa League, I think virtually all Shamrock Rovers fans would have taken it and been pretty psyched about what the season had brought. Last week’s draw against Bohemians was disappointing as the Hoops allowed Bohs claim their first ever point in Tallaght and put a dent in our title aspirations. However it isn’t the end of the world, we have the title in our own hands (provided we won last Sunday!) and this writer feels fine – well, okay, maybe still a little bit nervous!

In tonight’s penultimate league home game for Rovers, Derry City come to Tallaght Stadium still with aspirations of their own to win the league. Sligo Rovers meanwhile face back to back games with Bohemians over the next week in both the league and a cup semi final as they chase the domestic double. It could also be a double for the Hoops, winners of the Setanta Cup, or for Derry City who were winners of the EA Sports Cup.

As last season will have taught all those at Shamrock Rovers, winning the league is not easy and not for the faint hearted. The twists and turns at the conclusion of the 2010 season had to be seen to be believed and there is still the potential for similar to occur in the final weeks of this season. The team that is top of the table at the end of the campaign is the best team in the league. If Rovers had conceded a late goal to Bray in our last league game of 2010, it would have been Bohemians who would have been champions with Rovers runners up. If we couldn’t have closed out the season with the hard fought 2-2 draw in that game in the Carlisle Grounds then to my mind, Rovers would not have deserved to have been crowned champions. Thankfully we did get the result we needed back then which meant that the league champions flag has flown proudly here at Tallaght Stadium all season.

The difference between this season and the last is that in the 2010 season it was just a two horse race between Rovers and Bohs. This season Bohs, St. Pats, Derry and Sligo have all been in the mix in the last quarter of the season with Sligo proving probably the most determined of the rivals looking to claim our league title. Ahead of their game against Pats last Saturday, they had scored an impressive 20 goals in their previous five league games including a couple in crucial 2-1 win here in Tallaght Stadium back in early September. It was that win that brought Sligo back into the title race helped by Derry dropping points at home to Drogheda and Bray in their last two home games.

The other difference from last season has been Rovers’ extensive European commitments. To date the Hoops have played eight games in Europe since July (with four still to come) in addition to the five games played in the Setanta Sports Cup, four in the FAI Cup, two in the Leinster Senior Cup and one in the EA Sports Cup. All told that will be 60 matches across the season which began in February and won’t end until December. It is a staggering amount of games for a squad that cannot be viewed as full time and is 11 games more than the team played last year. Rovers’ opponents tonight will play 40 games this season, one third less than the Hoops.

The amount of fixtures is the price of success for Rovers in Europe. It cannot really be expected that the domestic league season should be extended just to accommodate Rovers’ success in Europe. It is clear that nobody really had envisaged an Irish team making it to the group stages in Europe having to squeeze twelve additional games into their season compared with teams, like Derry, who were not in Europe. Next season, the league is returning to a 12 team top division and so there will be at least three less league fixtures than this season’s 36. It is an Irish solution to an Irish problem though as the fixtures are lopsided with teams playing some opponents twice at home and one away and vice versa. Having brought the Airtricity League teams back into the Leinster Senior Cup this season for the first time since 2001, this has added a few more potential fixtures for league teams based in Leinster. It will be interesting to see if teams like Rovers, Pats and Bohs enter that competition next year. They may still feel it is beneficial to take part now that there is no A Championship, only an under 19 championship that does not allow any overage players to take part.

Winning back-to-back titles along with a Setanta Cup All-Ireland crown would make for a very successful season. But if Shamrock Rovers can do that while also mixing it with the big boys in Europe like Copenhagen, Partizan, Rubin Kazan, PAOK and Spurs, it would be an immense achievement. It would put this Shamrock Rovers squad up there with the famous Rovers sides that this club have produced during our illustrious history.

Rovers are only emerging now from a very long fallow period over the past two decades. On a couple of occasions in 2005 and 2006, it seemed that it was the end of the road for this club but the fans stepped in and saved the club. Our reward has been the survival and flourishing of the club attracting the thousands of new fans to the club in our new home here in Tallaght. The success, both on and off the pitch, that Rovers have built on over the past five years has been hard earned. Whatever the outcome of the league, we will still enjoy the conclusion of our European adventure and the season will be viewed as being a great one. Having said that though, the fans, the board, the management team and playing squad are not about to hand over the club’s Champions crown without a fight. We want to repeat the feat. It is no time for losers because we want to be Champions, again.

“I’ve paid my dues,
Time after time…

But it’s been no bed of roses,
No pleasure cruise,
I consider it a challenge before the whole human race,
And I ain’t gonna lose.

We are the champions – my friends,
And we’ll keep on fighting – till the end,
We are the champions,
We are the champions,
No time for losers,
‘Cause we are the champions – of the world –

Queen (1977)

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  1. March 26, 2012 at 21:43

    Alright mate..Really enjoyed reading your blog on here. I’ve always been a SRFC fan and stuck with it thru the worst period in this great clubs history. Losing their home ground in Miltown was a hammer blow of massive proportions. I don’t think anybody outside Rover Football Club really understood the consequences of that at the time but the club has been brilliant in the time without a real home ground. I’m proud to call myslef a SRFC fan.

    I always said when this came about, the Tallaght project, that if Rovers could get a new home in that part of DUBLIN the club would go from strenght to strenght and it’s finally happening. I’m delighted for everyone connected with the club to be honest. I truly believe that SRFC can help this Lge grow. It’s going to take time but with a healthy Shamrock Rovers FC in the Lge the rest will try to follow suit. Sligo Rovers are back in the hunt again. Cork City will be great again and then you have the other top Dublin teams in Bohs and Shels, etc..

    Shamrock Rovers need to take it slow though. I don’t believe it’s in the best interest of the club to spend money we need for the future. Money needs to be spent on an academy that produces homegrown talent aswell as buying players 2. I believe that Rovers will grow to be one of the best clubs in Europe if they go about it the right way. I know a lot of ppl will say I’m talking rubbish but I believe our club can become a club which has a ground that holds 20-25,000 fans in the next 10-15yrs or more. Rovers are in the right place now. Tallaght and Clondalkin are massive places. They are growing all the time. Rovers has a massive pool of young players to pick from if they play their cards right and grow the club gradually.

    I don’t want to see the same happen to Rovers that happened to Bohs and Shels, etc. They tried to plough to much in too quiclkly and it backfired on them. You have to create the revenue streams b4 spending vast sums on players wages, etc. I do believe that SRFC ca grow to have a home ground that packs in 25,000 fans every wk as long as they take the longterm view. The stadium in Tallaght is the beginning of a long road that will prove very fruitful for the Lge as a whole. Rovers suffered for too long and so did the fans of this cracking club. Those days are gone now and this club stock is rising all the time.

    Shamrock Rovers were always famed for their passing football in the past. I want to see the club get back to that kind of system of play. 1-2 touch football that all the best teams in the world play. Just cos it’s the Lge of IRE doesn’t mean the football should be below the standards of other countries. What the club does over the next 10yrs or so really matters for the rest of this Lge. It’s up to Shamrock Rovers to show the way from now on. I hope they take the steps forward and radically change the football philosophy at the club where all their teams whether they’re underage or the 1st team all play the same system. Why shouldn’t Rovers fans expect their club to play the same football as Arsenal, Ajax or Barcelona play. It doesn’t takle spending fortunes to get players playing football in the right manner. It takes courage from our players and coaches alike. That’s what I really want to see aswell as the club continuing to grow it’s way to the top.

    Football is an easy game if it’s playued in the right way but for too long Irish clubs have been happy to lump it long and hope for the best. It’s up to Rovers to change that and be a leader in the Lge of IRE. Other clubs will follow suit 2. It will take courage and good coaching methods but it’s possible for our club to grow into a top European side with the chance of winning the Europa Lge in the next 10-20yrs if the ppl with a say at our club do it right and proper. Why shouldn’t we want to sit at the top table in football? Why should we be happy scrapping for crumbs from UEFA’s table every yr. It’s up to the club to go and take what they want. I believe Rovers can become a great club with a massive fanbase around the world if they go about it the right way. How many Irish ppl live all around the world, ppl of Irish decent aswell.. A great opportunity lies ahead for Irish football and Shamrock Rovers but it will take courage and vision from the ppl in charge at the club…Hopefully one day we will be sitting in a 25,000 all seater stadium in Tallaght watching Rovers taking on Barcelona or Madrid or Man Utd or even Celtic FC in the Champions Lge. It’s possible! It will take time though..We’ve got lots of that at least..haha! Sorry about my ranting on here my friend..I do tend to get carried away everytime I type on my laptop..I can’t help it..I doing it again now..lmao..I’m going to say gdbye and hope to read more from your blog soon.

    Take it easy my friend..

  2. March 28, 2012 at 19:07

    Michael – thanks for your comment. I’d like to think that Rovers are doing things the right way. By continuing to attract large crowds to Tallaght, it provides a great financial base for Rovers to compete for the best players in Ireland. Pretty sure that all our new players this season were signed as free agents so we aren’t paying transfer fees. Challenge now, as you say, is to try and develop some players of our own to come into team. Sean Gannon looks a very good prospect. Macdara

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