Better to be focussing on a winning team rather than one that’s struggling, and as Dundalk were prominent through the season just completed, Gavin McLaughlin, who doubles as this paper’s Sports Editor and soccer corr – ably assisted in the latter role by Padraig Whelan - has had more better Monday mornings than ones where he would rather stay in bed than make the trip around to Crowe Street from his home on the Dublin Road.
Ever since Stephen Kenny’s side shrugged aside the 4-1 defeat by Drogheda in the opening round of the Airtricity League back in March, Gavin’s magic machine probably bounced off the desk, as the story of this victory and the next one made it on to the screen.
Okay, so sports writers are not supposed to be biased, but when your coverage is for local consumption, you subconsciously row in, only marginally avoiding using the word ‘we’.
To get the premier competition underway, McLaughlin, along with Whelan and Robbie Rafferty, came together to produce a fine 16-page supplement. In it, prominent media people were asked to give an opinion on Dundalk’s chances for the season. Bear in mind that the Lilywhites, coming under Kenny’s guidance for the first time, had finished runners-up in the 2013 league having pushed St Patrick’s all the way to the line.
None of the nine queried thought Dundalk would go one better; but three said there’d be a runner-up finish, while another predicted a cup win, which, of course, there was. But what about Gav?
Assessing the chances of all 12 teams, he wrote of Dundalk: “With a good blend of experience and youth as well as possessing arguably the league’s most versatile squad, who’s to say the title cannot return to the town for the first time since 1995.” Prediction? 1st.
Good on you, young man - and though you’re not known as one who makes a bookie’s officer your second, or even Saturday, home, the hope is that you took some of the 6/1 Bar-One offered about the title coming to Oriel. St Pat’s were 9/4 favs to retain their crown, while there was 16/1 available about Cork City, the narrow runners-up.
Bar-One gave a rather cramped 13/8 about the Lilies winning one of the three cup competitions, which they did, but were much more generous with their odds about Patrick Hoban being top scorer and his team winning the title. Anyone who took the 66/1 would have been feeling good going into the last night of league action, but St Pats’ FAI Cup hero Christy Fagan bagged his 20th goal of the Premier Division campaign against Sligo Rovers, putting him level with the Town’s sharpshooter.
Still, it would have been alright for Hoban’s supporters – by my reckoning they’d have been entitled to a fair chunk of the 66/1 to their dough.