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Stephen Craigan: League of Ireland must be envious of gripping Irish League battles

 

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Crusaders Jordan Owens celebrates after scoring the winner against Coleraine last week. Credit: Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Crusaders Jordan Owens celebrates after scoring the winner against Coleraine last week. Credit: Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

Star turn: Crusaders ace Jamie McGonigle is one of the Irish League’s quality players

Star turn: Crusaders ace Jamie McGonigle is one of the Irish League’s quality players

Crusaders Jordan Owens celebrates after scoring the winner against Coleraine last week. Credit: Inpho/Stephen Hamilton

After working at Coleraine v Crusaders last Friday and watching Cliftonville v Linfield on Monday night, I have to say the Irish Premiership seldom fails to deliver.

At times it's not for the purists, I get that, but it's compulsive viewing in its own right.

What I love about it is that it's real football; full-blooded tackles, defenders love defending and you have to earn every point you get.

I watch a lot of football and I can tell you that's not always the case. There's a real honesty about the players and they have to be admired for it.

People seem to bypass the quality on show at times, but you only need to look at homegrown talent like Jamie McGonigle, Joel Cooper and Paul O'Neill to see it's staring you in the face.

I know the League of Ireland is soon to kick-off and the much-maligned All-Ireland League seems to be a distant dream.

They must be looking at our league with a tinge of jealousy as just three points separate the top five.

It's one of the most competitive top-flight leagues in Europe, if not the most competitive.

Our southern neighbours are desperate for much more competition in their own league, hence the reason why a combined idea was put on the table.

But, as it stands, our lads are leading the way and mixing hard work with quality. Long may it continue.

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