Analysis: Conte change unclutters the centre for City

Alan O’Brien 

Surely even Pep Guardiola did not imagine the success Fabian Delph’s unusual instructions would engender. Designed, presumably, to copper-fasten Manchester City’s customary possession-dominance, Delph’s turn as an inside-left-back also tempted Antonio Conte into the tactical call that cost Chelsea this game. Continue reading

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Analysis: Back-post Buckley breaks Limerick hearts

Alan O’Brien 

Less a cup semi-final, more an exercise in underlining the scale of squad surgery facing Neil McDonald this winter. Only 15 minutes of Cork City effort, laser-focused on Limerick’s left-flank, was required to seal the Leesiders’ third-straight FAI Cup final appearance. Continue reading

Analysis: Dundalk fail to beat Cork at their own game

Alan O’Brien 

Much like the celebratory title bubbly, still frustratingly iced tonight, Dundalk were Corked here. Stephen Kenny’s side tried, and failed, to beat the Leesiders at their own game. In the end, a scantly-deserved point proved a fortunate, but probably meaningless, outcome. Continue reading

Analysis: Foxes misfortune, fist-pumps, and familiar Liverpool fragility

Alan O’Brien 

Celebratory quintuple fist-pumps — for the cameras, natch — are all well and good. Requesting more reserve from one’s five midfielders, to defend a seemingly unassailable lead, is probably wiser. No prizes for guessing which box Jurgen Klopp ticked. Continue reading

Analysis: McDonald’s man-management vindicated by sweet Munster derby success

Alan O’Brien 

On a night of sweet vindication for Neil McDonald, Limerick FC defeated champions-elect Cork City to pull five points clear of the relegation zone. Continue reading

Analysis: Profligate Palace spare parked Burnley bus

Alan O’Brien 

From a neutral perspective, Chris Wood’s 3rd-minute strike represented a worst-case scenario realised. So followed an eon of Burnley pressure-absorption, and a late Crystal Palace barrage, that the hosts were lucky to survive. Continue reading

Analysis: Loose Galway licked by resurgent Limerick

Alan O’Brien 

This truly was the archetypal cup-tie. Free from the yoke of clear-and-present relegation danger, both Galway United and Limerick FC contested an incredibly open game that could have gone either way. Ultimately, it was the latter who punished the former for their shared looseness. Continue reading