Rush Athletic (v Oliver Bond Celtic, St Catherine’s Park)

Competition: Leinster Senior League Sunday Senior Division 1B (Sixth Tier)

Date: 26 March 2023

Result: Rush Athletic 0 – 0 Oliver Bond Celtic

Tickets: free, walk up

Attendance: Roughly 100

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆

The Game: Both Rush Athletic and Oliver Bond Celtic had plenty of reason to be up for this one – Rush are sitting in second and still holding outside hopes of winning a title, but also have an eye on those behind them – they must finish at least third to secure guaranteed promotion. Oliver Bond are one of those sides pushing to catch them.

Unfortunately these games can go either way, and this one wasn’t good. A first half filled with offsides, and few decent chances, and a second half only slightly better, though Rush has a couple of threatening headers, and Oliver Bond scuffed a one-on-one with the Rush goalkeeper. Oliver Bond also had a forward sent off late on for kicking out at a defender after the ball was shepharded out. A daft red card if you ever saw one.

The bottom line, though, is this wasn’t overly entertaining, though it probably suits Rush more than Oliver Bond as the current gap stays in place. Three games to go to secure that promotion.

The ground:  Rush Athletic is just a pitch with a metal barrier around it, but my word the views are exceptional (see pics). Always a pleasant experience.

Extras: Berry and Bean coffee van. That’s about it.

Assorted asides: I think I’m right in saying if Rush secure promotion to the fifth tier (third tier in Leinster Senior League terms), they’ll be at the highest level they’ve ever been in the Irish system. That means a huge few games over the next month or so.

My totals for the year so far:

Games: 7. Home wins: 4 Draws: 3 Away wins: 0

Goals: 20. Home goals: 13. Away goals: 7. Goals per game: 2.86


Groundhopping: Ireland (v Latvia, Aviva Stadium)

Competition: International Friendly

Date: 22 March 2023

Result: Ireland 3 – 2 Latvia

Tickets: Included in season ticket, mine was around €170 in teh cheapest category.

Attendance: 41,211

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆☆

The Game: This is in practise a warm up game for the visit of France on Monday (which you’ll also find summed up on this site after it’s happened), and saw Ireland go with a heap of changes, many of which were a chance for the young lads which I thought worked quite well. Evan Ferguson was the big one, with the young Brighton forward instantly putting in his claim to hold the shirt for the next who knows how many years. A couple of others, like newly internationally cleared Mikey Johnston and rarely-played Will Smallbone, looked strong, too.

Ireland started superbly, with O’Dowda and Ferguson scoring close-range goals inside 20 minutes. From there they continued to dominate, but somehow contrived to be level at the break, with Latvia scoring a rocket from 25 yards and then a deflected equaliser from pretty much their only two first half chances. A not unfamiliar story.

The quality of play is definitely improving, though, and it was Johnston’s introduction that led to the winner, with one of his earliest contributions being a decent run down the left, ending in hitting the post to leave a tap in for fellow sub Ogbene.

It should have been far more comfortable, but it was a good watch.

The Scratch: “our sound changed and became less suited to the street”

Dublin folk-punks The Scratch emerged from a slightly unusual backdrop: they set aside a successful heavy rock band, Red Enemy, and totally started again. The reasoning was simple and plays out in every aspect of what they do. They wanted to do something with less of a sense of standardised ‘ground rules’ around it, and focus on having fun.

Years later, the acoustic-led act are nothing if not fun, evoking a party vibe at their famed live shows, and rising to a level where, half a decade after starting out in their new form, they’re headlining vibrant shows at a boisterous Olympia Theatre.

The most recent album from the band, ‘Couldn’t Give A Rats’, came out shortly after covid hit. “We haven’t been able to play that album live,” guitarist Conor Dockery tells us, with obvious regret. “We recorded a live stream covering a lot of the record in 2021, because we felt it would be a while before we got to do it properly, and it turned out it was another year. It was a way of closing the book on the whole thing, really, a tip of the cap to it. It went down so well that we put it out on vinyl, too.”

“We’ve been writing for the last seven or eight months, so we’re talking about another album, and we have some other ideas floating around, too. It might be that we just put music out in whatever form it comes. But we’ve tons of new material.”

That’s a world away from the early days. “We didn’t really know what was going on when the band started,” Dockery recalls. “In those early days, we kind of saw busking as a way of getting out there. We did that for about two years, and it became one of my favourite things I ever did. It was always going to run its course.” 

“The shows got bigger and the sound changed and became less suited to the street, but it’s one of the purest forms of performing, and I’d recommend it to anyone. It can be humbling and rewarding, and we saw both sides of that. We like to get people involved and leave them feeling a bit different to an average gig, and a lot of that dates back to busking. It was a big thing.”

Lisa Canny: “the harp is an extremely versatile instrument”

Lisa Canny plays the harp, but not in the way you might expect. She used to be a traditional harpist, winning seven All Ireland titles in her teenage years. As her taste changed and she began composing, though, Canny changed genres, but not instruments. 

Now, as a modern pop performer, she still uses a harp, delving into realism like hip-hop along the way. Her sound would be unrecognisable to the more traditional side of the music, but the result is a truly unique sound, still based around the musician she grew up with. Based in London today, she’s exploring a very different musical world.

“The harp is an extremely versatile instrument,” she says. “Obviously it works beautifully for more ethereal, whimsical and romantic musical soundscapes, but start dampening, muting, bending and flicking the strings, slapping the soundboard and de-tuning on the spot and you have a whole new dynamic to play with.” 

“It also has such an incredible presence on stage and in a room, not just because of its size but also its curves, colouring, attitude and the history it carries in its existence. I named mine Jane. She has a really strong personality to me too! She’s elegant and sophisticated but also totally chaotic, sensitive and dramatic. Most instruments have personalities to me. Like a painter has colours and textures to play with, I lean into the individual character of instruments and their unique sounds to help me tell stories. Same goes for the banjo.  Mine’s called George and he is a big awkward dumbass but he’s great craic and a bit of a bird, so everyone loves him anyway!”

Dashoda: “Each song appears to me to be exploring a symptom or cause of self-sabotage”

Gavin MacDermott is better known, at least until now, as a producer, but his new solo project, Dashoda, sees him break out of the production realm and bare a little of his soul.

A deeply personal electronic project exploring themes like self-sabotage, and referencing the likes of The Blue Nile and Talking Heads, it’s one of the more unuusal and memorable pieces of music to come out of Dublin in recent months. I caught up with him to talk it all over ahead of the launch of the EP ‘Never Enough’.

First of all, tell me about ‘Never Enough’ and how it builds on ‘Sultan’?

Sultan is just one piece of a five part picture, four songs and the visuals which accompany them. The picture is only something I understood in retrospect to be a document about my experiences with self-sabotage. There were clues in the lyrics, and I can remember certain aspects of the process which might suggest this too, but I didn’t realise all of this until it was suggested to me by a friend and I had some distance between me and the EP. 

So, in a sense, the final two singles are the full reveal of the picture. Each song appears to me to be exploring a symptom or cause of self-sabotage: avoidance, self defeat, anxiety, procrastination. These are broad themes and I have no answers, but I do hope that whoever listens to it will project their own meaning on to them.

Musically, I would have taken a lot of inspiration from 80s bands I got into when I was 18 or 19, like Prefab Sprout and Japan. I just loved the sound of Juno synths, drum machines, and chorused guitars. I’ve never really shook any of that. Around the time I started making demos in Ableton in 2014 I had heard Benny Smiles’ music. He had a track out called Somehow Yours Do, which I loved. I was starting to learn more about other Irish artists making this kind of music and it started to feel possible for me then. 

Fast forward to 2020 and Ross Fortune (Benny Smiles) asked me to rework a new single he was about to release. I then asked him he be interested in doing some additional production and mixing on several tracks I had, and these tracks became “Never Enough”. 

How has your work with Jackie come about?

I’ve known Jackie for a few years and I was a fan of her music before we met. 

I had the chorus for Sultan since 2018 but I was never happy with the verse. I played it for Jackie and she vibed with it so we set to work on finishing the lyrics and arrangement structure. 

Are there more collaborations on the EP, or any you’d particularly like to put together?

Yes, my friend Jake Curran co-wrote ‘Fooling Around Again’ and ‘Roy Orbison’ with me and ‘Looking For You’ was a co-write with Richey McCourt. There is some additional production by Ross Fortune and he also mixed the EP. Each of these collaborators had a different approach which was fun. I think one of the reasons for collaboration was the pandemic. Lockdown was an isolating experience so it felt natural to have a project that involved other people to escape from that, whether working remotely or during the windows where we could meet up. 

Ror Conaty directed all the music videos and Mark O’Brien was also a creative consultant for the visuals. I see the EP as an audio/visual project, when I started to work with Ror and Mark the EP had been recorded and the visual project brought a lot more depth to it, for me anyway. 

I think my eyes have been opened to the friendship and camaraderie you can build with others through collaboration, so I will certainly seek out collaborators for my next project. 

Groundhopping: Loughshinny United (v Derry Rovers, Loughshinny Park)

Competition: Leinster Senior League Sunday Division 3A (12th Tier)

Date: 5 March 2023

Result: Loughshinny United 1 – 1 Derry Rovers

Tickets: free (walk up)

Attendance: 35 (approx)

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆☆

The Game: First vs second in village-level football as Loughshinny United played a side from all the way over in Edenderry, Co Offaly, Derry Rovers. This is the lowest tier of Sunday Leinster Senior League football, and Loughshinny look all set to launch out of it for next season.

One thing I love about this level of football is what you can learn from the small number of regulars stood around the sidelines. While I kicked a ball around with the kids at the pitch edge, for example, I learnt that the Loughshinny keeper, who it’s fair to say was shaky looking, normally plays full back and was standing in for their missing usual goalkeepers.

Derry Rovers took the lead when he fumbled a cross to a closing striker about 15 minutes in, which hardly seems his fault under the circumstances. Loughshinny were angry – not at him, but generally – with their level of play, with a full-on shouting match instigated at half time. They eventually got level through a header in the second half, before the game’s drama unfolded.

A penalty for Loughshinny was saved, and one of the home team’s strikers reacted by punching a defender, causing a brawl and a quite bitter end to the game, including the Derry Rovers player who had been hit being prevented from following the dismissed player into the dressing room at full time by the rest of their bench. Not brilliant quality, as youi’d probably expect, but great entertainment.

The ground:  Loughshinny Park is basically a walk up pitch with a metal barrier around it and a tiny changing area, plus another kids pitch nearby. It’s exactly what you’d expect for the level – no frills, rough and ready, but welcoming with it. There’s a notable slope to the pitch and the whole thing has a great view of the Irish Sea if you stand on the high end. A proper rural feeling spot.

Extras: I mean Loughshinny Harbour is lovely and it’s a five minute walk away. The town isn’t big enough for a shop, so that’s about all you’re getting…

Assorted asides: It’s exposed and so windy, buy coffee on the way over!

My totals for the year so far:

Games: 5. Home wins: 3 Draws: 2 Away wins: 0

Goals: 15. Home goals: 10. Away goals: 5. Goals per game: 3


Simple Minds: “we were encouraged to do the unexpected”

Simple Minds have been undergoing a marked renaissance in recent years. The slightly morose Scottish rockers, icons of a scene that flourished in the late 80s, have powered on since. Their last two or three albums, released throughout the 2010s, have been their most critically acclaimed since the 80s.

With a new record on the way later this year, though, Simple Minds have also taken the time for a proper ‘flashback’ as part of their postponed 40th anniversary touring schedule. Latest single ‘Act Of Love’ is a pre-record of the very first song they ever played live, reproduced in shiny new technicolour, but bringing with it that vibrant early energy. 

“It had always been on the agenda to revisit the early songs,” frontman Jim Kerr says. “It was our favourite for about the first year of our existence. By the time we got a record label, a lot of new songs had come on the horizon, and it just got overlooked. It was a great riff, if not a great song, and we felt we had to go back to it one day. It took 44 years, but last year, while working on what will be our new album, we broke away and did the re-record. We were mightily pleased with the way it turned out. It’s ‘point A’, where we started out.”

“‘Act Of Love’ is one of those ones where you don’t even need to know the song to enjoy it,” he continues. “What appeals to us is it has this really young energy, one that people our age probably shouldn’t have.”

Of course, Simple Minds have already survived through a lot. Now 44 years on from their early forays, Kerr has long relocated to Sicily. The band exists in a space where they continue to make art they’re hugely proud of. They’re determined that their continued presence on the live scene shouldn’t be a nostalgia trip, but are also immensely proud of what came before, a body of work featuring many diamonds, like UK number one ‘Belfast Child’, and the iconic ‘Don’t You (Forget About Me)’.

“‘Belfast Child’ is our anti-war song,” Kerr says when asked about his musical approach to recent political events. “I don’t want to play down what’s happened in the Ukraine, which is obviously awful, but do you need more than one anti-war song? The new album was actually written before all this stuff happened, anyway, so it’s not addressed. One size kind of fits all, in that area anyway, semantics about whether [The Troubles] were a war or not aside.”

Groundhopping: Bray Wanderers (v Kerry FC, Carlisle Grounds)

Competition: League of Ireland First Division (tier 2)

Date: 24 February 2023

Result: Bray Wanderers 3 – 1 Kerry FC

Tickets: €15 (adult), free (accompanied under 14)

Attendance: 1500 (approx)

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆☆

The Game: Kerry FC were, at the time of this game, a brand new club out of Tralee playing their second ever League of Ireland game, having lost their first 2-0 to Cobh down in Tralee. They’re surprisingly well followed for a club that formed out of nowhere, and brought perhaps 100-150 fans an eight hour round trip away ot Bray (okay, some might live up here, but still). I understand their home games are selling out.

The new side is what attracted me to this game (they were one of very few League of Ireland teams I’d never seen live, for obvious reason), but Kerry FC are still, unsurprisingly, very much a work in progress, with a few shining moments (including a goal from Leo Gaxha at 2-0 down, which was really nicely worked), but not really a coherent team just yet.

The game was largely balanced overall, and in my view swung on Kerry’s inability to defend corners. Despite having three players who were notably tall (6ft 3 plus), they didn’t seem to be able to get on the end of crosses and Bray took full advantage. Wanderers led 1-0 at half time, and scored again early in the second half, only for Kerry to respond with the next attack (the two lads with me managed to miss both goals by going to buy a can of Coke, as you do).

The Kerry goal was their first ever in a competitive game, which was pretty cool. Bray comfortable winners, though, and at this early stage look a good bed to challenge to go up to the Premier.