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Groundhopping: Drogheda United (v Bohemians, United Park)

Competition: League of Ireland Premier

Date: 22 September 2023

Result: Drogheda United 0 – 0 Bohemians

Tickets:  €15 for adults, €5 for kids.

Attendance: circa 1,500

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆

The Game: I think we can all admit that sometimes football is just a bit dull. Just as often it’s fiercely exciting, but this game fell firmly into column A. A really indifferent, low-energy encounter that saw the Drogheda ‘keeper make a couple of fine saves and very little else happen at all. Europe seems to be slipping through Bohs fingers, and this was the worst game I’ve seen all year. Nice to watch with Chris Lee of Outside Write, though, who I’ve known ‘online’ for some time. He’s over in Ireland sniffing out a new project, which is well worth keeping an eye on.

The ground:  I like United Park, if only for its ramshackle, proper oldschool feel (much the same reason I like the visitor’s ground, too, as it happens). It has decent facilities for the state of it, and generally sells well with good local support. Not great for walking around (you’re always stuck on one side or the other), but it’s a cool place to watch Irish top-tier teams in close proximity.

Extras: I saw programmes for the first time at Drogheda. I don’t buy them – this is my alternative – but good to see paper offerings. I think the food and drink is decent and decently priced compared to a lot of places.

Assorted asides: A week earlier these two teams had a really entertaining cup game that Bohs won 3-1. We drew the short straw!

My totals for the year so far:

Games: 20. Home wins: 11 Draws: 5 Away wins: 4

Goals: 54. Home goals: 35. Away goals: 19. Goals per game: 2.70

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Groundhopping: Drogheda United (v Dundalk, United Park)

Competition: League of Ireland Premier Division

Date: 23 June 2023

Result: Drogheda United 1 – 2 Dundalk

Tickets:  €35 for a family ticket (two adults, two kids)

Attendance: circa 2,500

Game/ Experience Rating:  ☆☆☆

The Game: My second Louth derby of the season, and they are generally quite exciting if not overly high quality. Drogheda dominated much of this one, well on top in the first half, including taking the lead and hitting both posts early in the second period, too. Dundalk are dangerous, though, especially with Pat Hoban up front – he became the club’s record goalscorer with his first of two goals here.

Dundalk scored two second half goals in as many minutes to take control of the game – pretty much their only decent chances of the game, from what I can recall. That said, I may have that wrong – dealing with a toddler while you watch the match isn’t the easiest and I didn’t exactly take every second of this in. From what I saw, it was a good game overall, without ever being truly compelling.

The ground:  I’ve been to United Park before, and unintentionally found myself in the away end that time (they were playing UCD, and there were next to no away fans). This time I was the opposite side of the pitch, and it’s a much better set up: easy access, lots of flares from the home fans and a couple of decent snack spots. There’s a slightly irritating policy around standing on the barrier (the stewards allowed it for 70 minutes and then decided not to anymore), but otherwise a pretty good place to watch football. Fairly run down, but that’s part of the charm, I think.

Extras: Decent coffee, lively fans (at least until they were behind, which is understandable in a derby), a surprisingly large full-time police presence, and a nice lad in a technicoloured suit. All good fun.

Assorted asides: I’ve worked out recently that this is actually the easiest professional club to visit from my place, so might well be back more often. Fingers crossed they stay up, a promotion/ relegation play off is not looking impossible this year.

My totals for the year so far:

Games: 15. Home wins: 9 Draws: 4 Away wins: 2

Goals: 44. Home goals: 30. Away goals: 14. Goals per game: 2.93

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Groundhopping: Drogheda United (v UCD, United Park)

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

Match Rating:⭐⭐⭐⭐

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.