Date: 26 August 2021
Competition: Europa Conference League, final qualifying round
Result: Shamrock Rovers 0 – 1 Flora Tallinn
Tickets: €20 for adults, €10 for kids (in practise add another 10% for those pesky booking fees)
The game: I had high hopes for Shamrock Rovers qualifying for a second European group stage tonight, despite losing 4-2 away in the opening leg in Tallinn. That might seem overly optimistic, but I’d watched the first game and felt it was a bit of a robbery, with Rovers by far the better side on the ball, and a two goal deficit looked more than achievable, especially if they stopped the daft defensive mistakes.
This was a poor performance, though. The Flora goal, conceded early in the second half, contained both defensive and goalkeeping errors, but worse than that, Shamrock Rovers never really seemed that up for it, playing with little energy throughout and spending far too much time passing the ball around at the back, often shakily, at a time when they needed either two or three goals at the other end. I’m not sure they believed, which felt a bit rubbish given I did.
Flora were professional but fairly average, and definitely beatable. A missed opportunity.
The ground: I’ve talked about the Tallaght Stadium enough already in previous entries – it’s a decent spot, a nice mid-sized stadium that we regularly head for because my kid loves the nearby McDonald’s, it has good views in almost every seat (still, see below) and a generally good atmosphere, especially the comically cheesy home team chants.
They had a few more in tonight than they have recently and the concessions stands open again, which felt like a bit of post-corona progress. Apart from a little defiance at the end and a rowdy opening half hour, it was a bit flat, though. We sat in block 3, right in the north west corner, and it was probably one of the worst views in the stadium, but I wasn’t expecting to get in to this to be honest, so you take it.
Extras: McDonalds for myself and the little lad before, obviously, and a nice picture of Kellie Harrington that’s appeared on the side of Square Shopping Centre.
Assorted asides: Irish sides getting into the group stages of European football is a good thing for football as a whole in this country, and contrary to what people tend to say, doesn’t result in any kind of sustained league dominance. Shame this didn’t happen for anyone this year, especially given the quality of some of the performances, especially Dundalk v Vitesse and Bohs v PAOK.
Also: Estonia is one of only about a dozen European countries I’ve never been to, and somehow this is the second time I’ve seen one of their teams this year. Funny how that works.
My totals for the year so far:
Games: 6. Home wins: 3. Draws: 1 Away wins: 2
Goals: 19. Home goals: 12. Away goals: 7. Goals per game: 3.2
A few pics: