The Only Way Is Up (How Summer Soccer Has Helped Restore European Pride)

by Brian Kennedy

(first published in the July 2009 Limerick programme)

 

Even the most harsh of summer soccer critics would have to admit that the change to a season where we’re supposed to have good weather (and ends up with more rain in July than five Novembers put together) has been of benefit to League of Ireland clubs. Bohemians’ great result in Austria last week, along with Derry and St Pat’s avoiding defeat (although Athletic’s result would be considered poor under the circumstances) has kept the healthy trend of Irish clubs generally doing well in European competition.

In that time it’s safe to say we’ve gone from the days of a moral victory every 4/5 years to a League that has flirted with actually qualifying for the group stages of European football.

Of course Shelbourne remain the obvious one (holding Deportivo scoreless in Ireland – and not even in their own ground as Lansdowne was the venue) in the third qualifying round of the Champions League, but there has been significant progress by the likes of Cork City & Drogheda as well in the UEFA Cup in recent years.

When we first entered Europe via Drumcondra in 1958, the Dubliners lost 13-1 on aggregate to Athletico Madrid. Last season LoI clubs played 14 games – won 6, drew 4 and lost 4. In fact only once in the last ten seasons has a League of Ireland club failed to win in Europe (that came in 2002/03)

The League was once ranked 52nd of 56 Leagues in Europe, today we are a healthy enough 31st and hopefully on the up. Although Bohemians still have work to do to qualify, I remain optimistic that we might finally see an Irish side play in a European group stage, though that will likely come in the Europa League. And to think, if it wasn’t for two balls on a field in the last four minutes of a game in 2004, we’d have been entertaining Carmarthen Town in the first qualifying round of the UEFA Cup!

 

League of Ireland Clubs in Europe

Individual Match & Tie Record

Club

Seasons

P

W

D

L

F

A

Match Pts%W

 

Ties P

Ties W

Ties  L

Ties %W

Bohemians

19

48

8

12

28

31

84

29.17

 

24

5

19

20.83

Shelbourne

16

47

6

13

28

41

83

26.60

 

23

6

17

26.09

Shamrock Rovers

18

42

7

8

27

38

79

26.19

 

21

3

18

14.29

Dundalk

16

40

6

7

27

24

99

23.75

 

20

4

16

20.00

Cork City

9

26

5

4

17

15

41

26.92

 

13

4

9

30.77

Waterford United

9

22

4

1

17

21

61

20.45

 

11

2

9

18.18

Derry City (Also: Nir)

8

20

4

4

12

13

31

30.00

 

10

2

8

20.00

St Patrick’s Athletic

7

14

0

2

12

9

43

7.14

 

7

-

7

-

Drumcondra

5

12

3

0

9

11

44

25.00

 

6

1

5

16.67

Limerick

6

12

0

2

10

7

31

8.33

 

6

-

6

-

Cork Hibernians

4

10

2

1

7

9

21

25.00

 

5

1

4

20.00

Athlone Town

3

8

1

4

3

11

19

37.50

 

4

1

3

25.00

Sligo Rovers

3

8

1

1

6

5

17

18.75

 

4

1

3

25.00

Finn Harps

4

8

0

1

7

5

37

6.25

 

4

-

4

-

Drogheda United

2

6

2

1

3

5

17

41.67

 

3

1

2

33.33

Longford Town

3

6

1

1

4

6

12

25.00

 

3

-

3

-

Galway United

3

6

0

0

6

4

19

-

 

3

-

3

-

Cork Celtic

2

4

0

1

3

2

10

12.50

 

2

-

2

-

Bray Wanderers

2

4

0

1

3

1

11

12.50

 

2

-

2

-

University College Dublin

1

2

0

1

1

0

1

25.00

 

1

-

1

-

Home Farm

1

2

0

1

1

1

7

25.00

 

1

-

1

-

Total (21 clubs)

141

347

50

66

231

259

767

23.92

 

173

31

142

17.92

 

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