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Rock the Crossbar

Saturday, March 25

Reading Promoted

Reading clinched promotion to the Premiership today which has to be good news for the Ireland and American national sides. Hahnemann in goals and former Cork City striker Kevin Doyle are generally considered to be have been their star performers this season. Convey also seems to have forced his way onto the first X1.

The Doyle story is an interesting one as he didn't follow the typical path to playing in England that Irish kids have traditionally take i.e. leaving school at 16, moving over to a club in England, a tiny minority make it while the rest slide down through the tables and end up moving back to try play League of Ireland football.

Like John O'Shea, Doyle actually finished school and then signed for St. Patrick's Athletic in Dublin before moving to Cork City in 2003 at the age of 20. Last Summer he signed for Reading for just £85,000 and has scored 15 goals for them already this season. With Robbie Keane playing very well these days, the prospect of Doyle and Keane up front for Ireland is exciting.

Every club in the top division of the league of Ireland is now full-time professional so I think this is a model we will see become more and more common where kids choose to finish school, then play professionally for a couple of years in Ireland before moving to a British club if there is interest. I think this works well for all parties as the Irish clubs can get some half-decent money especially when they insist on sell-on clauses, the British clubs get a little more of a known quantity in that they are buying a player who has played for a couple of years for a professional club in front of 5000 people as opposed to a raw 16 year old. The player gets to have some experience under his belt before he makes the move and also gets to do it at an age (18-21) where he is more mature and less likely to let it all go to his head and throw it away.


  • The Irish Independent had an interesting enough article on this change back in Dec:

    THE proposed transfer of Jason Byrne to Swedish League champions Djurgardens offers further proof that the stock of the Eircom League is rising.

    And, with a fee of up to €600,000 being mentioned it seems that the League's days of being a bargain hunter's dream are about to end.

    Already this season we have seen Sunderland and Reading snap up two of the best young strikers in the domestic game for ridiculously low sums.

    Reading boss Steve Coppell might joke that he had too many pints of Guinness on the day he first saw Cork City's Kevin Doyle but he was clear-headed when it came to doing the deal.

    The £85,000 he paid for Doyle is set to go down as the steal of the season as the 22-year-old has taken the English Championship by storm with eight goals in 22 league games for table-toppers Reading.

    In addition, he was called into the Ireland squad last October for the World Cup qualifiers against Cyprus and Switzerland and made the bench for the game in Nicosia. When he does eventually play for Ireland, Cork will get £10,000 for his first friendly game and £10,000 for his competitive bow.

    Doyle is now valued at over £1m and each goal for Reading adds to the level of frustration on Leeside.

    Sunderland spent £100,000 on Waterford striker Daryl Murphy last June and gave him his Premiership debut in October against West Ham. After three further first team games they sent him on loan to Sheffield Wednesday.

    Snapping up bargains in Ireland has long been a pastime of English clubs and they have been helped by several factors.

    One is the reluctance of clubs to stand in the way of a player's chance to chase his dream of playing in England while the cash-strapped nature of most clubs meant they were rarely in a strong negotiating position.

    The part-time nature of the League also weakened the position of negotiating clubs as they were unable to counter the English arguments that they were gambling on an unproven player.

    The switch to full-time professionalism has certainly negated that argument and five goals in the Champions League this season plus 47 league goals over the past two seasons speaks volumes for Byrne's talent.

    While Djurgardens were knocked out of the Champions League by Cork City they still went on to record a league and cup double in Sweden and several members of their squad like Mattias Jonson, Tobias Hysen and Daniel Sjolund will be in Sweden's squad at next summer's World Cup.

    British clubs have reaped rich rewards over the years for their shrewdness in the Irish transfer market.

    Packie Bonner is rated among the greatest goalkeepers ever to play for Celtic yet he only cost the Glasgow club a couple of football strips when he became Jock Stein's last signing in 1978.

    That was the year Nottingham Forest made Trevor Francis the world's first million pound player so it puts into perspective the £30,000 Paul McGrath cost Manchester United when signed from St Patrick's Athletic and the £50,000 Shamrock Rovers got for Jim Beglin in 1982.

    One of the best bargains was in 1990 when Nottingham Forest paid Cobh Ramblers £30,000 for a certain Roy Maurice Keane and the Cork club watched in horror three years later when he was sold to Manchester United for a record £3.25 million and they realised their folly in not insisting on a sell-on clause.

    One club who did was Dundalk who transfered Steve Staunton to Liverpool in 1986 for £20,000 which was a tidy sum given that he hadn't played a first team game for Dundalk.

    Dundalk director Enda McGuill insisted on the club getting 10 per cent of any subsequent transfer and his shrewdness earned the Co Louth outfit £111,000.

    Cork boss Damien Richardson believes that the amount of money being talked about for Jason Byrne transfer could prove to be a watershed.

    "We are now moving in a more realistic direction and it helps that he is a full-time player," said Richardson.

    "It can be hard for part-time players to adjust a full-time set up when they are transfered but it won't be any problem for Jason if it does happen.

    "Every future transfer will be benchmarked against this and the fact that it is a Swedish club shows how the league is being viewed abroad," he said.

    If Byrne does go for the £600,000 figure currently being suggested then we edge closer to the day when somebody comes in and pays £1million for an Eircom League player and it could be sooner than we think.

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 2:07 PM  

  • Very interesting. Wonder what this will do for the likes of Richie Baker or whatever that lads name was whose bird worked at IHOP.

    By Blogger Chris P, at 10:05 AM  

  • IHOP? Think it was Shenanigans. He is back with Shelbourne but I don't think he is even getting his game there either.

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 2:08 PM  

  • Good stuff this - John, do you ever forsee a time when the Irish follow their own league more than the Prem/Scots Prem? I would think every country would want its people to be interested in its own league ideally. Is this a step to get there (full time pro's) or is it a case of people will never change from watching their habits of United and Liverpool.

    By Blogger Simon Burke, at 10:09 AM  

  • Follow it more than England and Scotland? God no. Its popularity has grown since they switched to a summer schedule a few years ago though. It also means that the Irish teams are now at their peak fitness and sharpness when the CL qualifying rounds start in August. Cork City and Shelbourne have come pretty close to making the group stage the last couple of years - getting to the third and last qualifying round both years. Shels drew 0-0 with Depotivo at home and then lost 3-1 in Spain. If one of them somehow squeeks in there some year it will make a huge difference with the cash injection it would bring.

    By Blogger TheBusbyBoy, at 10:27 PM  

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