Stadium: Tallaght Stadium
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Occupant: Shamrock Rovers Football Club
Failte from South Dublin and Tallaght Stadium, home of the Shamrock Rovers. On this particular evening, Rovers were hosting Cork City in their Airtricty League of Ireland regular season home opener.
The stadium is fantastic. It is brick construction and feels like what I think of when I think small town European soccer. There are 3 grandstands. West grandstand is the main seating stand. South end is dominated by the Rovers’ primary supporters groups, and the East side stands have a large area reserved for the visiting team’s supporters.
Inside there is a midway that circles the grandstands. The small town feel of the midway, with it’s smattering of mismatched snack stalls, feels like a Roddy Doyle story setting. For souvenirs, there is a “megastore” that closes at kickoff (which I missed), that I was told would reopen after the match (it did not).
The seating is GA. And from what I saw, it feels like each section may be it’s own neighborhood. Long time supporters seem to find their friends and sit together in groups. The fans were fantastic. Very attentive, and lived and died with every shot. There was some heckling of the referee, and when a Cork man was sent off with a red in the first half, he was met with a round of sarcastic applause that made me – a long time Philly sports fan – feel very much at home.
The Cork supporters, who I hear are going to have a rough road to hoe this season, started in full voice, cheering loudly over the pre-game music presentation. But as the game wore on, and possibly with the inclement weather, they grew more and more quiet as we charged towards full time.
The game itself was wildly entertaining. Rovers are the class of the league, defending league and cup champions, and Cork might be in danger of relegation. The home side dominated ball possession and the Cork backline was overwhelmed from whistle to whistle. Rovers’ center attacking midfielder Graham Burke scored 5 of the team’s 6 goals, and goalkeeper Alan Mannus recorded a clean sheet.
Game presentation was charming. Loud music that was roughly switched from song to song, sometimes mid-song. The public address announcer was quaint. Didn’t overextend himself to be a major league disembodied voice. But he wasn’t so “homespun” that he came off rube-ish. The perfect voice for the stadium. The only announcements during the game were goals scored (of which there were many) and player substitutions.
Post game was short as fans were eager to get out of the rain.
This is going to wrap it up for our sports tour of Ireland. Another day and a half in Dublin before we return to Massachusetts.