The long winter wait was finally over and the Eircom League campaign got underway in earnest on March 9th, with Bohs facing a tricky home tie against title favourites Drogheda United. The visitors themselves had been very busy over the winter months and manager Paul Doolin has assembled an impressive squad. With the amount of money he has spent and the players at his disposal, he will be expected to lead Drogs to success on all fronts this season.
The game was shown live on RTE and everyone involved with the two clubs and the league itself would have been hoping for a classic encounter to attract more fans to the league. Such a game never materialised and the game ended goalless. Drogheda undoubtedly should have won it and Bohs displayed a little too much of the previous season's deficiencies to provide any real hope for Bohs fans that 2007 was to be a great year for the club. Still, it was only the first game and Sean Connor's new team will undoubtedly take time to gel. No cause for panic, but then no case for any real optimism either. The jury is still out!
Here is a copy of the report I did of this game for the soon to be launched extratime.ie website.
Hopefully over the course of the season I will be reporting on most of the games from Dalymount Park for extratime, so look out for links and more information on this soon.
Anyway, here's the report...
Bohemians vs Drogheda Utd
Bohemians and Drogheda United played out a disappointing scoreless draw at Dalymount Park tonight as the 2007 Eircom Premier League season got underway.
Drogheda should have grabbed all three points just after half time when Glen Fitzpatrick ran clean through on goal only to fire a weak effort straight at Bohs Keeper Brian Murphy.
The away side also had two strong penalty shouts turned down during the second period as they pressed for a winner.
Bohemians best chance came on 76 minutes when substitute Darren Mansaram narrowly failed to connect with a dipping Dessie Byrne cross from six yards.
The game marked Sean Connor's first competitive match in charge at Dalymount as he looks to bring the glory days back to the Phibsboro club. The former Sligo boss included no less than six of his summer signings in the Bohemians starting line-up, with Dean Pooley filling in for Thomas Heary in midfield after the former Huddersfield man was ruled out of the game with flu. Glenn Crowe partnered fellow new signing Neil Fenn in attack with other new recruits Brian Murphy, Liam Burns and Owen Heary also making their competitive debuts.
Meanwhile, Paul Doolin's Drogheda were looking to bounce back from last week's defeat to Linfield in the opening game of the Setanta Cup. The Boynesiders made two changes from the side that started that game, with Brian Kelly coming in for the suspended Jason Gavin and Declan O'Brien coming in for Sami Ristila in attack.
It was Drogheda who carved out the first chance of a poor first half when Cahill fired narrowly wide from 20 yards after 18 minutes. Cahill then turned provider just before the half hour mark. The former Shelbourne midfielder's free-kick from the right found the head of Shane Robinson, but his weak header was comfortably saved by Murphy.
Billed as a game between two possible title contenders, both sides struggled to get their foot on the ball in the early stages with neither goalkeeper really tested. Then, on the stroke of half time, Drogheda should have taken the lead when Shane Robinson found himself unmarked at the back post, but he screwed his effort wide from just six yards.
Just three minutes into the second half and Drogheda spurned the best chance of the game. The impressive Cahill sent Fitzpatrick clean through on goal but could only hit a weak shot straight into the hands of Murphy from 18 yards.
As the second half wore on both teams became increasingly cautious with goal-scoring opportunities at a premium. The visitors had two penalty claims turned away late on when Dessie Byrne twice went in heavy on Shane Robinson.
Bohs best chance of the half came in the dying minutes when Mansaram narrowly failed to connect with a superb flighted ball into the box from Byrne.
Drogheda themselves almost snatched all three points in the dying seconds, when O'Brien forced a fine save from Murphy with a powerful 25-yard drive.
It would have been no less than Drogheda deserved, and Bohs will undoubtedly be the happier side with the point. Likewise, on the evidence of this game, it is Drogheda who look the more likely to challenge for the title.
Both teams are back in action next Friday night, with Bohemians away to Bray Wanderers and Drogheda taking on UCD at United Park.
Bohemians: Murphy, O. Heary, Burns, McGuinness, Byrne, Kelly, Hunt, Pooley (Rice 85), Harkin (Rossiter 60), Crowe, Fenn (Mansaram 70)
Drogheda Utd: Connor, Lynch, Shelley, Webb, Gartland, S. Byrne, Robinson, Keegan, Fitzpatrick (Grant 70), Cahill, O'Brien
Referee: Ian Stokes (Dublin)
(Thanks to Dotsy from The Bohs.com forum for the picture)