|Picture courtesy of Paul Elliott|
Drogheda Utd 2, Blues 1
The long closed season wait for Blues fans came to an end last Friday night in the North East against Drogheda United but the travelling fans there must have come away with a strong sense of déjà vu....unless things improve soon the season ahead could be another very long one. An opening day defeat is always hard to stomach and title favourites Limerick at home next week will be a big challenge. Another defeat and the uphill struggle begins.....
True, the Blues put in a much better second half - they won it in terms of possession, territory and goals but the reality is that they came away with nothing.
The game was lost in the first half. Drogheda took the lead after only five minutes before the Blues had even settled. The killer goal was scored one minute from the break. After that it was always going to be difficult.
A decent crowd of Blues supporters made the long trip and as usual they pumped out constant support for the team, thoroughly outperforming the home supports. The attendance on the night was 500/660 including about nearly 100 Blues.
There can surely be no more awful place that United Park in Drogheda on a cold damp night. It really is a dreadful venue, with few redeeming venues. It is actually worse than Tolka Park - says it all. Teams arriving there suffer depression.
Roddy lined out his team with eight Blue competitive debutantes. Only Shane Mackey, Aaron O'Connor and Anthony McAlavey of last year's squad started. It was difficult to pick out any real stand outs on the night but there was plenty of effort all round. David O'Leary will take very few prisoners in the season ahead; that's for sure. Anthony McAlavey worked his socks off all night and might have found the net during the first half had he connected properly with a pull back. Eoin Rhodes impressed up front. He opened his Blues scoring account just after the break to get the Blues well back in contention and he had a couple of good chances in the last quarter to ensure a share of the spoils but it was not to be. One to watch however.
The journey back to Waterford was a long one for the fans but their enthusiasm will remain strong for the time being. Blues fans are amongst the very best in Ireland. That said a win or two is needed in the next few weeks and hopefully this new squad will settle and deliver the goods.
Match referee Adriano Reale gave a reasonable account of himself but like most of his colleagues he did deliver a few howlers....to be expected.
Michael Drohan's absence was noticed as was the presence of his replacement Paul Cleary.
Blues: Corey Chambers, Robert Buckley (Dean Reidy 82) , Jimmy Dermody, Ian Sinnott, Shane Mackey, David O'Leary, Aaron O'Connor (Sean Byrne 45), James O Brien, Philip Gorman, Eoin Rhodes (Dean Broaders), Anthony McAlavey. Unused subs: Colum Nugent, Darren Murphy, Kevin Burns.