Date: 4 March 2022
Competition: League of Ireland Premier Division (first tier)
Result: Drogheda United 4 – 2 UCD
Tickets: €15 (adult), free (kids)
Attendance: circa 2,000
The game: Drogheda United were bottom of the admittedly very early-stage League of Ireland Premier Division season going into this game, so a match against newly promoted UCD – once again, I believe, the only student top-tier team in Europe – looked like one with the potential to be quite evenly matched. It wasn’t particularly.
Sometimes a match takes on an interested flavour when one strategy seems dominant, and Drogheda worked out a few minutes into the game that UCD were weak down their defensive left. They continually exploited this, with a series of overlaps leading to crosses and three first half goals, which meant a dominant 3-0 half time lead. UCD sorted it out to a degree in the second half and looked far better (this worked out well for us, as five of the six goals happened right in front of us at one end), but Drogheda were always going to win this one. Entertaining, though. Fiercely so. I suspect Drogheda will do well at home, though they’ll finish bottom half. UCD are in trouble already, I think.
The ground: United Park is pretty run down and doesn’t have a lot of room for expansion – in fact, both ends are wedged firmly against ajoining buildings and while you can walk across one end, you need to do so from the away end, and with the permission of a steward. Easy enough for a game like today, but less so when the better supported clubs come into town, I’d imagine. It’s popular, to the point of sold out even for this, one of the small games.
The main stand is fairly passionate, with loud, decent support echoing across the pitch, though the originality of the chants leave a bit to be desired. The other side of the stadium is really quite ramshackle: a covered terrace, a smaller stand and a few random little spaces between them. I liked it. The ground is also known as ‘Head In The Game Park’, a mental health sponsorship, and the club seem to make a genuine effort to make the place a family one, including letting kids in free and requesting that language is moderated in the ground. Judging by the number of kids inside, it’s working.
Extras: Really good work on the food allergy menu at their surprisingly extensive little food shops. I didn’t get to the club shop as I’d have had to get past that steward.
Assorted asides: UCD away support is pretty pitiful. As is their home support, in my experience, sadly. There must be potential to grow a student fanbase and really launch the club better than they have done up to this point.
My totals for the year so far:
Games: 2. Home wins: 1. Draws: 0 Away wins: 1
Goals: 9. Home goals: 4. Away goals: 5. Goals per game: 4.5