Friday 10th July 2015 ko 19.45
League of Ireland First Division
SHELBOURNE 1 (English 55)
The previous day I’d spent a faintly boring few minutes strolling round the bookshop at the airport. These days the sport section is full of Premier League players’ ghost-written “auto”-biographies, and for the most part they follow a similar pattern. Usually a child is discovered by a club, then quickly graduates through the ranks, makes his first team debut, then fame and fortune follow. But what happens to those who for one reason or another don’t make it?
Three years ago I watched Oxford United play Didcot Town in a pre-season friendly and reported as follows. The star of the show that day was young triallist Dylan McGlade, who’d just been released after his apprenticeship finished at Middlesbrough. I was amazed he wasn’t signed, even though he’d had some time out through injury. It transpired that the club had agreed to sign Ryan Williams from Fulham on loan for six months, but after Christmas McGlade would replace him. The trouble was that a week before he was due to sign, he broke his ankle so Williams’ loan was extended to the end of the season. Dylan’s father Carl introduced himself to me and admitted advising his son to come home was a dreadful phone call to make.
Since then he’s played for Shelbourne, and is still only 20. He clearly has ambitions to play at a higher level, and from a personal perspective I wanted to see the quick-silver winger in action, the only issue from McGlade’s view was where! He tweeted,
“Cabinteely for a ground hop? Jaysus could have at least picked a home game in Tolka🏼 should be a decent game anyway “
And on arrival at Stradbrook Road, at that point at the south of Dublin when it becomes Dún Laoghaire, you could see his point. The ground belongs to Blackrock College RUFC, and Cabinteely moved here from their traditional home Kilbogget Park, on election for this year’s Irish League. Now I didn’t get the chance to see Kilbogget, but there really isn’t much at Stradbrook. As you’d expect from a rugby ground, the clubhouse is large, and well-appointed, but pitchside there’s no cover, and the temporary bank of seats was out-of-bounds, due it seemed to the rack being damaged. Still the rain mostly held off and the club coped well with the bumper crowd. The trouble for me was that within a few minutes I saw the reason for Dylan’s tweet.
For their maiden season Cabinteely have assembled a committed, workmanlike team, but their strengths are closing down, and keeping play tight. Just 13 goals in 16 games coming into this game speaks volumes, and the club are second bottom, with just Waterford below them, in eighth place. Shebourne’s strength is pace on both wings, McGlade on the left and Gareth Coughlan on the right. The hosts set out to stifle the supply, limiting the wingers to scraps, although one mazy run from McGlade hinted at talent that deserves a bigger stage.
The goal, almost inevitably came from a cross from the left, except it wasn’t McGlade that delivered it! He and Coughlan had switched wings at half-time, so it was Coughlan who found James English on debut to head home for a deserved winner.
That, save for a blast from Coughlan that clipped the post, was it in so far as action was concerned, and I suspect the Shelbourne team will have headed back to Drumcondra happy with the result if not the performance. There was one intriguing cameo to witness as the game wound down. Edward McDonagh’s substitute appearance sent me scurrying to the internet. He is the son of Bohemian, and Shamrock Rovers legend Jacko McDonagh, and Jacko, like Dylan McGlade had a short spell, in 1988, playing for Oxford United; it is after all a small world.
Travelling I do, I’m used to the unusual, but this evening left me with mixed feelings. It was by anyone’s standards a poor game at a poor ground, and it is sad seeing a talent like Dylan McGlade playing at this level through no fault of his own. However it was good to see him healthy, happy and playing, and at the age of 20 he still has the chance to play at a higher level. I hope that someone reads this, and gives him the chance.