Leeds United: Dublin tour diary

Leeds United midfielder Alex Mowatt during Wednesday's friendly win over Shelbourne.
Leeds United midfielder Alex Mowatt during Wednesday's friendly win over Shelbourne.
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Read the final part of Phil Hay's diary from Leeds United's tour of Ireland.

Football is popular enough in the Republic of Ireland but it is nothing like a national sport. It fights for space in most newspapers amid heavy coverage of Gaelic football, hurling, golf, horse racing and rugby union.

Leeds United normally make the local press when they travel abroad - front and back pages on occasions - but neither they nor any of the other English clubs in Ireland have earned much of a mention this week. United have largely kept themselves to themselves, though broadcaster RTE staged an interview with Monk on Friday morning.

The Ulster Senior Football Final - Gaelic football - between Donegal and Tyrone is a good example of how interest in Eire strays easily to other sports and finds the League of Ireland particularly hard to stick with.

The crowd for last year’s Ulster final between Monaghan and Donegal was recorded as 32,000. The record attendance for that fixture, set in 2004, is 67,000.

The Dublin derby between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians, a cracking game as it turned out, drew in around 3,000.

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley celebrates last night's 3-1 win over Bohemians.

Shamrock Rovers manager Stephen Bradley celebrates last night's 3-1 win over Bohemians.

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Leeds United’s players will let their hair down at the end of two long weeks in Ireland. Garry Monk and his squad are due to make the short flight home today. (July 17)

No such luck for the boys from United’s official TV station, LUTV, who head off after the friendly against Shamrock Rovers to catch the ferry back to Holyhead.

Their estimated time of arrival in Leeds is 3am.

Leeds legend Johnny Giles joins United's players at training yesterday.

Leeds legend Johnny Giles joins United's players at training yesterday.

Still, is could be worse. Last summer, United’s kit men - always in need of a white van to move equipment from place to place - drove through the night to make it to Uwe Rosler’s training camp in Austria without stopping. Taking it in shifts, the journey from Leeds took more than 30 hours.

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At this stage, Monk - whose squad evidently needs strengthening - looks like returning from Ireland without any major injuries to worry about.

Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi were ruled out of both friendlies in Dublin but Monk hopes to see them back in full training before Friday’s friendly at Guiseley.

The trip to Nethermoor might also see a first appearance of the summer for Stuart Dallas. United’s Northern Ireland international has been on honeymoon since the end of his involvement in Euro 2016 but his holiday is over and he will be back training at Thorp Arch next week. He attended today's friendly in Dublin as a spectator.

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The atmosphere at Wednesday’s friendly between Leeds United and Shelbourne - and in Dublin all week - as been placid and good-humoured, with no hint of the crowd trouble seen in Salzburg last summer.

United’s game against Eintracht Frankfurt a year ago ended with supporters fighting on the pitch at Eugendorf, something Salzburg Police blamed squarely on a group of around 100 Frankfurt fans who turned up before kick-off with balaclavas, weapons and an obvious intention to cause problems.

Four Leeds supporters paid administrative fines for their part in it the bother but the Austrian courts are still dealing with 20 Germans who were arrested before and after full-time. At the last time of asking, 17 remain under investigation while three have been charged with causing injury and rioting.

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A pre-match guide in Shamrock Rovers' dressing room at Tallaght Stadium includes a list of what the players should eat and drink around two hours before kick-off: bananas, wine gums, jelly babies, fruit pastilles, cereal bars, water and isotonic drinks. That mix did the trick as Rovers inflicted a 3-1 defeat on Dublin rivals Bohemians.

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