Opinion: Strong defence behind Treaty United's unbeaten start to season

Mon, May 03 2021

“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles,” - the famous words of Sir Alex Ferguson, and Treaty United have taken a leaf out of that book.

Such a comparison doesn’t imply that the Limerick outfit will win the First Division this season, but it’s a major reason behind their unbeaten start to their maiden League of Ireland season.

After a shortened pre-season, Tommy Barrett’s side have played six games, and are yet to taste defeat.

It has been well documented that the Shannonsiders had just five weeks to prepare themselves for their first ever League of Ireland outing – along with the three days they had to assemble a squad.

An absence of regular goal scorers is one major void along with a shortage of experience at this level, but the squad’s biggest strength is their defensive solidity.

Treaty have only conceded five goals so far, the joint-fewest by any side in the division. When you supplement this with organisation, character, and resilience, you have a clear recipe for success.


Had you offered a point to Barrett’s side before the start of Friday night’s game away to searing hot title favourites Shelbourne, chances are the Limerick native would have taken it.

Shelbourne are a potent side – as seen with their games against Cork City, Bray Wanderers and Cabinteely, but they found it immensely hard to break down the visitors in the opening half on Friday night.

Over half an hour had passed when Ian Morris’ men registered their first shot on target, a weak effort by Glen McAuley.

The Dubliners played with more conviction in the second half, but it took them until the 90th minute to score when substitute Ryan Brennan eventually pulled one back.

Five minutes later, Yoyo Mahdy appeared to have won the game for Shelbourne, but their lead only lasted two minutes as Clyde O’Connell rescued a point with a last-gasp equaliser.

We are now over 540 minutes into the new campaign and Treaty have only been behind for two of them, which is a remarkable achievement by any stretch of the imagination.

This record is indicative of their strength at the back, and it all starts between the posts where ex-Huddersfield Town keeper Tadhg Ryan has been very assured.


In the outfield department, Treaty are blessed with strong, versatile players.

Midfielder Mark Walsh is a classic case in point, and he provides the defence with protection in midfield.

After suffering a broken jaw, the midfielder and his club will be hoping for a swift return from the side-lines.

Jack Lynch is another – with the ex-Galway United star executing his defensive duties with distinction while also offering them plenty with his attacking prowess.

The same can be said for their centre-halve and leading scorer Anthony O’Donnell while Marc Ludden is just the consummate all-rounder.

Ludden has made some important clearances at the back as well as being the main architect behind nearly all goals scored by Treaty so far.

The Limerick men have found the net seven times and Ludden has been involved in all but one of those goals.

While Treaty’s reliance on Ludden is a minor concern, the good news is that Dean George is back in action while Conor Melody and Joel Coustrain should also bolster their attacking ranks further when they recover from injury.

Regardless of how long it takes them to recover, Treaty are well-equipped for any challenge with such a solid rearguard.


Treaty’s foundation on a watertight defence is akin to the Premier Division’s top two Shamrock Rovers and St Patrick’s Athletic – despite the gulf in quality between Treaty and their Dublin counterparts.

The legendary Italian defender when describing his duties as a footballer compared the skill of defending to minding his house.

As described by Italian defender Leonardo Bonucci: “I do not want anyone to trespass and invade my property because that goal is my property.”

Thus far, it is evident that Treaty United are singing from the same hymn sheet. As they continue applying that logic, they’ll be spending more time in the house of fun instead of the house of pain.

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