By 90Min
January 17, 2018

There are a few essentials that every professional footballer cannot do without. A decent kit is useful, and a relatively untarnished pair of football boots can come in handy; but perhaps the most important of all - for health and safety reasons - is a good pair of shin pads. 

With this in mind, ahead of the 2018 Airtricity League season, PFA Ireland have kindly gifted the latter to last season's runners-up Dundalk. 

Potentially seeing the need to console a Lilywhites side that heartbreakingly lost last year's FAI Cup final to bitter rivals Cork City on penalties, at the end of a discussion with the club's staff, the Irish PFA handed out brand new pairs of GForm shin pads to every player in attendance. 

Undoubtedly, these shin pads will be cherished by a team playing in a notoriously onerous and scrappy league. Last season alone, there were 12 red cards shown in Dundalk games, including an astonishing - and weirdly impressive - five sending offs in a seven-week period at the tail end of the season. 

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Caption this. #PreSeason #CmonTheTown

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The gifting of shin pads to arguably the best team in Ireland, however, can perhaps be construed as a sign of the financial state of football in Ireland. With no stadiums having a capacity of over 8,000 - and frankly no team with enough fans to fill a stadium any larger - it has been incredibly difficult for sides to sustain themselves in recent seasons. 

Some of the country's most historically successful clubs such as Derry City, Cork City and Shelbourne have all faced relegation due to their financial woes over the past 15 years alone. 

The situation has not been helped by the FAI, who embarrassingly announced a €5,000 per club funding scheme in 2016 to aid clubs with running costs. Unsurprisingly, this funding was seen as hugely disrespectful, and was quickly rejected by every Airtricity League club.

Dundalk will kick start their 2018 Artricity League campaign at home to Bray Wanderers on 16th February. 

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