Busy, busy, busy!   Leave a comment

Sorry there haven’t been any posts in a while, way too much on at the minute… Hopefully, get a couple up this month!!

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Posted February 1, 2011 by irishleague301 in Uncategorized

Vote Burrows!   Leave a comment


3,860,355 views and counting! Glentoran’s, Matty Burrows’ wonder goal against Portadown has become an internet sensation and has even been nominated for FIFA’s Puskás award.

Burrows’ goal has been nominated along with Barcelona’s Lionel Messi’s goal against Valencia and Arsenal’s Samir Nasri’s goal against Porto.

The winner of last years Puskás award was Christiano Ronaldo for his strike against Porto in the Champion’s League.

“I could maybe try to do that 100 times and it would only come off once – I just caught it perfectly,” said Burrows.

The Glentoran striker’s, 92nd minute, wonder goal gave his side a 1-0 victory over Portadown. Since then he has had internet stardom.

Glentoran supporter, Matthew Brown said: “In the last 2 seasons at Glentoran (last season and so far this season) Matty Burrows has scored 18 goals in the equivalent of 13.5 games taking into consideration the time he has spent on the pitch.”

“A phenomenal return from Matty. He averages at a goal every 75 minutes over the course of 2 seasons, with a return of a goal nearly every hour played this season.”

With an Irish League player being voted for such a prestigious award, the attention will do nothing but good things for our league.

Northern Ireland legend, Gerry Armstrong, stated: “I’ve never seen a goal like it before and I think everyone should get onto the internet and get their votes in to support the local player.”

Voting will close on Monday 13th December at noon CET, so get your votes in as soon as possible.

Vote here – http://www.fifa.com/ballondor/puskasaward/index.html

Freezing Conditions Affect Fixtures   Leave a comment

Frozen Pitch

The recent sub zero conditions have already affected this seasons Carling Premiership fixtures.

Donegal Celtic’s game at home to Glenavon was suspended last weekend due to a frozen pitch, while Portadown’s midweek game against Cliftonville was also postponed.

Glenavon stated on their official website: “Due to ground conditions and health and safety concerns for supporters, today’s game has been called off.”

Tuesday night’s Co. Antrim Shield final was in doubt due to the weather but was allowed to continue despite the freezing conditions.

All of this weekend’s SPL fixtures have also been called off due to the big freeze.

With the Co-operative Insurance Cup quarter-finals being played this weekend, no-one will want to fall victim to the ice.

Co-operative Insurance Cup quarter-final fixtures:

Ballymena United v. Crusaders
Lisburn Distillery v. Newry City
Portadown v. Coleraine
Cliftonville v. Glentoran

Carling Premiership fixtures:

Donegal Celtic v. Glenavon (re-arranged)

Lack of Young Players?   1 comment

The Irish league has had some bright, young players in the past, including the likes of Glenn Ferguson, Gerard McMahon and more recently Liam Boyce.

However, in recent history there haven’t been nearly as many young players to really break through and light up the league. Is it because the clubs are bringing in more experienced players instead of calling young players up from their academies or is there just not the same talent as there once was?

Liam Boyce

Glenavon’s Mark Carson, who recently broke into the first team said: “I hope to be a regular on the team very soon but they have a good strong team at the minute and I know it won’t be easy to break in but I’m just delighted to even be a part of the squad at my age and I can only keep hoping for a chance sometime soon.”

Last summer, former Cliftonville striker Liam Boyce was signed by German giants Werder Bremen and more recently 18-year-old, Ciaran Ryan completed a surprise move from Loughgall to Brazilian side Porto Alegre FC.  Perhaps, it is just simply much harder for Irish league clubs to hold on to their star players compared to what it was ten or twenty years ago.

Are the connections between local clubs and the league teams still as strong as they used to be? There isn’t much evidence to prove that league teams are still taking young players from grass roots level. Lurgan Ladies hockey team have benefitted greatly from this structure in recent years and have now become one of the strongest teams in Ireland.

If local clubs could bring young players into the league like they used to, maybe Northern Ireland could benefit in the future. Belgium has certainly benefitted recently by blooding new, young and exciting players such as Romelu Lukaku, Axel Witsel, Eden Hazard and Simon Mignolet.

Sunderland goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet said: “If they (Belgium) could play in another World Cup or European Cup we would be very happy already. We have the talent for it, now we only have to get a team together.”

Obviously these are players with great football talent but perhaps Belgium, who, like Northern Ireland struggle to qualify for international tournaments, could be seen as an example by our wee country and the IFA could create a ruling system for teams to try and bring young players through.

Lisburn Distillery striker, Gary Liggett, said: “I was about 18 when I got my first game for Portadown. It was difficult at that stage because they had players like Gary Hamilton and Vinny Arkins there. It was hard to adapt from playing reserve team football.”

“For someone young it’s probably really important to try and not to get caught up in the whole partying and drinking culture. So common to see young players fade away who prefer to party than play football.”

The reserve league is full of young talent such as Cliftonville’s Jack Duffin and Coleraine’s Ryan Doherty. Hopefully in the next few seasons players like these can bring the league forward.

Does the Irish League Need More Television Coverage?   Leave a comment

Local television has been heavily criticized in the past, over the lack of coverage of the Irish League.

Cliftonville fan, Francis Milnes, stated: “Local football coverage in the media over here is apalling. Absolutley dreadful. The League of Ireland get a dedicated show on a Monday night, and their radio coverage of match reports are indepth, mostly unbiased, and more than 15 seconds long.”

Many fans of the Irish League feel the same as Francis but is the demand high enough that the league deserves more television broadcasting?

UTV news editor, Chris Hagan, said: “Realistically, with Irish League football it is hard to get the demand. All the evidence is that fans prefer to see either live matches or good quality highlights. UTV is committed to continuing its coverage of Irish League football.”

“UTV and BBC have an agreement with the IFA to show the games and we pay for this right. It is a big commitment for us to try and cover the league as much as possible.”

The BBC and UTV provide us with highlights and reports of the games on both their websites. They also show these highlights on their sports bulletins and the BBC provide us with “Final Score” on a Saturday.

With league attendances dropping and the lack of club revenue today, would clubs benefit from live games and a highlight show on television? More than likely attendances would take another drop because why leave the comfort of your own home or the pub to go see an Irish League game on a cold winter afternoon when you could watch the game wherever, whenever.

Many people criticise UTV and the BBC for their lack of commitment to the league and how they feel it is unfair that the League of Ireland are provided with a highlights show on RTE.

Chris Hagan stated: “We feel by expanding our website u.tv to give a dedicated highlights package to every game, every week we are providing a service that is unrivalled.”

“We have looked at a highlights programme but UTV operates in an enviroment where audience ratings are vital.”

Television coverage of the Irish league would be a fantastic benefit to local soccer but unfortunately the overall quality in the league is poor. The money that would be spent going into a televised show could be used elsewhere to provide coverage of the league.

Podcasts, for example, and more radio and internet coverage could be the way forward for the league, in a cheaper and more efficient way.

Maybe taking these smaller steps will help build up the popularity and the demand for more Irish League highlights  and one day we could be seeing a highlight show which most supporters would love to see.

Posted October 20, 2010 by irishleague301 in Uncategorized

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Marty Quinn Future In Doubt   1 comment

Glenavon manager, Marty Quinn, has thrown his future into doubt after his post match comments following the 4-1 defeat to Glentoran.

The blues have failed to win any of their last seven games and have only picked up one point from a possible twenty-one.

Quinn stated after the match: “I’m doing a lot of soul searching and thinking over the weekend as to whether I can continue as manager of Glenavon FC because at the end of the day I am responsible for the team that went on the park today, I am responsible for the result and I am responsible for the indiscipline within the team.”

 

Marty Quinn

 

Marty Quinn took over as manager of Glenavon in 2009, after leaving Bangor, and helped the club avoid relegation that season by only losing just one of his first nine games in charge of the club.

Since then he has helped the club avoid relegation again, in the 2009/2010 season. He helped the club to an 8th place finish.

The Glenavon Board of Directors said: “The Board of Directors is fully in support of Marty Quinn and there will be no change of management at Mourneview Park.”

“Results wise it has been a difficult time for the club over the last month or so, yet in many games, despite some indifferent performances, there was little between the teams. Now is the time for the Glenavon family to rally behind him.”

During the close season the manager has brought in players such as Gary Hamilton, Kyle Neill and Sammy Stewart to try and improve his squad. Results may take a turn for the better once star striker and local man Hamilton returns to full fitness.

Hamilton has played for clubs such as Portadown and Glentoran and will no doubt help the club get out of their current situation.

Ralph Hewitt, treasurer of the Triangle supporters club, said: “Marty needs to complete the remainder of his contract, which has this season and to Christmas the following season to go.”

“Whilst he openly admits making mistakes,  his biggest mistake sometimes is showing too much loyalty to certain players by playing underperformers week in week out. Supporters as well as the board are 100% behind him.”

Glenavon supporter, Joshua Thornbury, has shown his support for the manager: “If we sack Marty Quinn we’ll only be making a step back and all his hard work and improvement will certainly be undone.”

“We’ve had previous inexperienced managers who haven’t done the job, McBride, Cochrane and Malone, people who don’t know one tenth about the game in comparison with Marty. He has to stay. We would really be stupid to let a man of his calibre go”.

Marty Quinn has managed Lisburn Distillery, Cliftonville, Coleraine and Bangor throughout his career. His most successful spell came with Cliftonville where he won the Coca-Cola Cup 95/96, the Co. Antrim Shield 96/97 and the Irish League title in 1998. He also won the Irish Cup with Coleraine in 2003.

3G Pitches – Good or Bad for the Game?   Leave a comment

Crusaders, Cliftonville, who will be the next Irish League club to move on from the grass pitch?

The opposition of the 3G turf feels that the ball does not have that natural bounce and is much more capable of injuring the players. Even the slide tackle has been said to have suffered because the players feel they will get injured on the turf.

Glenavon fan, Andrew Collins stated: “Awful pitches, second rate and no matter what people say they are nowhere near as good as grass.”

Perhaps the entire game is suffering because of the pitch, it could be offering a strong and unfair advantage to the home side.

Cliftonville received their new pitch thanks to the IFA’s “football turf project”, which allowed one club in the league to receive a grant and install the synthetic surface.

The IFA said: “Each phase of Goal funding is capped at $400,000 so this will allow the Association to undertake one project under this phase.”

Could this money be put elsewhere in the local game to help support our grassroots football communities and even advertise our league to help it become a stronger force in European football? By helping fund our grassroots it would eventually have an impact on our national team by giving young players better facilities and coaching.

Perhaps the money could be used for other needs but there are always advantages to these pitches.

 

Cliftonville's new 3G pitch

 

Irish FA Club Licensing and Facilities Manager David McVeigh commented: “The Irish FA is pleased to be in a position to assist this project (football turf project) as it supports existing facility work and ties in well with our facilities strategy. The use of synthetic playing surfaces is very much encouraged in order to maximize usage and revenue potential for the venue.”

Cliftonville and Crusaders are now in a stronger position both economically and community wise thanks to the pitch.

With the 3G surface it saves the club a huge amount of money on maintenance bills for the grass pitch, especially during the winter, and after last season’s cancellation of fixtures a lot of clubs lost revenue, especially on Boxing Day. Crusaders were the only club that were able to host most of their games during the icy period.

The clubs are now able to train on their pitch instead of having to pay for another piece of land so their grounds surface is not damaged.

Local footballing groups would be able to rent the pitch for mini tournaments or the club could just allow the pitch tobe used whenever it is needed, helping the community and their fans.

Ballymena United fan, Alistair McIlroy said: “It definitely has its benefits, can be used 24/7, requires little maintenance, can be used by community groups/local clubs and can create much needed revenue for clubs who have them.”

The popularity of our league looks set to be taking a boost as well, with the visit of Premiership side, Bolton Wanderers, to Solitude Park on Monday 15th November, to mark the official opening of their 3G facilities.

Cliftonville Chairman, Gerard Lawlor, is looking forward to the occasion: “Theirs is a squad which, thanks to their weekly exploits on Match of the Day and Sky Sports, is very familiar to us and we are really looking forward to seeing them in action on our doorstep and against our own homegrown stars – it will be a fantastic night for them and everyone at Cliftonville.”

Maybe the synthetic pitch is a lot more popular than most people expected, especially since another two clubs were hoping to get the new pitch.

The IFA stated: “Three applications were received and assessed and Cliftonville FC was identified as the successful club.”

Well no matter what your view on the 3G synthetic pitch they are definitely on the up and if your club was planning to get one, would you argue considering the economics of it and how it could help your club for the better.

After all if it is good enough for CSKA Moscow, one of the top European teams, is it good enough for our league?