League of Ireland Premier Division, Oriel Park, 16/8/19
Dundalk Football Club
Nicknames; The Town, The Lillywhites
Honours; League of Ireland 1932–33, 1962–63, 1966–67, 1975–76, 1978–79,1981–82, 1987–88, 1990–91, 1994–95, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018. FAI Cup-1941–42, 1948–49, 1951–52, 1957–58, 1976–77,1978–79, 1980–81, 1987–88, 2001–02, 2015, 2018. League Cup-1977–78, 1980–81, 1986–87, 1989–90, 2014, 2017
Random Fact ; A fan group in the 80s and 90s used to call themselves the Mujahideen (clearly pre-Islamophobia)
This was part of a holiday Wee Man and I were on, basically based in Belfast and driving to different areas of Ireland every day(Possibly the best holiday I have been on). The Friday saw us heading to League of Ireland Champions Dundalk. This was via a stop in Newry (how many pubs does one town need?), Narrow Water Castle Keep where the scenery is very bonnie, Ballymacdermott Court Tomb which is right up my street as it’s a tomb dating back to circa 3500BC.But it’s up the Ballmcdermott Mountain and the views were stunning, made better by the awesome weather. Only issue was falling in a rabbit hole and destroying my ankle. This obviously much to the amusement of Wee Man, so much so it was the first thing he told the taxi driver from Aberdeen airport to home. After this we headed to Dundalk for a nosey and the game
Something that becomes very apparent when you get to Dundalk. It’s a town very proud of its football team. Numerous houses are decked out with black and white or club flags. The same goes for the bars around the place. Good to see if you ask me. In the touristy shop that I got my fridge magnet (im a geek, yes I know) the woman seemed genuinely impressed we had made the effort to head to Oriel Park. For two reasons, one being we are Aberdonian and the other being the fact we were based in Belfast. Even though Belfast is an hour away at a push.
Oriel Park, not somewhere I thought I would ever end up but life throws curve balls and due to LOI games being on Friday nights I thought it would be rude not to pay a visit while in the vicinity. It reminds me of a Highland League ground. That’s not derogatory in anyway just what it made me think of. A main grandstand and a shed on the other wing with nothing behind the goals. I liked it to be honest, barring the plastic pitch. Pre-game we were allowed into the Lillywhites Lounge. Tidy wee supporters bar that, complete with friendly locals. The security guys were also good dudes and were in the same boat as me in describing Europe pointless for Scottish and Irish teams. Maybe the facts The Town had been knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday by Slovan Bratislava and The Dons pumped out by Rijeka the night before had left us a bit raw. But in all honesty it’s the truth. UEFA don’t want Scottish or Irish teams in their tournaments its more than clear these days.
The game was always going to go one way. When Wee Man asked who was going to win I said it would be really easy for Dundalk. This stuck with him all day. The reason being Dundalk were top and the Harps were second bottom and not shy of a do-in. This even led me to wager on a 3.5 goals or more. Good bet and correct prediction. This game was never a contest. It should have been a lot more than five as well, but due to a combination of poor finishing and very decent goalkeeping from the Harps number one , who probably wasn’t number one as he was number forty. If he isn’t first choice he did his chances no harm (sounds daft given he conceded five). The first goal took longer than expected. Maybe around the thirty five minute mark through Daniel Kelly, this opening the flood gates. Not long after The Harps were reduced to ten after Russell was sent packing for his second booking just before the half. His first booking was a red card if you ask me and he shouldn’t have lasted so long. A clear and malicious deliberate elbow. The second half was an exhibition from Dundalk with George Kelly starting a ten minute three goal burst and Patrick McEleney wrapping things up with his second in the last minute.
Five goals was a good way to celebrate my first ever venture into the Republic of Ireland. Making money off it too also helps. But it was more than that. The atmosphere was decent for the ninety. There were around two and half thousand there and it was noisier than Pittodrie. Again we had spoken to decent people and to make it all better Wee Man loved it. Oriel Park. A great addition to our father son holiday. We should have went to Bohemians v UCD though. 10-1 it finished
Once Wee Man was bedded in the hotel I decided this was to be a yearly thing due to the enjoyment we had had so far. This and the incredible father son bonding. So next year we would are to head to Finn Harps then on to their opponents the following year and so on.
Me 153 and Wee Man 28