Shock, horror - I enjoyed League of Ireland 'debut'
After years of resistance, I was finally convinced to sample the domestic product - and I didn't regret it
So I've been thinking about the things I tend to do on Friday nights. It's fairly standard fodder for a man of my vintage. (I recently turned 30. Very upsetting. I'm putting a brave face on things.)
Dinner, cinema, drinks, friends and the odd trip to the theatre are all on relatively high rotation. Throw in weddings and stags and lying on the couch and I'm pretty much full up.
Now there's nothing peculiar about these choices, except for the fact that sport doesn't feature, at all. And I love sport. I seek out sport.
Plus, it's not like there isn't a Friday night product out there just waiting for me to wander along to. Worse still, I spend 20 minutes every Tuesday talking about that very product with Roddy Collins and Stuey Byrne. And yet, on the imagined menu of Friday night activities I select from each week, the League of Ireland never features. It just never has.
I come from a football-obsessed family. We all played on teams. We all spent hours watching Sky Sports. We all read about football and talked about football. We just never went to see it, not the League of Ireland anyway.
Thanks in part to the nagging of my colleague Daniel McDonnell, I decided I would go to a game. That nagging lasted almost six months until Dan gave up nagging. There was always something else on.
Two weeks ago, though, I was at a desperately loose end. It was the loose end to end all loose ends. The weather was great. It felt like summer. And I wanted out of the apartment. Then it hit me, St Pat's v Dundalk was on just 10 minutes up the road in Inchicore. So on a whim, I headed along.
The crowd was good. The game was lively. The seats were right on the play, which is not to be underestimated. Dundalk in particular had real, watchable quality. The likes of Dane Massey, Daryl Horgan and Richie Towell can properly play. Both sides tried to pass the ball, St Pat's to their detriment on occasions.
The facilities were passable. The burger and chips were good. The floodlights were on. The sky was red. I promise you, it was a beautiful way to pass two hours.
What struck me as I watched the closing few minutes was this. Will I be here every Friday night? No. Will I be here in the rain? No. Should I try and guilt my friends into supporting Irish football? No.
However, on a warm summers evening, shouldn't the League of Ireland at least feature on the menu of potential ways to spend a few hours? Yes.