Afternoon everybody and welcome to our weekly League of Ireland blog. Apologies for being a day late this week, I decided to burn my hand while making a cup of tea so couldn't type yesterday, but it's just as well because today we have much more to reflect on after Sligo and St Pat's played in the Europa League last night.
I'm joined this week by journalists from ExtraTime.ie, Sam Griffin and Jessica Farry, who were at Richmond Park and the Showgrounds last night.
We'll be here for the next 45 minutes or so and if you'd like to get involved, make sure to leave a comment.
So first of all Sam and Jessica - mixed results for the teams in Europe this week, with Shamrock Rovers and Sligo bowing out, only for St Pat's to save the league's day and progress into the third round and a meeting with German giants Hannover next week.
We'll talk about Sligo and Pat's in more detail in a minute but briefly first of all - how disappointing was it to see Shamrock Rovers go out to Ekranas?
We skirted around the topic last week - but is it time for Kenny to go? He seems to have lost the fans a long time ago and the players aren't really responding to him either.
Very disappointing considering how well the did last year, Alan. But it's hardly surprising when you think about how inconsistent and unpredictable they have been all season. It's good gauge of how far they have fallen I suppose. Despite that, they had enough chances in the home game to win the tie - but like their domestic form, haven't been clinical enough in front of goal when it has really mattered.
He'd be gone if he hadn't been signed up for a three contract, wouldn't he? I think money is the only concern. He hasn't done well. He's probably most guilty of not kicking off from the fantastic position Michael O'Neill left them in. Not sure what stand out candidates there are to replace him though...
Indeed. That's the point I've made in the past - who will be able to come in and turn things around at this point? Would they be able to catch Sligo with any potential replacement? I really don't think so.
Anyway, Sligo...You were there last night Jess to see the Bit O'Red go out. If North, who we talked about at length last week, scored that penalty how different would it have been?
Will it harm them in the league, though? I saw them on Sunday night and while they put together some lovely moves, looked a small bit tired after the first leg.
I didn't see the game but I was a little disappointed Baraclough didn't go with two out-and-out strikers (North and Quigley obviously) considering Sligo were chasing the game. Quigley is a proven match winner.
Agreed Sam - came off the bench when Sligo were at sea last Sunday to rescue a draw with two set-piece goals, even though he missed a sitter late on.
Hi Ger - I wouldn't rule Setanta out either. After all, they showed the Hoops game on Tuesday night.
How did my friend Pascal do?
Ha - yes, Roddy will emerge from the smoky remains of Monaghan United to return to the Hoops and save the day.
It hasn't been all doom and gloom, of course, with Pat's making it through in extra-time. Enjoy it Sam?
What a fantastic night Alan! Great atmosphere in Richmond Park of course. It was a strange game in that it really should have been put to bed in the first leg but Pat's wasted chances. It was the same in the first half last night. They should have been 3-0 up at half-time last night with Fagan and Kenny Browne spurning good chances. As eriously nervy ending after Fagan’s goal but worth the win over the 210 minutes.
"It was unbelievable, just ecstatic," said Christy Fagan afterwards. He's been a player who has impressed me greatly the past while and it was great to see him get the goal. But, for me anyway, it was all about Ger O'Brien's tackle. How good was it in real-time Sam?
It won the game for them. Think Paul McGrathesque! I made a point of including it in my match report, despite evrything else that went on, because it was so impressive.
The reaction of the crowd was brilliant to it. But surely Pat's can't get past Hannover?
I would be very surprised if they did. Hannover got to the quarter finals of the competition last year which shows how good they are.They might not have that many marquee names but will still be incredibly tough opponents.
I'd go as far as saying Pat's getting a result in Germany would surpass Rovers' achievement last year. Sadly, I can't see it happening.
Before we take a look at this weekend's league action, something that's been on my mind this week that I wanted to know your opinions on - friendlies against big clubs from England and further afield, are they good for Irish clubs or a hindrance to teams who are at a crucial stage in the league?
I think they can provide so much desperately needed revenue they must be considered a good thing. I remember I was talking to the Bray Wanderers chairman last summer when the Liverpool reserves were playing. He said it was huge for the club and one of the very few times he could ever remember a sell out at the Carlisle Grounds.
I reckon they're brilliant.
Cork City have had a very, very long week from playing Sligo away on Sunday night, two friendlies against Watford (small crowd but a good chance to play some fringe players who needed a run-out) followed by a game against Man United's reserves (a packed ground for the first time in years, huge earner for the club and 27 players in the squad had a run-out), but from the game on Wednesday night alone they'd have made a hell of a lot of money.
Another one of these friendly I was lucky to attend was Everton v Bohs last august. Everton's first league game was postponed due to the London riots so they had the full complement at Dalymount Park. Aside from the money, these kind of fixtures generate a great buzz for the LOI.
Interestingly Sam, I had a discussion with a colleague of mine in Cork on Wednesday night about Bray v Liverpool - the following week there were only a few hundred at their next league game. Of the 3000 extra added to the Cork gate on Wednesday, how many will return tonight for their much more important league game with Shelbourne? Very few, I'd imagine.
The biggest one of the summer is yet to come, by the way: Limerick v Man City at Thomond Park on Sunday week. What an earner that'll be for Limerick city. Tickets have been selling well, even if City's team is unlikely to be the very strongest seeing as they play in Germany the night before.
Yes. It's infuriating. Thousands flock to see unkown teenagers because they hhave a Premiership jersey on their backs! where are they week in and week out?
To be fair, it's an argument that has been put through the ringer dozens of times and we never seem to come to a solution to fix the problem.