OPINION | Dundalk FC: ‘If we hadn’t seen such riches, we could live with being poor’

Have we become so ruined by the success of the past three seasons that we view second in the table, a place in the League Cup semi-finals and FAI Cup and Champions League campaigns still to come, as a failure?

Dundalk FC supporters celebrate the club’s league title win last October. PICTURE: CIARAN CULLIGAN
Perspective: a true understanding of the relative importance of things; a sense of proportion.

Paying tribute to the victims of the recent terrorist attack in Manchester, Mickey Duffy’s pre-match music on Friday night centred around music from that city.

The sun shone brightly on Oriel Park as New Order, The Stone Roses, The Inspiral Carpets, Morrissey, The Happy Mondays and Oasis all blared out over the speakers.

However, it was another Manchester band that came into my head when I headed to the car — in the pissing rain — after watching Sean Maguire bury Dundalk’s hopes of a record-equalling fourth successive league title.

We all know the song, ‘Sit Down’ by James. Even if you don’t think you know it, trust me, you do know it. You’ll no doubt have heard it, hummed it and more than likely sung along to it. It’s just one of those tunes. To stop you from looking elsewhere for it, I’ve provided a link below.

One minute and 55 seconds in, singer Tom Booth delivers a line that seems pretty apt at this moment in time.

‘If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor’

Friday night’s game — like the season overall — was pretty underwhelming. There’s no dressing it up. We know it, the players know it and Stephen Kenny certainly knows it.

A total of six defeats in 17 games is not what we envisaged but have we become so ruined by the success of the past three seasons that we view second in the table, a place in the League Cup semi-finals and FAI Cup and Champions League campaigns still to come, as a failure?

In a football world saturated by social media, where everything is now, now, now and everybody can publicly voice their opinion, knee-jerk reactions are ten-a-penny. All sense of perspective goes out the window, replaced by sensationalism.

Undoubtedly, there are questions that need to be asked but some have been quick to stick the knife in and twist it. Performances become the ‘worst in living memory’, new players are ‘panic buys’, the manager ‘complacent’. Prophets of Doom — as Kenny described them on Friday night — popping up here and there, declaring this, declaring that….

If you’re 10 years of age — or younger — then admittedly, it must be hard to wrap your head around what is happening at the moment but if you’re older than that and you consider this season to be ‘a disgrace’ or ‘a shambles’ then you really need to have a look at yourself.

Dundalk Football Club has won 12 league titles with a quarter of that tally delivered by Kenny and the vast majority of the current squad. Until 2015, no Dundalk side had ever retained the league title, not Alan Fox’s league winning side of 1967, not Jim McLaughlin’s legendary double winning team of 1979, not even Turlough O’Connor’s vintage of 1988.

And lest we forget, it’s only five years ago that the club was slumped at death’s door, days from shutting up shop and going out of business. Live with being poor? At that stage, we were happy just to stay alive!

Under Kenny, a flood of silverware — along with an unforgettable European Odyssey — has landed our way but success doesn’t guarantee more success. It doesn’t come easy, it doesn’t come naturally.

Ask Liverpool supporters, who have not seen their club win the league since 1990, or Manchester United fans, who endured 26 years of frustration before Alex Ferguson guided them to the English title in 1993.

Closer to home, the last two clubs to win the SSE Airtricity League title before Dundalk, Sligo Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic, occupy two of the three relegation spots while Shamrock Rovers, seen as trailblazers and the dominant force in Irish football for years to come back in 2011, haven’t finished higher than third.

Dundalk FC’s 2016 campaign was abnormal for a League of Ireland club, a season that is unlikely to be repeated as long as the league remains largely semi-professional, underfunded and ignored by the powers that be.

Kenny and his players stood shoulder to shoulder with giants and allowed us to dream. They left memories ingrained in our minds that we will never forget, but, like all of the best parties, a seismic hangover follows to bring you crashing back down to earth.

The hangover is showing no sign of clearing just yet but after the untold riches we’ve savoured in the past three seasons, surely we can live with being relatively poor for one? It’s the very least Kenny and his players deserve.

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