Ah the Christmas season a great time in the football with fixtures coming thick and fast at least that’s how it was in the SSE Airtricity League up until the change to summer football. I used to look forward to the Sligo Rovers game on St. Stephen’s Game which was almost always away, two that come to mind were games against Monaghan United. The Monaghan one was memorable as Rovers won 6-1 and everyone was just – naturally – in great form. Monaghan are not sadly defunct having folded midway during the 2012 season and they were a huge loss to the league. Very well run but always struggled to make an impact with both the local business community and the local community as well. They had been promoted but struggled to find a main sponsor and made the decision to fold rather than run up huge debts. The ground is still there, and they have returned at under-age level in the past couple of seasons so hopefully that will see them return to the league in the coming years.
The Harps game was memorable but not for the football. It was an incredibly stormy day with strong Atlantic breezes battering the North West of Ireland and we were away to Harps who are based in Donegal. Still the radio on the morning said that the game was on, so I headed off with a couple of mates of mine in a Ford Fiesta. There is a narrow road forged between two mountains on the way to Ballybofey called the ‘Windy Gap’ and well it lived up to it’s name on the day as the Fiesta was rocked and blown from one side of the road to the other. But still the radio were reporting that the game was on. We made it to Finn Park only to be told that the referee had just called the match off because of the high winds and you could see why as the floodlights were swinging, still I’m sure the decision could have been made earlier!! It wasn’t a complete bust as we did manage to get a copy of the match programme which would now become a collector’s item – priority and all! And we survived the ‘Gap’ on the way back.
Anyways that is a thing of the past now with Summer football very much being the long-term future for the League. One thing that hasn’t changed is the League being a fertile ground for picking up bargains for cross channel managers and once again Dundalk have been raided. Their talismatic striker David McMillan has completed his move to Scottish Premier League side St. Johnstone and their attacking midfielder Patrick McEleney has signed for English League One side Oldham Athletic. Both players were out of contract and aged over 24 so there were no transfer fees involved and Dundalk lost two of their best players for nothing. It is a repeat of last year when Andy Boyle and Daryl Horgan both left to sign for Preston North End. Dundalk though were expecting both McMilland McEleney to leave and have been busy looking to replace them. Another played on the move was highly rated Bohemian FC holding midfielder Fuad Sule who signed for English League Two side Barnet FC for an undisclosed fee. And in a bit of a left field move former Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers midfielder Darren Meenan is set to sign for Belgian Fourth Division side RWD Molenbeek. The Brussels based side are currently top of their league and Meenan has flown to Belgium to complete the free transfer.