JOHNNY GILES had promised to take in one of Leeds United’s training sessions in Ireland and he was as good as his word this morning, braving the Dublin rain.
Back in the day, the former Leeds midfielder and the rest of Don Revie’s squad prepared for the new season without any of the mod-cons provided for United at the FAI’s recently-finished training complex.
Pre-season under Revie was carried out on Fullerton Park and also involved endless runs around Roundhay Park. The FAI’s home on the western edge of Dublin is a collection of pristine pitches and the type of facilities professional clubs look for - superior by some margin to those used by Simon Grayson’s squad at Dublin City University in 2009.
“This is much better what we ever had but pre-season is hard work wherever you are,” Giles said. “These are beautiful facilities here, it’s a beautiful place.”
Giles was joined at the FAI’s base by the mayor and chief executive of Fingal County Council, Darragh Butler and Paul Reid, and his appearance drew a steady stream of club staff looking for photos.
Massimo Cellino was absent, however - avoiding a meeting between two men who are unlikely to ever be drinking mates.
Giles, who made almost 400 league appearances for United, ended his playing career at Shamrock Rovers, the side who Leeds meet in their second Irish friendly tomorrow. Due to other commitments, he won’t be attending the game.
He also worked for the Tallaght club as player-manager, although it was clear from speaking to Giles today that coaching was not his calling in life. For the past 30 years he has worked as a pundit for Irish TV station RTE but Euro 2016 marked the end of his contract there. Now 75,Giles - a newspaper columnist and radio pundit - has no intention of retiring.
SHAMROCK ROVERS are not alone in turning around quickly after tonight’s Dublin derby with Bohemians. Tomorrow, as Leeds and Rovers meet at Tallaght Stadium, Bohemians will host Rafael Benitez’s Newcastle United at Dalymount Park, 20 or so miles away.
Benitez’s players are based at the Carlton House Hotel in County Kildare, no more than a stone’s throw from the FAI headquarters - providing a perfect opportunity for both Championship clubs to sneak a look at each other with the new season three weeks away.
THE start of the Championship term can feel distant when clubs are ticking through training sessions and friendlies but Leeds have already announced ticket details for their opening league game, away at Queens Park Rangers.
QPR have given United an allocation of 3,100 with adult prices ranging between £27 and £34. Those numbers are far removed from the pricing structure at a club like Shamrock Rovers whose season tickets prices for children equate to around £3 a game.
Certain sections of Loftus Road, though, will allow United fans under the age of eight to enter free with a paying adult. Leeds’ official website has the full details.