Sporting Advent Calendar #10: Dundalk’s double and Richie Towell’s heroics

Stephen Kenny’s team confirm their dominance with FAI Cup final win over Cork

Dundalk’s Richie Towell celebrates after the FAI Cup final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dundalk’s Richie Towell celebrates after the FAI Cup final. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Not much more can be said about this current Dundalk team. They are simply the best League of Ireland team in a decade. The job Stephen Kenny has done at Oriel Park is remarkable and has brought football back to its thriving best in Louth.

You have to go back to the Shelbourne team of the 2004 Champions League-run to find a squad better than the current crop of Lilywhites. Although Cork City put up a valiant attempt in keeping up at the summit of the table it was always going to be Dundalk who would claim a second consecutive title.

And then, to top it off, an extra-time win over Cork in the FAI Cup final completed a remarkable double. And who else could it be to score the goal that would crown the season off but Richie Towell.

Towell’s incredible feat of scoring 27 goals from midfield has not gone unnoticed and he will now ply his trade in England next season with Brighton and Hove Albion. The Crumlin-man is not short on confidence and has made clear his intentions of being included in Martin O’Neill’s squad for next summer’s European Championships.

It’s a sad fact that, for Towell to be included, he must be playing in England. The question of whether a current League of Ireland player can make it into an Ireland squad has really been answered by Towell himself. If a player can be as instrumental to a double-winning team as the 24-year-old was this season, yet still not be considered for inclusion in the national team, then the chances are nobody can.

But, what is worth noting is that, if Towell had been included in the provisional squad for the playoff against Bosnia and Herzegovina, he would have been the 10th player in it to have played in the national league. Giovanni Trapattoni’s comments that “there is no league in Ireland” are beginning to look even more questionable.

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