So what stories did we bring you this year? Dundalk v Cork City in the FAI Cup final, difficulties for Bray Wanderers, the Boys in Green struggling in competitive action, Shamrock Rovers cup famine continuing and some stats on attendances.
If they seem familiar, it is because those topics seem to be perennial articles; tales ready to be rolled out each and every year but please hang on, don’t go away – we did have some new stories this year, as well as a twist or two on some of those familiar tales. Macdara Ferris looks back on what you, the extratime.ie reader, clicked on the most in 2018.
We are lucky to have plenty of quotable managers in the league and Stephen Henderson is always worth a listen to. Andrew Dempsey caught up with the Cobh Ramblers boss before the start of the season and during an insightful chat Henderson had this analogy about the work required in Cobh.
“When we went in, the club was on her knees. Wait, no, she wasn’t on her knees – she was crawling on her belly. And that’s the truth.”
Dundalk have dominated the League of Ireland over the last five years but is that about to change with the departure of Stephen Kenny from the manager’s position in the Oriel Park dugout? Just after Kenny was installed last month as the new Republic of Ireland under-21 manager, with the senior team role awaiting him in 2020, Dave Donnelly had a look at seven potential candidates for the Dundalk job. At the time of writing, we await official confirmation but the announcement of the Vinny Perth and John Gill combined coaching ticket is expected before new year.
Who will replace Stephen Kenny as Dundalk manager? We look at seven potential candidates https://t.co/SluqsRtdf5— Dave Donnelly (@YeSecondPost) December 2, 2018
We broke the news that Shelbourne were naming 26-year-old Dave O’Connor as their new CEO back in April. The former Shamrock Rovers defender, and extratime.ie columnist, was part of changes behind the scenes at Tolka Park with Andrew Doyle coming in as a new investor with the Reds.
Having a First Division club knock out top flight opposition in the FAI Cup will always generate interest. Add in the fact that non-Shamrock Rovers fans delight in seeing the ongoing failure of the “cup specialists” and that pushes Ger Grimes’ match report from United Park that night into the Top 20 most read articles.
It was a dramatic night in Drogheda as the home team dumped the Hoops out of the cup at the very first hurdle. Former Rovers B-team striker Chris Lyons got the winner from the penalty spot as the Drogs exploited the dismissal of Lee Grace following the peno incident to inflict more cup misery on Rovers who have failed to add to their 24 FAI Cup wins now in over three decades.
Great photo by Larry McQuillan on @ExtratimeNews of Chris Lyons scoring against his former club to knock the Hoops out on a special cup night for Drogheda. The ball girl’s reaction is same as mine after that early cup exit pic.twitter.com/rYAyz9mZiE— Macdara Ferris (@macdarabueller) August 10, 2018
Our intrepid extatime.ie reporter travelled to Russia for last summer’s World Cup in Russia and amongst the many articles penned across the five matches attended, two of the World Cup postcards made the Top 20. First up was this description of a couple of days in Kaliningrad taking in the B-team game by the Baltic Sea between Belgium and England.
Despite the herculean efforts of nine-man Shelbourne, Drogheda United prevailed on penalties after a night of high-drama at a rocking Tolka Park with Mark Doyle’s spotkick in the shootout sealing the deal for the Boynesiders.
That was how Andrew Dempsey called it in his opening paragraph for the Promotion play-off game back in October and it doesn’t need any further embellishment in summarising it here for our Top 20 list.
We caught up with Cabinteely defender Jack Tuite back in August for an in-depth interview when he spoke to Brendan Graham about his time with Derby County and how he is now balancing a part-time job, studying for a college degree and playing with the Stradbrook side in the First Division.
On the opening night of the league campaign, then reigning champions Cork City left it late to get the winner over the Saints. John Caulfield’s men scored twice in the opening 11 minutes, before losing Graham Cummins to a first half red card and losing their lead by the first minute of the second half. Kieran Sadlier got the winner for the Leesiders though on the banks of the Camac with an 82nd minute stirker. This is how Simon O’Gorman saw the game:
A late bolter into our Top 20 was our report on the mid-December meeting of South Dublin County Council where information was shared with the elected officials on the council plan to complete a fourth stand in Tallaght Stadium. The capacity of the home venue used by Shamrock Rovers looks set to increase to 10,000 with the addition of the new stand. In addition, the council are planning to put an additional floor above the Glenmalure Suite in the existing main (west) stand. At a projected cost of €5m, the council will begin the Part 8 planning process during 2019.
Do they still have a ‘What happened next?’ round on BBC’s ‘A Question of Sport’? If so, this incident from Stradbrook would be a contender for the long running TV sports show.
What was your favourite moment/story in Irish football in 2018. Comment below or tweet us on @ExtraTimeNews