Killester United v Bluebell United

2.30pm  19 October 2014

Leinster Senior League, Charlie Cahill Cup, First Round
Killester United 0 Bluebell United 1 (att 75)

The Charlie Cahill Cup is, I think, reserved for teams in the top two divisions of the Leinster Senior League. Killester and Bluebell are both in the top tier, the Senior Division, and it was a close encounter at Haddon Park.

Not quite close enough for me though, with a late flight home and the prospect of too much time to kill I was hoping for extra time.

Killester had chances to equalise, but were unable to do so and Bluebell's early goal proved enough to win the tie and move into the second round.

Killester is a suburb in north Dublin, and Haddon Park is so well-enclosed it's tricky to find, hemmed in by houses. The pitch is railed off down both sides, with car parking, changing rooms and a clubhouse behind one goal.









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St Mochta's v Broadford Rovers

11am  19 October 2014

Leinster Senior League, Senior Division One
St Mochta's 2 Broadford Rovers 0 (att 55)

First part of a Sunday double in the Leinster Senior League, and these two sides did well to put on a decent display in very windy conditions.

The home side always had the edge, and won the game thanks to a first half penalty and a second goal in second half stoppage time.

We even had a brief, and speedy, pitch invasion ... by a hare.

St Mochta's are one of a seemingly endless number of clubs in the Dublin suburbs that have decent set-ups with an emphasis on providing football for youngsters.

Their senior side now plays in the Leinster Senior League's second tier, and use a fully railed off pitch at their Clonsilla base.

There's a grass bank along one side, plenty of car parking, and club buildings, including a snack bar, behind the goal nearest the entrance. The club's under 18s side were playing on a second pitch, also railed off and parallel to the main one.









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Mullingar Athletic v Castle Park

7.30pm  18 October 2014

Leinster Senior League, Major Division One
Mullingar Athletic 1 Castle Park 2 (att 30)

I've seen lots of matches in the Leinster Senior League over the years, but this was the first time I've dipped as low as "Major Division One", the league's sixth tier.

The reason was an unusual Saturday evening kick off, although it was an effort to get to Mullingar by kick off from Belfast, and I arrived with less than 10 minutes to spare.

It was a good job I wasn't late, as both teams scored in the opening minutes. Mullingar going ahead before Castle Park levelled. After that bright start the entertainment dipped somewhat, until it picked up again when Castle Park scored what proved to be the winner in the second half, setting up a decent finish.

Both clubs looked better than I'd expect for such a lowly division, and with Castle Park unbeaten in the lead I wouldn't be surprised to see both sides win promotion.

Mullingar Athletic are based a few miles south of the County Westmeath town, in the village of Gainstown. They have good facilities, with a railed of pitch, one of three, floodlights and a two-storey clubhouse.








Queen's University v Dollingstown

3pm  18 October 2014

Northern Ireland Football League, Championship Two
Queen's University 1 Dollingstown 2 (att 40)

Dollingstown are newcomers to the Northern Ireland Football League (previously called the Irish League) and gained three more points as they continued their solid start to life in the competition's third tier.

They played well to establish a two goal lead by half time at Queen's, one a penalty. The home side were better in the second half, and had a lifeline thanks to a penalty of their own. It was saved, but Queen's reacted quickly and scored from the rebound.

It set up an exciting finale to the match. The students probably deserved a point, but Dollingstown held firm, at times with luck and at times thanks to good goalkeeping.

Queen's University have competed in lower division of the NIFL, and its predecessors, over many years. After a spell sharing a PSNI they're now back at their own university sports facilities, which are modern, impressive, and in Dub Lane, just off the Upper Malone Road a few miles from the centre of Belfast.

Football is played on "pitch one", a one-sided venue for spectators with a seated stand and a open standing area. On the opposite side of a clubhouse is a similar, but bigger, venue which looks to be used for rugby and/or Gaelic sports.

Unusually for a Northern Irish League venue, and despite the ground having turnstiles, there was no admission charge for spectators, but then the students don't get many fans.









Limerick v Sligo Rovers

7.45pm  17 October 2014

League of Ireland, Premier Division
Limerick 1 Sligo Rovers 0 (att 600)

First game of a busy football-filled weekend in Ireland, and I took the chance to recomplete the Republic's two-division league with a visit to the impressive Thomond Park rugby stadium in Limerick.

Not my first trip to the city, this was the fourth different home ground I've seen Limerick play on. It was, apparently, their last game here, so when the new League of Ireland season gets underway next spring yet another trip will beckon.

As a rugby ground, Thomond Park Stadium is great. A pair of modern seated stands, both with terraced paddocks in front, face each other on opposite sides of the pitch. Both ends are shallower and uncovered.

As a football venue, with just a few hundred fans inside, it's a strange experience. Sligo had no more than 30 travelling supporters, yet they were housed in a stand of their own, opposite the home supporters.

I had low hopes for an end-of-season fixture with nothing at stake, but it wasn't a bad game. The first half wasn't the best, but it livened up after the break, helped by what proved to be the only goal, in the 52nd minute.

Limerick had chances to score more, and really should have done, but I guess they were happy enough to sign off their home campaign with three points. I was happy enough to have been in the stand during a mid-match torrential downpour with abated before it was time to walk back to my hotel.







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Byrom v Liver Academy

8pm  7 October 2014

Liverpool County Premier League, Premier Division
Byrom 4 Liver Academy 2 (att 40)

After an uninspiring start, off the pitch at least, this turned out to be a surprisingly decent night's entertainment.

Byrom are one of four Liverpool County Premier League clubs using the 3G pitch at the Liverpool County FA Ground in Walton Hall Avenue, and this was the first of a series of midweek league games scheduled here.

With no pitchside barrier, technically a requirement for a "step seven" game, the referee ruled that all spectators had to stand outside the fence, ensuring we all had a very poor view of the action.

I watched through the thick metal fence for about 15 minutes or so, an experience similar to watching League football in the 1980s, before joining the increasing numbers who ignored the instruction and had returned inside.

By the second half almost everyone was standing along the touchlines, and enjoying an absorbing and high quality game.

Byrom had made a tremendous start, scoring two great goals inside the first few minutes. The score stayed at 2-0 into the second half, but while Byron were the better side it always looked as if they might need a third goal to make the game safe.

When they got their third it was a couple of minutes after Liver Academy had, as they'd threatened, pulled a goal back. The visitors weren't finished though, and with eight minutes remaining they again reduced the arrears, and once again it wasn't long before Byron re-established a two goal cushion.






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Bettws v Four Crosses

2.30pm  5 October 2014

Montgomersyhire Challenge Cup, First Round
Bettws 5 Four Crosses 0 (att 45)

This should count as a cup shock, as the hosts play two divisions lower than their visitors, but Bettws are top of their league, and chances are this wasn't Four Crosses' strongest line up.

The first half was mostly even, but Bettws always looked more likely to score and, deservedly, led 1-0 at the interval. More goals followed after the break, as Bettws punished naive defending. The final score didn't flatter Bettws at all.

Bettws are based in the the small village of Bettws Cedewain. I visited for a game in this competition in 1990, when they played at a venue called Highgate Farm. It was just a pitch in a farmers field, and in the years since they've moved (at least once) and are now in a farmers field on Tregynon Road.

A neighbouring field serves as a car park, while the pitch itself has a pair of dugouts and is fenced-off, probably to keep out sheep rather than spectators. Players change in the village hall, then travel to the ground by car.

It was an historic occasion for the club as the expected arrival of groundhoppers meant they produced their first every match programme, just four pages but very welcome.









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