Sunday 20 October 2019

Fabulous football in all shapes and sizes

Weird Wide World of Sport

David McMillan of Dundalk is tackled by New Ross native Ryan Delaney of Cork City during the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cupfinal at the Aviva Stadium
David McMillan of Dundalk is tackled by New Ross native Ryan Delaney of Cork City during the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cupfinal at the Aviva Stadium

Dave Devereux

I watched plenty of soccer over the weekend (possibly a little too much for the liking of my long-suffering missus).

None of it was from what most would consider the upper echelons of the beautiful game, but I like my football in all varieties; anything from the lowest division of a local Junior league to a World Cup final can pique my interest.

I watched a couple of games in the flesh: the Continental Tyres Women's League decider as Wexford Youths pitted their wits against Peamount United, and the Oscar Traynor Trophy clash where Dublin's finest from the Athletic Union League tackled a well-oiled Wexford Football League machine.

Then in the comfort of my own home I settled on to my well-worn groove on the sofa to enjoy the FAI Cup final between the country's top dogs, Cork City and Dundalk.

I also found time over the weekend to take in the odd bit of FA Cup action, where pretty much unheard of non-league outfits got their day in the sun against clubs in the lower echelons of the football league.

Proper football where there's a genuine connection between players and fans, where you get to cheer on a local lad who delivers your milk during the week and dons the club colours at weekends.

For once I managed to completely avoid the Premier League pantomime altogether, without suffering any withdrawal symptoms. Oh no you didn't. Oh yes I did!

Of course, I couldn't resist the odd check of my phone to see if Manchester City continued their stunning start to the campaign by lording it over Arsenal, and if Chelsea and Manchester United was, as predicted by most, as tight as a mallard's behind.

Anyway, back to what I did watch, and not what I didn't.

Anybody doubting the virtues of the women's game on these shores would definitely have been forced into a re-think had they attended the league showdown between Wexford Youths and Peamount United in Ferrycarrig Park on Saturday evening.

There was unquestionably no shortage of skill on show, with a superbly-executed strike from Emma Hansberry just before the interval the stand-out moment, and Rianna Jarrett's wonderful hold-up play, well-taken goal and all-round performance was a joy to behold.

My next port of call on Sunday morning was some Oscar Traynor Trophy action, a tournament where it's refreshing to see the effort the players put in for the pride in the jersey and the hope of lifting a prized piece of silverware at the end of the campaign.

I was relishing the cup final between arch-rivals Cork and Dundalk, although given what's happened in recent times it was as close to a certainty as you could get that it was never going to be a goal-fest.

The match may have taken a while to really get going, but how anyone could choose to watch an early-season game between two teams that are vying for second place at best, Chelsea and Manchester United, beaming from across the water, over the showpiece from our national league is beyond me.

The Aviva showdown was certainly a slow-burner, but the mounting tension as the game wore on made for a great watch.

First Dundalk looked to have the cup in their grasp, then Cork snatched it away from them, with the Leesiders eventually prevailing after the drama of a penalty shoot-out.

Our domestic season may have now drawn to a close, but there's still plenty of football out there for anybody willing to open their minds.

With the evenings closing in quicker than a determined Kyle Walker on an indecisive winger, everybody should make the most of the few hours of daylight that we do get by visiting a local football field to watch a men's, women's, schoolboys' or schoolgirls' game, instead of remaining rooted to the couch or a bar stool.

You won't have to look too hard; there's plenty of football out there.

You may have to lower your expectations a rung or two down the ladder, but the game doesn't begin and end with the English Premier League.

Wexford People

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