Come on you Reds!
I'm currently living in Cork, Ireland and have been since June last year. Every now and again I go to watch Cork City. I went to the match last night against Derry City. I opened my programme to the back page and to my surprise I saw number 15 Christian Nanetti! in the cork squad. He was a sub and didn't come on.
For those of you on here who don't recognise the name. He played a few games for us a number of years ago. Had a lot of skill but not much else and soon moved on to Lewes who paid him more than we could.
Re: Christian Nanetti
I think he played in the first few months of Dave Anderson's time at the club. He was very skillful but definitely not a team player.
Re: Christian Nanetti
I haven't been on one of these forums for yonks. It reckoned I hadn't acknowledged a confirmation e-mail, so I clicked for a confirmation e-mail.
When I came back 'ere from acknowledging the new confirmation e-mail link, it told me the link had expired. Three times!
Couldn't re-register on my old e-mail address, or under my name, coz they're already registered. Apparently.
And that's on all of these forums, not just this one.
Nanetti divided opinion at Lewes, where he was presumably on a fair wedge.
Anyhow, Cappers, point being... What do think of the League of Ireland, standardwise?
I used to watch a fair bit of it in Kilburn pubs on Friday nights before the late-noughties crash. There was money around in those days. Ex-Reading & Barnet midfielder Joe Gamble was allegedly the League's highest-paid player back then - on €4,000 per week at the old Cork club. Naturally, he settled for that to play in his home town, rather than schlep up and down England in Division Three for less money or try to get a Division Two contract for that salary. There were allegedly a few players up and down the country on not much less. Standard was pretty good. Shelbourne almost made the Champions League group stage - before the qualifiers were "dumbed down" into a "Champions" section and a "Loadsamoney" section - beating Hajduk Split & holding Deportivo La Coruna to a draw in the 1st leg of the last qualifying round.
Then came the crash. The money ran out. Cork were relegated for failing to meet financial requirements; Derry were relegated for having everyone on duplicate contracts; Shels went skint; recent champs Drogheda went skint; Limerick went skint; Galway disappeared altogether, as did the ridiculous Dublin City franchise.
When I was living just the other side of Mountjoy Prison from Dalymount Park a couple of years back, I walked around the corner to watch Bohemians a few times. They managed to finish 5th in 2015, in spite of starting at 150/1. Being frank, if they'd transferred to the Ryman Premier for the 15/16 season that August, I wouldn't have backed them each-way at 10/1. I didn't see either Dundalk or Cork live that season but, judging on results an the odd TV viewing, I'd have said Dundalk & maybe Cork might well win Connie South but not make the play-offs in Division Five. The Limerick side that started that campaign with a long winless streak wouldn't have stayed up in the Ryman Premier.
It was a strange league. Galway in particular looked as if they should be facing Hull Kingston Rovers as they emerged from the tunnel, then proceeded to attempt tippy-tap tiki-taka with no hint of an end product and a distinct lack of aggression & penetration, never mind thuggery, up front. All the teams were very "continental" by normal British Isles standards.
Last season, all the LoI teams were wiped in the opening round in Europe.
This term, Cork edged past a pre-season Linfield (who probably wouldn't stay up in Connie South) but then got past an in-season Hacken, admittedly only in Europe because they won the Swedish Cup, & only lost by the odd goal in each leg against Genk. Dundalk remarkably beat BATE Borisov, a club most people would peg as Division Two (Championship) class and lost 3-1 on aggregate to Legia in the last qualifier. They beat Maccabi Tel-Aviv & got a point at Alkmaar in the Europa League and lost their other four games only by the odd goal - including two matches against Zenit. That's a record that suggests a level a lot higher than Connie South.
I know Cork have won their first nine in the league, putting huge pressure on Dundalk, but how good would you say they are?
Edited by Alan A at 12:29:05 on 16th April 2017
Re: Christian Nanetti
I went to the Linfield and Hacken home games in the Europa League this year. Maybe against Linfield, there wasn't much in it. Without checking, I think it finished 1-1 but Cork won the 1st leg in Belfast 1-0. Linfield were actually the seeded team in that draw. In the next round, Cork deservedly beat Hacken over the two legs. I thought they were the superior team as I did watch the first leg on tv. In the second leg in Cork, the atmosphere was electric. It was a really enjoyable night. I watched the first leg against Genk in Belgium on tv and Cork played so well and were really unlucky to lose on the night. I couldn't make the second leg in Cork as I was out of the country. I also went to a league game against Sligo, which Cork surprisingly lost 2-1.
This season the only game I've been to was the recent 3-0 against Derry City. If I'm not mistaken, Derry are traditionally one of the stronger sides in the league but they were completely outplayed by Cork over the 90 minutes. It was a very comfortable win.
I really enjoy watching Cork. They play good football. Look to get the ball down the wings. It's so difficult to say what level they are at comparing it to the English pyramid. I think the league is mixed in terms of ability but I'm sure Cork must be above Conference South level. I would probably say they are Conference National level at the very least but most of the other teams in the league would be Conference South at an estimate. Teams like Cork and Dundalk may even be able to hold their own in the football league. Dundalk lost very narrowly in both games against Zenit St Petersburg. I remember they beat the Israeli team at home as well. They are certainly no mugs. Of course the Irish teams must raise their games for the European matches but even so, they are at a decent level. It's hard for me to say really because in England, I'm only used to watching Ryman Premier or Premier League football and nothing in between.
In terms of tickets and programmes. At Cork, they charge 15 euros for adults and 3 euros for the programme. I bought a programme for the first time for the Derry match and it was a total let down. Other than the standard few paragraphs from the board and the manager everything else was just advertising.
Re: Christian Nanetti
I have been over to Galway the past couple of summers and on each occasion watched a game. I saw them lose in the cup to Dundalk who were clearly a better outfit and then i saw them lose last season to Bray Wanderers i believe, in a pretty drab performance. The people i were with, reckoned that Hemel Hempstead Town would easily have beaten both sides. I couldnt really argue with that. Its quite strange as the facilities are of a very good standard, the crowds are quite high and it seems very 'professional' compared to Boro, Hemel etc, but the actual football is probably quite even albeit Dundalk last season in Europe were very very good.
Re: Christian Nanetti
It's strange to see the League of Ireland clubs doing so well on Europe, given my perception of the standards. I think Genk had the highest UEFA co-efficient of any team Cork could have come out against in that draw.
In the season I saw a bit of, Dundalk's Richie Towell was easily the league's best player. I think he was overall top scorer in the league, despite playing as a midfielder. (He was a somewhat defensive midfielder when he has on loan at Hibs, having not made it at Celtic.) He went to Brighton at the end of that 2015 season & has struggled to get near the 1st team. Clearly that was a high bar, as they finished 3rd last term and look set to win it this year, but he's made just one Championship appearance this season and had a couple of starts in the FA Cup.
The two Dundalk players who moved to Preston in the transfer window a few months ago have done better. The winger Daryl Horgan seems to be in the XI almost as often as he's on the bench, while the big centre-half Andy Boyle looks to be first reserve at #5 and has got a few starts.
Given the economic woes in Ireland over the past few years, it's slightly odd that young players are not attempting to try their luck in England, if the LoI is genuinely of Conference standard or above. After the Derry duplicate contracts comedy and the other cases of clubs going skint, the FAI introduced strict licensing and financial monitoring procedures. Obviously brown envelopes still find their way into kitbags - and Damien Duff's salary was being openly sponsored in a brief spell at Shamrock Rovers last year - but wages are scrutinised and publicised. In 2015, the highest-paid player in the league's top division was on €1,000 per week. Average wage for a contracted top division player was €400. Those are 40-week contracts; players don't get paid outside the season. Things will have improved in the past two years. The likes of Cork, Dundalk & Shamrock Rovers are full-time. So are newly-promoted Limerick for that matter. The former €200,000 per year star Joe Gamble is "strength & conditioning coach" at Limerick (!) and took temporary charge when they sacked their promotion-winning manager after 7 games a fortnight ago, so they clearly have money. Bohemians are part-time - which is realistic. €500pw might be a fair salary for a 20-year-old in Dublin, but it won't exactly entice a married man with a half-decent job to jack-in his career. As you are doubtless aware, the average player at Hemel is on that. The average player at Maidenhead is on a lot more than that. For a young LoI player, a full-time contract in Division Five in England should be worth busting a gut for.
Bohemians did a good matchday programme. They do, however, attempt to be Dulwich Hamlet - with some success - and they have a long history from which Hamletesque fans and other anorak contributors can source articles.
I plan to go over for the Wexford v. Kilkenny Leinster hurling semi-final on June 10th - assuming Wexford get that far. I'd intended to take in a LoI game, probably Bohs. Sod's Law dictates that it's an international weekend, so there are no LoI fixtures. I don't think many LoI players will be lining-up to face Austria at Lansdowne Road.
Edited by Alan A at 19:38:14 on 16th April 2017