Alan Keane & Dean Zambra

It’s a little bit different on the show this week. While both divisions of the league take a well earned mid-season break we’re looking back at some of the highlights of the last few months action across both divisions.

Our regular co-hosts Alan Keane & Dean Zambra are both on the show this week taking a look at the final rounds of games into the break and a look at some of the highlights and lowlights of the season so far.

They share their opinions on the best goals, team performances, player and young player of the season so far as well as a general chat about the highs and lows on and off the pitch.

Gary Rogers & Ollie Horgan

This week on the show we revisit the ongoing troubles at Dundalk FC with their former goalkeeper Gary Rogers while Ollie Horgan pops in to talk about his high flying Harps side ahead of yet another north west derby against table toppers Sligo Rovers this weekend.

First though former favourite at the Showgrounds, Alan Keane has to try and hide the smile as he chats about Sligo Rover’s (0:15) return to the summit of Irish football with a hard fought 1-0 victory against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght on Monday.

Alan and Breifne look back over the action from both divisions of the SSE Airtricity League this weekend with a double round of fixtures in the top flight (1:32). Top of the discussion was Shamrock Rovers losing their unbeaten record in Oriel Park on Friday, Dundalk themselves being haunted by former striker Georgie Kelly’s hat-trick in Dalymount on Monday and Finn Harps late turn around to bring all three points back from Waterford.

Former Dundalk & Sligo netminder Gary Rogers (15:57) tells us all about his retirement, his new scouting role and the developments that led to his decision to hang up the boots at the end of last season.

He discusses the souring of the high performance environment at Oriel Park in recent times, how there was no firm offer to stay at Oriel Park in a coaching capacity and the opportunity to depart the game on his terms, at a high point with FAI Cup success and Premier League opposition in the Europa League.

Despite a ridiculous schedule of a Monday night trip to Waterford, teaching on Tuesday and training again on Tuesday evening, Finn Harps boss Ollie Horgan (34:39) drops in to the show to share his thoughts on the impressive season so far for the Donegal side.

He discusses the improved performances from his squad and some big milestones including the club’s first victory in the Brandywell over near neighbours Derry City.

Alan (50:41) also takes a look through the full set of fixtures set for this weekend’s final round before the Mid Season break next week.

Daniel O’Reilly & Jack Lynch

This week on the show Drogheda United defender Daniel O’Reilly discusses their bright start to the season while Treaty captain Jack Lynch waxes lyrical about his first goal in the league this weekend as they join Dean Zambra and Breifne Earley.

Dean chats back through his Longford side’s defeat (0:20) to Bohemians the results and news of the last week in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division (5:28), a full First Division slate (17:42) and the new arrival of Ian Ryan at Ferrycarrig Park.

Drogheda’s Daniel O’Reilly (28:13) reflects on their fine performance on Friday with a 3-1 victory over St. Patrick’s Athletic at Head in the Game Park. He chat’s about the club’s impressive start to the season, the lose-lose situation against Waterford’s youth side a week ago and how the performances have justified the results in the league campaign so far.

He refuses to be drawn on whether Drogheda can sustain a push for European qualification but is excited about the manner in which the new arrivals in Drogheda have gelled into the title winning side of last year and the politics of deciding who’s on free kicks at the club after some phenomenal dead ball strikes in recent weeks.

Treaty United captain Jack Lynch (44:08) drops in to talk about his first goal in the league which sealed an important victory against Athlone Town. He talks about the importance of having a team in the mid west region, having been around the grounds at Cobh, Waterford and Galway’s he’s delighted with the shorter commute to training and the impact it’s having on the local football community.

Jack discusses the potential for bringing big crowds back to the Market’s Field later in the summer and reminisces on his own memories of watching games at the venue and the honour of potentially leading his local side out into that later in the season.

Finally Dean looks forward at the fixture list (56:22) including his own visit to Sligo and other big clashes coming up in the coming week of another double round in the Premier Division and the penultimate set of fixtures in the First Division before the mid-season break next month.

John Mahon & Larry Mahony

This week on the show Sligo Rovers centre half John Mahon chats about the upturn in form for the Bit O’Red and former League of Ireland & WNL coach Larry Mahony discusses his new coaching book with Alan Keane and Breifne Earley.

Recorded before the cancellation of the Sligo Rovers V Waterford fixture this weekend we kick off with a look back at the action from the last two rounds of games. Alan (0:24) discusses his commentary debut on WatchLOI recently for the visit of St. Patrick’s Athletic to The Showgrounds.

Alan chats back through the results and news of the last week (1:12) with a double round of Premier Division fixtures, a full First Division slate and some of the turmoil around the grounds.

Sligo Rover’s centre half John Mahon (17:46) gives a rare interview to discuss his career in the north west, the various influences on his career from Ballisodare to the Underage National Leagues. He shares his experience of not just stepping into the first team during an injury crisis back in 2018 but planting both feet firmly into those first team boots at the back for Sligo.

Former FAI Cup winning coach Larry Mahony (36:25) comes on the show to talk about his new book “Let The Players Play” which gives grassroots coaches the specific tools to develop individual skills in young players.

He shares the lessons learned from coaching players at all levels from local underage teams to FAI Senior Men’s & Women’s Cup finals and Irish International players including telling a few stories of that famous FAS Course which helped to kickstart the careers of names like Roy Keane and Pat Fenlon.

His book is available at: https://bigpicturecoachingireland.com/ with the foreword by Irish manager Stephen Kenny.

Alan also takes a look through the full set of fixtures (58:27) for this week’s Premier Division and First Division fixtures. (Recorded prior to the cancellation of the Sligo Rovers v Waterford fixture)

Jamie Hollywood & Liam Kerrigan

This week on the show we’re joined by two of the players flying high at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division as Jamie Hollywood of league leaders Athlone Town and UCD forward Liam Kerrigan join co-hosts Dean Zambra and Breifne Earley to discuss their blistering start to a very competitive season.

Dean & Breifne (1:35) start with a look back at Friday night’s action across both divisions, including Derry’s comeback against Bohs and Shelbourne & Treaty’s injury time exploits as well as Dean’s return to the squad after a brief injury kept him out of Longford Town’s team in recent weeks.

Athlone midfielder Jamie Hollywood (23:18) dropped in to chat about Athlone’s table topping form so far despite defeat to Cabinteely on Friday night, his return to the league after a spell with Crumlin United last year and setting goals within the playing squad.

Jamie dismisses the suggestion that he should be surprised to be at the top of the league at this point proving that there is plenty of fight in their underdog squad, believing that they can go toe to toe with any other side in the league.

Liam Kerrigan (38:30) chats about his side’s free scoring start to the season that has been starting whispers about a title challenge. He also discusses his sides 6-0 victory in Wexford on Friday and the first minute dismissal of the Jimmy Corcoran which effectively ended the game as a contest. The sending off of his replacement an hour later added insult to injury for the Slaneysiders.

Kerrigan chats about his time in Sligo, his inspirations and some of the coaches who helped his developments through Real Tubber, the Sligo / Leitrim League and the Bit O’Red to provide the opportunity to move to Belfield in 2019.

Dean also talks through the full set of fixtures (55:04) set for this week’s Premier Division double round with games on Monday and next weekend’s action.

Chris Shields & Alan Kelly

This week on the show Dundalk FC Captain Chris Shields and former League of Ireland and Champions League referee Alan Kelly, now employing his match whistle stateside in the MLS, chat to co-hosts Alan Keane and Breifne Earley.

First order of business (0:09) is discussing the circumstances in which Alan was a no-show covering the Sligo Rovers game for Ocean FM in the Showgrounds on Saturday night. His emergency call out with the Sligo Fire Service took precedence over the game. It’s fine though, Joey Ndo (2:04) has firmly put his name in as a commentary option after his orgasmic WatchLOI debut at the same fixture.

Alan chats back through the results and news of the last week (3:26) with a double round of Premier Division fixtures, a full First Division slate and managerial changes and rumours in three of the clubs in the Premier Division with the return of Ruaidhri Higgins and Raff Cretaro to the league in the Derry City dugout.

Chris Shields (27:41) pops in to chat about Dundalk’s start to the season and how the mood is within the camp. He discusses the loss of Shane Keegan and Filippo Giovagnoli from the staff and how they have finally gotten their season up and running with their first win in the Louth derby against Drogheda last weekend.

Chris outlines the standard’s that have been set in Oriel Park in recent years and while the club’s league start has been sluggish by their own high standards he tells us about the plans for the campaign as their new signings become acclimatised to the surroundings in Dundalk.

When quizzed about how his Lithuanian or Korean has improved this season, he confirmed he has more trouble with the local Dundalk accent or Jim Magilton’s Belfast brogue.

All the way from Boston, former League of Ireland and UEFA referee Alan Kelly (45:07) drops in to the podcast all the way from the USA about his life, with the whistle in the MLS, over the last 8 seasons.

He discusses the differences between the two leagues, being nominated as MLS Referee of the Year on three occasions (2015, 16 & 2018) since moving stateside.

He talks about the supports for officials in the league with regular collective camps for fitness and education elements, the huge distances he was travelling each and every week to officiate once or twice a week and how he’ll never complain about driving from Cork to Derry ever again.

Alan also talks through the full set of fixtures set for this week’s Premier Division double round with games on Friday and Bank Holiday Monday and over next weekend.

James Claffey & Graham Merrigan

This week on the show we’re joined by Cobh Ramblers first team coach James Claffey and Shamrock Rovers super fan Graham Merrigan to chat about their season so far with co-hosts Dean Zambra and Breifne Earley.

James Claffey discusses his professional experience as a Sports & Exercise Psychology Consultant and lecturer at IBAT and Kilroy College which led to his involvement with a variety of sports teams. He chats about the growing role of psychology practitioners within the sport here in the league.

He talks about helping to create a culture where players can grow and develop within the existing club structure on and off the pitch. James also discusses the “White Coat Syndrome”, a stigma that still exists within the sports world about engaging with with psychology professional and the fact that most of the work with players is unseen and unmeasurable in the manner that strength and conditioning results can be recorded.

Super fan and podcaster Graham Merrigan joins the lads to talk about Rover’s return to the top of the table, Graham Burke’s long range goal on Tuesday evening as well as the problems the club are having replacing the creativity of Jack Byrne as they struggle to unlock defences so far this season.

He chat’s about the versatility of new arrivals like Sean Hoare, Sean Gannon and Danny Mandriou and the impact they have made so far in the season. He also looks forward to the first Dublin derby next weekend.

Dean & Breifne also take a look at the many news stories of the week from around the league including managerial changes at Oriel Park and confusion and clarifying statements from Brian Murphy after rumours started circulating about his future with Waterford.

Dean also talks through the full set of fixtures set for this week’s Premier Division double round with games on Tuesday and over next weekend.

John Gill & John Caulfield

This week Alan Keane & Breifne Earley are joined by league & FAI Cup winning coaches John Gill and John Caulfield. The two experienced campaigners, in opposite dugouts just two short seasons ago at the table topping clash between Dundalk and Cork, speak about the changes in both their own and their then club’s situations in the time since.

First Alan Keane runs through the games played last weekend across both divisions in the SSE Airtricity league including the late cancellation of the Cabinteely clash with Galway United which fell foul of Covid restrictions after a reported Covid 19 positive case in the Dublin side’s camp.

He also discusses the Clash of the Rovers as the game erupted in the last few minutes with Shamrock Rovers forcing a late equaliser after a goalkeeping mistake had handed the Bit O’Red the lead late on.

Former Dundalk manager John Gill (22:34) discusses what he’s been up to since leaving Oriel Park midway through last season. He chats about keeping an active interest in the league and how he has been impressed with Pat’s but that it’s going to be a tough call for any side to finish higher than Rovers.

Gill does a deep dive into his most recent role at Dundalk, the reasons behind his own decision to leave the club and the changes made around the club on and off the pitch.

He details the subtle, but important, differences between his role at Dundalk and the roles of Alan Mathews at Pat’s and Shane Keegan at Dundalk now as well as interactions from outside influences internally within the club and externally via social and mainstream media.

John Caulfield (46:36) talks about how his move to Galway United came about midway through last season and the changes he’s brought to the now full time operation at Eamonn Deacy Park with morning and double sessions the norm in the City of the Tribes.

Caulfield explains the fantastic work being done behind the scenes in Galway and the steps that have been taken by the enthusiastic members of the club’s board to back his ambitious plans to bring success back to United.

He outlines his concerns about the transient nature of the game and the way a few poor results can change the mood around a club and throughout a fan base. He discusses the need for all clubs in the league to attract better quality of sponsors and partners.

That’s a first step to allow players to be paid 52 weeks of the year, with a guarantee of getting their wages each and every week all year around.

Caulfield, who spend his formative years west of the Shannon, splitting his time between Galway and his adopted home of West Cork where his family are based.

Finally Alan and Breifne discuss the weekend’s fixtures (74:00) in both divisions ahead of another busy weekend as well as a quick fire run through the first round of mid week fixtures next week.

Lee Steacy & Paul McLoone

This week Dean Zambra & Breifne Earley peel back the layers at Longford Town as goalkeeper Lee Steacy joins his captain on the show. Breifne also chats to Finn Harps director Paul McLoone who’s been leading the push for the New Finn Harps Stadium project.

Dean & Breifne chat through last weekend’s action in both divisions of the SSE Airtricity League with the clash of Shamrock Rovers and Dundalk and Dean’s own Longford Town side hosting Sligo Rovers in a tight encounter topping the bill.

Lee Steacy (30:31) discusses his experience of the difference in levels between the First Division and the Premier Division and the miniscule amount of time even goalkeepers are given on the ball talking about the intensity of players like David Cawley of Sligo Rovers and Derry City’s David Parkhouse.

Steacy talks about the first three games and the experience of starting so well with the win and clean sheet against Derry, the comeback in Dalymount and the disappointment of defeat to Sligo.

He gets quizzed about the motivation for going to attack a corner late in the league game against Sligo and his ambitions to grab a league goal as a goalkeeper at some point in his career. Dean also asks him to discuss the quality of the goalkeepers currently plying their trade in the league.

Breifne has a chat with Finn Harps director Paul McLoone (45:20), a retired senior public servant in the north west, who has been heading up the New Finn Harps Stadium project for the last few years. The club received fantastic news last week with the announcement of a financial allocation of almost €4m from the Department of Sport through the Large Scale Sport Infrastructure Fund (LSSIF).

He outlines the history of the stadium project and how he personally got involved after attending a public meeting in Ballybofey three years ago and the work that has revived the stalled development since then.

He explains the vital partnerships with Donegal County Council and the local partners in building a sporting hub in the twin towns of Ballybofey and Stranorlar to retain Finn Park as a dedicated venue for the club’s academy and women’s football within the region alongside a new stadium and training facility at the new site beside the Finn Valley Sports Centre.

Finally Dean and Breifne discuss the weekend’s fixtures (63:13) in both divisions of the league ahead of another busy weekend.

Stephen O’Donnell, Michael O’Connor & Jack Keaney

This weekend St. Pat’s manager Stephen O’Donnell, Shels attacker Michael O’Connor and UCD Captain Jack Keaney join Alan Keane and Breifne Earley to talk about their respective starts to their SSE Airtricity League seasons.

Alan Keane talks through the games of the last week including briefly discussing Ireland’s qualifier defeats in Belgrade and at the hands of Luxemebourg. With the second round of the Premier Division and opening weekend of the First Division there was plenty to talk about on the show.

Stephen O’Donnell joins us to discuss Bill King’s last minute winner against Drogheda United and two fine performances in Tallaght and against the Drog’s last weekend. He chats about the management structure at the club and the role that Alan Mathews is playing within the setup.

He also chats about the impact of players who’ve arrived at the club this season as well as the goals scored this weekend by players who’ve left Richmond Park for other pastures in 2021.

Shel’s recruit Michael O’Connor talks about his side’s performance in their league opener at Eamonn Deacy Park where they took home a point despite being reduced to ten men in the first half of the game between the expected title challengers.

He discusses his last few seasons bouncing around a few clubs including Dundalk, Linfield, Waterford, Ross County before his arrival at Shels this season where he plans to take advantage of his reunion with Alan Reynolds who was his manager during his most enjoyable spell in the game at Waterford.

UCD captain Jack Keaney spoke about mixing his studies and his football career in Belfield and the difference between his life as a professional with Sligo Rovers and the student lifestyle.

He talked about the importance of having a qualification to fall back on when the football days are done and dusted eventually, especially considering the experience of his brother’s retirement from inter county gaelic games due to injury in his mid 20’s.

He talks about the professional setup at UCD, the role models who have progressed through the club to professional careers throughout the league and further afield and his own ambitions to have a long term ambitions to play and eventually coach within the sport.