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League of Ireland losing the numbers game

Ronan Mullen

(This article originally appeared on The Season Ticket).

Wayne Rooney’s rapturous weekend is unlikely to have escaped the attention of even the most ardent football agnostics, images of his record-breaking goal shamelessly splashed across our senses in the days since.

Saturday’s strike marked 250-not-out for the Manchester United man, Rooney now standing alone as the club’s all-time leading scorer. A momentous milestone indeed, and one foreseen by few given his tumultuous tenure with the English giants.

An apparent desire to seek greener pastures on the blue side of Manchester looked set to put paid to any such prospect, after all, as did the palpable keenness of Sir Alex Ferguson to see him off the premises prior to his own departure.

Those ultimately proved false dawns in a career now quickly approaching its dusk, though, the veteran striker’s storied stint at Old Trafford having now belatedly entered its final chapter.

His historic goal ensures a happy ending in that regard, a 13-year United career capped with the plushest of personal accolades.

546 matches is all it took to hit the spot, a lengthy stint by any metric. In League of Ireland terms, such a spell would equate to nothing short of an eternity. Merely playing 546 minutes for one team here is worthy of celebration, after all, the perpetual short-termism of Irish clubs having always served to deny players a chance to establish meaningful roots.

Even Dundalk’s transcendent run at home and abroad hasn’t left them immune to the league’s revolving door rotation.

Indeed, despite the impressive incomings that Stephen Kenny has managed to secure for the upcoming campaign, a significant swathe of his history-making side have exited stage left.

Such is the financial make-up of the domestic game that this seasonal rendition of musical chairs is likely to endure for some time to come.

Alas, Dundalk have at least gone some way to stemming the tide. Midfielders John Mountney and Chris Shields have both signed on for season six at Oriel Park, with many of their teammates also beginning to garner more than a passing legacy in these parts.

To suggest Dundalk’s own goalscoring record is under threat from the current crop may be something of stretch, though.

The great Joey Donnelly set that particular standard almost eight decades ago, after all.

And yet, it’s worth noting present-day centre forward David McMillan is no stranger to the history books. His brace against BATE Borisov is proof enough of that. 142 is the magic number. Here’s hoping.

 

Ronan Mullen

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