A New Season Beckons – Stefan McKevitt’s Column

A New Season Beckons

We are nearly there. A new season awaits in our beloved League of Ireland! Being a big Dundalk fan, there is a renewed optimism surrounding the club following a couple of seasons of unrest and disconnect. With new owners now in charge, and a “returning son” now in the dugout as gaffer, I’m feeling quietly confident! I don’t think I’ve looked forward to a Malone Cup match as much since I made the squad for Dundalk.

There have been so many new faces entering Oriel Park, but I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the “Bear” Brian Gartland back in the Lilywhite colours. It’s been a long road back since his horrific injury in Tallaght but anyone who knows him anyway personally will know that his return, even at the age of 35, would never be in doubt and that’s testament to his character.

I am also looking forward to catching up with an old teammate in the enemies’ camp, a certain “Coolock Pitbull”, Gary Deegan. I was lucky enough to play with some talented footballers when I joined the Shelbourne Academy at 15, and Deegan was certain up there with the best. A real terrier on the pitch, a natural leader and an absolute gent and family man off the pitch. I just hope he won’t be happy with the result after the match.

I think one of the biggest “moans” approaching the season will be the LOI TV season pass falling by the wayside. I just have a sense that most saw value for money getting the season ticket last season and taking in a match while their team didn’t play. There is just no way that any fan will pay for a single match for any other club than their own. Looks destined to fail in my opinion, but time will tell.

Looking outside our LOI bubble we recently had the final of AFCON. It had been billed as the battle of the “Reds” African Superstars in Mo Salah and Sadio Mane. The match had started at a frantic pace and inside an action packed 4 mins we seen Mane have his penalty saved by the excellent Egyptian keeper, but it quickly turned into a damp squib after that. Both teams seemed afraid to lose more than have that desire to win, which unfortunately happens a lot in finals of late. In the end, Mane got redemption and scored the winning penalty in the shootout leaving Salah in tears without even getting a chance to hit the 5th penalty.

Last week, Dean Arrowsmith and I had the pleasure of sitting down and having a chat with Mark O’Brien. I encourage any football person to go watch or listen to the Head In The Game Podcast if you have the time. Mark’s story is an incredible one. He has overcome some difficulties in his career and personal life, but his outlook on everything is truly inspirational for one and all. I won’t give anymore away to people who haven’t listened yet!

Finally, I want to give my son Ross and his Woodview Celtic teammates a good luck message as they near closer the start of their u12 season in the Dundalk & District league. They have a great bunch of lads, all eager to learn the beautiful game. I had the enjoyment of travelling to Navan with a couple of them a few weeks back and their knowledge of everything Football was incredible. I know we can give out about modern technology at times, but they could tell me stats of players from obscure leagues and that really fascinated me! Hope everyone has a great week.

Over and out,

Stef

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