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Lights out at Tolka Park

ANOTHER week, another Dublin derby night with no football as last night's FAI Cup replay between Shelbourne and St Patrick's Athletic did not go ahead due to a floodlight failure at Tolka Park.

And St Pats manager Liam Buckley fears that a fixture pile-up could now harm his side as they enter the business end of the season.

Premier Divison champions Pats arre still in the hunt for a top-two finish in the league while they also have games to play in the FAI Cup and Leinster Senior Cup - while the winners of this tie, when it's played, will be at home to Bohemians in the FAI Cup quarter-final.

While most observers could not understand the decision by match referee Tomás Connolly to call off the Bohemians-Shamrock Rovers league game at Dalymount Park last Monday due to an issue with the pitch, there was no way last night's tie between the Saints and the Reds could have gone ahead.

"A blown transformer in the generator knocked out the lights on four of the eight pylons and while there was sufficient light to commence the game it would not have been possible to play it to a finish," said an FAI statement confirming the decision to call off the game.

FAI official Fran Gavin admitted that the latest match abandonment was bad PR for the league.

"In any league in the world it happens but it happened to come along on the back of last week which is not good. It's very, very disappointing for the supporters who have come here tonight and who were looking forward to a terrific game," Gavin said.


"We need to find out the exact details. We can't continue to have anything like this again."

While these two postponements in the space of a week will raise issues about the current stadium facilities at Dalymount and Tolka Park and the clubs' financial struggles to maintain two grounds which were opened in 1901 and 1953 respectively, in the short-term the postponement was not what the managers needed.

"We would have prefered to have it on this evening and get it done but it wasn't to be. This came out of the blue and it wasn't going to be repaired this evening, even if we waited around for an hour or two. You just have to take it on the chin and move on," said Pats boss Buckley.

"We're looking to try and get a spot in Europe and the Setanta Cup so every game will be vital."

While Pats are focused on their Premier Division campaign, Shels have issues of their own with a potential title-decider in Division One at home to current leaders Longford Town next Friday.

"It's very frustrating in terms of preparing for the match but I'm sure Liam (Buckley) is the same as well," said McDonnell.