If there’s one thing that sticks out from last weekend’s games it’s a couple of bad penalty decisions — one in Dalymount, the other in Inchicore — that had big implications on the games.
To start with Friday night, I didn’t think the one that Shamrock Rovers got early on in their win against Bohs was a penalty at all.
Jack Memery did get caught on the wrong side and there was a little bit of to-ing and fro-ing outside the box but from what I saw, he pulled back then and didn’t get involved once they got inside the box. I actually thought Gary McCabe took a bit of a dive.
I can see why the referee has given it to be honest but if you want to look at it in a practical way, it was more a dive than it was a foul.
Memery didn’t do anything really. He knew he was on the wrong side of him and normally as a defender, once you get caught on the wrong side you’re very conscious that you don’t catch your man’s heels.
Rovers showed that they were the better team on the night to be honest, so maybe more of the focus should be on the fact that Pat’s were robbed a penalty against Limerick the next day — a blatant penalty. I’ve never seen anything more extraordinary, it was a crazy decision.
You can argue about the Rovers penalty — that’s the referee’s interpretation of what he sees in real time — but with Pat’s there’s no question that it was an out and out penalty.
Pat’s had opportunities to win the game alright but they’re not motoring yet and you can see that. They obviously missed Kenny Browne and more importantly Ger O’Brien, and I don’t think Limerick would have scored if O’Brien was on the pitch. Conor McCormack did get caught out quite badly and that’s a cardinal sin for a full-back — you just don’t get done inside.
There’s been a lot of talk about Pat’s signing quality players like Keith Fahey and Mark Quigley but Saturday’s game probably magnifies the importance of players like Ger O’Brien and Ian Bermingham to them. When they’re not there, I just don’t think Pat’s are the same team. They’re very good going forward but they’re two solid defenders as well.
That balance is hugely important to them. When Ger’s not playing they don’t look as dynamic as they usually do and defensively they’re not as strong either. The goal they conceded was too simple and you don’t really expect things like that from the league champions.
It should probably be said as well that when you sign players like Fahey and Quigley, within the squad you’re suddenly looking around and thinking we’re definitely going to win it now. You can’t be too over-reliant on particular players which is what they didn’t do last year and that’s what won them the league.
I’ve spoken before about Christy Fagan and how he’s not an out and out goalscorer. He’s got three from three already and you’ve got to give him credit, he’s put his goals away really well.
But Pat’s won the league last year with everyone scoring goals and that’s the way I see them winning the league this year.
It’ll be interesting to see how Christy and Mark Quigley work together because there’s certainly going to be a conflict there in terms of their styles.
Christy is probably a little bit more disciplined in that he plays like a natural target man. It’s actually quite rare to find players who are that comfortable with their back to the game. Gary O’Neill is similar as well and they’re absolutely priceless those players – they can act as a pivot point and open up the game for you.
Mark is a little bit more flamboyant and might try something a little bit different, whereas you can rely on Christy to be in that position, but getting the two to work together was always going to be the issue.
Maybe it’s something the two players need to work on themselves because it shouldn’t always be down to the manager telling players where to be and where to go.
That’s one to keep an eye on but there’s no need to get too worked up about Pat’s form just yet though. They’re not the only ones who have started slowly. Nobody is motoring really.