Richmond Park, 23rd March 2016
Coming on the back of Dundalk’s defeat to Cork and St. Pats’ victories over Bohs and Shamrock Rovers, a victory here for the home side would have sent shock waves through the world of football. Could the Dundalk empire be about to crumble? Was this the end of an era? Could life on earth as we know it be about to change?
Pats actually played pretty well and seemed to have much more of the ball throughout. Mark Timlin, the new signing from Derry, looks like he could be the maverick genius Pats have been lacking since Forrester’s belated departure last year. But Dundalk, even post-Towell, were as clinical as ever and, in Daryl Horgan, have possibly the league’s best player since Séamus Coleman.
Nevertheless as four-nils go it was a fairly compelling contest between Buckley and Kenny, the league’s two most aesthetically pure coaches. The match reports on ExtraTime.ie, the Irish Times and the Independent all fundamentally concurred on the fact that this was actually a fairly close affair.
One of the few positives of the scant coverage of League of Ireland in the national media is the fact that match reports remain primarily exercises in description rather than conjecture. The saturated coverage of the Premier League has led to newspaper match reports becoming infected by banal analysis. Obviously a match report requires some level of analysis on the part of the writer in order to convey who was the better team, who were the best individual performers and what the styles of play of the teams were. This is all of interest to the individual who was unable to watch the match. However if everyone has already seen the goals/incidents/full game then description and reportage become unnecessary. Premier League match reports are now primarily opinion pieces, usually by people you’ve never heard of, repeating the same old boring shit about whether or not Wenger needs to go or who should replace Van Gaal. League of Ireland match reports, on the other hand, still need to fulfil their primary function of informing the reader as to what actually happened during the match. As a consequence they retain their usefulness and have avoided becoming just filler like the vast majority of Premier League pieces.
There is just too much football coverage by people with nothing to say. I previously wrote about the fallacy of retrospective tactical analysis here. But at least that has some vague method behind it. Dull podcasts containing men and women just blandly discussing the issues of the day are unbearable. Is there anyone in the world who hasn’t undergone a lobotomy who needs to consume more debate about whether or not Wenger is the right man for Arsenal?
This is not to say that football isn’t an important cultural event nor that it should not be discussed. I happen to find the fawning over Gary Neville’s punditry to be over the top however he does at least offer some sort of detailed match analysis as opposed to just repeating hackneyed banalities. And, as Dion Fanning rightly commented in his piece on John Giles’ retirement from his at RTÉ, as Ireland’s most prominent football analyst he has been one of the country’s most significant cultural voices over the past 30 years.
It’s the chatter, as Eco puts it, that gets to me. It’s just an unbearable waste of time. If sport is, as he puts it, ultimately a waste of our energy and talking about sport is an even bigger waste of time, then surely the vast majority of football coverage now, which is usually produced by journalists commenting on other areas of the football media rather than on matches themselves, is the ultimate waste of time and energy.
And this article is no different.