Category: Archive

Soccer Scene: Summer soccer needs a summer crowd

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Every time the camera caught the derelict and abandoned terraces in the background it somewhat took away from a very entertaining game. Setanta Sports must have felt really good about the standard of the game, but they also know that lack of crowd participation hurts the televising of the event.
“I’m Derry ’til I die. I’m Derry ’til I die. I know I am because I am,
I’m Derry ’til I die,” was the chant when in the 16th minute Killian Brennan struck a world class volley into the upper left hand corner of the Shelbourne goal.
Shels keeper Dean Delaney had no chance. Admittedly, Brennan had a bit of luck when a rebounded ball dropped beautifully for him from the initial Derry effort on goal. But in the ball flew as Brennan showed some first class poise and technique getting his body over the ball.
However, the point is that not seeing the fans chanting, singing and celebrating the goal takes away the entertainment value of a televised game.
Now if we were to see such a strike in an English Premier League game you’d have to lower the volume on the TV.
The camera did catch the ever loyal Derry diehards in one section of the Tolka ground but that’s all there was – just one section.
It was a shame really because the opening 15 minutes had all the signs
that this was going to be a very good game. Shels put Derry under some very
early pressure but their attack was slow and predictable.
Derry on the other hand were more decisive and quicker in their raids
into the Shels box.
In fact Derry’s possession was truly impressive. Some good first time
passes and clever movement off the ball caught Shels out of shape. The back
to back champions, as they tried to push on for an equalizer, were finding
it difficult to contain Derry’s attack, an attack that new Derry coach
Stephen Kenny has obviously polished up a great deal.
Brennan’s confidence grew and the more he got on the ball the more
vulnerable the Shels defense looked.
Within six minutes of his strike he was at it again, this time as the
provider. And there was no luck involved with this one. Brennan picked the
ball up in the final third and threaded a classy through ball to Mark
Shels could do nothing to defend. Then all Shels could do was watch when
Farren’s first touch left everybody for dead. With excellent composure and
seemingly all the time in the world the ball flew past an oncoming and
helpless Delaney into the corner.
Nice. Very nice. Two nil.
Derry were on fire now playing very entertaining football. But there was
a feeling that Shels were not quite finished. Derry’s Kenny knew that the
second half would require some serious defending by his Candy Stripes.
Shels came out fro the second period a very determined side and began to
put pressure on Derry right away.
Scrambles in the Derry box and woodwork scares eventually took a toll on
the northerners. Just before the hour, Shels carved a great move down their
right flank to produce yet another world class goal.
It was a brilliant team effort. The very clever and uncanny skill of
Cameroon international Joseph Ndo was the basis of some creative passing out
wide. Baker combined and broke away from the pack to cross the ball.
Jason Byrne met the ball with a diving header that gave the outstanding
Derry keeper, David Forde, no chance on earth. Game on.
Shels attacked and continued to do so for the remainder of the game. But
Derry, it seemed, were prepared to play out the second half in a defensive
mode. They were compact around their goal as Forde continued to keep
Shels at bay. What a win for Derry as Kenny’s boys threw fists into the air
at the final whistle.
More importantly, what an entertaining game of football both sides
produced for the Eircom League. Both clubs can be very proud of the standard
of play. Should they continue to push for such standards, surely the crowds
will come back. Or will they?
This was a first class game of ball that had everything in it. Top notch
goals with some very good possession football to boot. There was also some
very clever defending by Derry with some marvelous goalkeeping by Forde.
And the refereeing was also top drawer. What more do the fans or Eircom
supporters in general want? It was believed that playing summer football
would bring the fans back to the stands. Apparently this is not happening,
even with better football as was the case in this game. Perhaps there was
more interest in Wimbledon tennis, Live 8 and U2.
The question is, will soccer fans other than Eircom supporters watch
games on TV, never mind go to the games. It’s unlikely that Irish domestic
football will catch the imagination of the public in general. It’s unlikely
that youth soccer is geared towards making it ‘big’ in the Eircom league.
If that was the case wouldn’t we see more youth at the games. The dream
to play at the Eircom level exists only with a few. That dream is outweighed
by the far bigger one making it across the water in English football.
As for the general public, same thing. They’d rather watch a foreign
soccer game; or indeed spend a small fortune traveling to one. The growth of
the Eircom League will depend on the next generation because this one isn’t
turning up.
Still, based on the Shels and Derry game, the standard is at least
improving. And there is one avenue that, perhaps, will bring the crowds
marching back to Eircom League games: success in European competition.

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