14 October 2007

Bohemians 2-0 Galway Utd - European Push Continues

Walking along to Dalymount on Friday night reminded me a little of going to watch Celtic versus Dundee United in the Scottish Cup Final a few years ago. Just days before Celtic had threw away the League title on the last day courtesy of a 2-1 defeat away to Motherwell*. The following weekend was the Scottish Cup Final. The week leading up to it was a painful one and, even though it was a cup final, I found it really hard to get myself up for the game. The atmosphere amongst the Celtic fans inside Hampden Park that day was very sombre indeed... funeral-esque. The season had just 90 minutes to run and the look on the faces of many Celtic fans that day was that the summer break couldn't come quick enough. In the end Celtic sneaked it one nil, but even when the final whistle blew there was no real feeling of triumph and the celebrations were fairly subdued. Many stayed as long as they felt they had to and slumped out of the ground akin to a child who wakes on Christmas morning to find a woolly jumper, when they'd been dreaming of a Playstation. The wounds from the previous Sunday still had a lot of healing to do.

The journey to the game against Galway United on Friday night brought the memories of that day back to me. Just a few days before Bohs had cruelly lost the League Cup final in extra time. So, just like when i ventured along to Hampden that day, i made my to the Galway game in body, but not really in spirit.

As i made my way along St Peter's Road, the floodlights of Dalymount Park blazing in the misty rain, i was comforted to hear the unmistakable sound of the Bohs fans in the Jodi Stand. As i got closer the words became clearer "Oh Bohs FC, the one and only, Bo-hem-i-ans". Maybe it was those sounds, perhaps it was the dark and wet Autumnal night, but my spirits seemed to pick up a little as i approached the turnstiles. They lifted even more too when the girl on the gate didn't have change and let me go through for 14 euro! (ah come on! They can take the boy out of Scotland...)

The game already started, I quickly grabbed a programme and made my way into the ground. Feeling guilty on the way in i dropped the one euro i had just saved on the entry fee into one of the collection buckets for the owner of a pub in Derry who had had his bar smashed up by so-called Bohs fans before the cup final (a fine gesture by the fans i may add!). Walking along the bottom of he stand i was surprised to look up and see so many people at the game. After the defeat to Derry i had half expected that alot of fans would have stayed away. As i walked up the stand in search of a spare seat, the shouts of the Bohs fans soon turned my attentions to the pitch as Bohs had just been awarded an early penalty. I was in my seat just in time to see Mark Rossiter begin his run-up. The right-back drilled a shot towards the bottom left corner, but the diving Galway goalkeeper somehow got a hand to it and kept the ball out. "I knew i should have stayed at home", i heard a despondent voice behind me say. He wasn't alone.

As the first half progressed Bohs enjoyed the bulk of possession, but struggled to create many clear cut chances. The early penalty miss seemed to have knocked alot of the stuffing out of the home support too as the singing became more and more and sporadic and anxious shouts began to ring out about how the team were playing. Worryingly there seemed to be a few negative comments flying Sean Connor's way too, and chants for players left out of the starting line-up also started to ring out. I always feel a little uneasy when this starts to happen as it seems at times that the Bohs fans jump on the backs of the players and the manager a little too easily. For what it's worth, I'm a big fan of Sean Connor and i firmly believe that he has the club heading in the right direction.

Back on the pitch, Crowe went close with a close range shot and John Paul Kelly made a couple of surging runs, but the teams went in at half time 0-0. The introduction of captain Kevin Hunt at the interval was to turn the game in Bohs favour though. Within just ten minutes of his introduction, the Englishman slipped a sublime pass into the path of midfield partner Chris Turner who turned inside the box and slammed the ball home from around 12 yards. From there on in Bohs were in control and the result was never really in doubt as Galway offered precious little going forward. Any fears that Galway might snatch a late equaliser were blown away with about 10 minutes to go when a Harpal Singh cross found Glen Crowe at the back post and he finished coolly to ensure the three points went to Bohs.

The win may have been fairly comfortable, but at the final whistle there still seemed to be a relatively subdued feeling about the place. When Sean Connor came over to applaud the home fans at the end i could hear a few derogatory shouts from a couple of fans who seemed to be, shall we say, a little dubious about Connor's ability to pick the team. As I've already said though, i think Connor is doing a good job at Bohs and i was happy to applaud both him and the players off the pitch.

The win leaves Bohs in fifth position in the table. However, results elsewhere mean that Bohs still have a very realistic chance of finishing second and are right in the mix for a European place. The fact that Bohs still have a home tie against Cork City in the semi final of the FAI Cup to come means that the last few weeks of the season promise to be pretty exciting. A top three finish, a cup final and a perhaps an FAI Cup victory would represent a very successful season for Bohs, particularly after the shambles that was the Gareth Farrelly era. Unfortunately though, i doubt whether even that would be enough for some of the hard to please Bohs fans.

Next up is Derry City away on Friday night, a game i won't make. My next game will be UCD at home on Monday 22 October.

(***Funnily enough, i watched that game in Doyles bar across the road from Dalymount long before I'd moved over to Dublin and at a time when i barely knew who Bohemians were. To this day i can't bring myself to go back into that pub!)

9 October 2007

Cup Final Blues: Derry 1-0 Bohs (aet)

There are certain decisions that leave you scratching your head in disbelief. The ones made by the FAI about where and when to hold this season's League Cup final is one of those on two counts. The football authorities in Ireland are supposedly trying to push the game forward here and to lift the game out of the doldrums. Why then decide to play a major cup final on a Tuesday night at the ground of one of the finalists, which is hundreds of kilometres away the other team's fans? I find it baffling. Derry City were given a clear advantage and i am in no doubt that this had a huge bearing on the eventual result. As long as decisions such as these are made, the League of Ireland is destined to remain a footnote on the sports pages of Irish newspapers and an afterthought in the minds of Irish people.

I was gutted to miss out on the game. I've just started a new job so getting time off really wasn't an option. The fact that i had been at every in the run up to the final made it even more disappointing. Some may argue that if i was a real Bohs fan i would have done whatever it took to get myself to the final in Derry. Had it been played on a weekend i'm fairly sure i would have been there. Had it been played on a weekend at a neutral venue i'm certain i would have made it. I'm sure there were many more like me too.

As it was i was stuck in Dublin watching the game on Setanta Sports. The coverage on the whole was pretty good, but watching football from the comfort of your sofa is no way to watch any game of football, especially a cup final. Bohs threatened in spells, but on the whole didn't show enough going forward. The most disappointing thing was that Derry weren't actually that good and that Bohs still couldn't pull it off.

In the end it was a wonder goal from Derry's Kevin McHugh that won it - a strike that would have graced any cup final.

Even though we lost, i'm still desperately disappointed that i didn't get to go to my first Bohs cup final. I just hope that Bohs can get through to the final of the FAI Cup and that i can put right.

Next up, Galway Utd at home on Friday evening.

Testing, testing 1,2,3... is this thing still on?!

Well, here we are... finally an update.

I can only apologise for not keeping this thing updated over reason months. To be honest, between trying to get my golf handicap (unsuccessfully, i may add!) and getting myself a new job, i quite simply haven't had the time. But anyway, that's enough of that... how are me and Bohs getting on i hear you say.

Well, it's been a long few months. The last game I reported back on here was the home match versus Waterford United way back at the end of June. Since then there have been ups, there have been downs and pretty much everything else in between. With the team sitting fifth in the league (just three points off third) with five games to go sitting pretty in the final of the League Cup and the semi-final of the FAI Cup, a promising end to the season awaits. I'll not get too carried away just yet though, as there have been more than a few false dawns this season already and every time it looked as though Bohs had 'turned the corner', it all quickly turned sour again.
Bohs ended the month of June with a scoreless draw against Shamrock Rovers at Tolka Park. It was my first experience of an away derby against Rovers, but unfortunately the game was a fairly dull affair. With Bohs packing out the terrace at one end of the ground though, at least the atmosphere was good. The draw was enough to keep Bohs in third spot at the turn of the month - two points ahead of Rovers, but six behind leaders St Patrick's Athletic.

The month of July began with an absolute cracker of a game. Wins against Bray and Shelbourne earlier in the season had taken Bohs through to the quarter finals of the League of Ireland Cup and a meeting with Cork City at Dalymount Park. The game, played on a Tuesday night, was spiced up a little by the return to 'Dalyer' of former Bohs player/manager Gareth Farrelly - the man many seemed to blame for the mess the club was in at the end of last season. Needless to say, he received a barrage of abuse from the Bohs fans. Bohs scored two goals inside the first 20 minutes with Stephen Rice and Dean Pooley finding the net. However, Cork pulled back on level terms through a Sean Kelly pulling strike midway through the first half and a Stephen Rice own goal on the hour mark. The game went to extra time and looked to be heading to penalties before Dessie Byrne, my favourite Bohs player, blasted home a fine strike from the edge of the box with just seconds left on the clock. With Bohs showing such unpredictable League form, a good cup run was proving to be just the tonic. In the weeks that followed Bohs enjoyed somewhat mixed fortunes in the league, with a lacklustre 2-0 home win against Bray Wanderers followed by a 1-0 defeat away to Drogheda United (courtesy of a last minute goal from ex-Bohs striker Tony Grant) and a scoreless draw against Derry City (a game destined to finish 0-0 as I had taken my girlfriend along... regular readers of the blog will know what i mean!). A 1-0 defeat away to UCD (a game i didn't make) ensured that Bohs ended the month with a whimper and pretty much guaranteed that Bohs would play no part in any race for the title.
Friendly games against Wolves and Sunderland ensured July was something of a marathon month for Bohs. I didn't manage to make it along to the Wolves game (due to golf), while i only managed to catch 50 minutes of the Sunderland match (due to my stupidity!). I've been known to rant about the lack of interest shown in the League of Ireland by local people, however, one of the undoubted advantages for me, who is nearly always late, is that you can pay on the gate. For the Sunderland game i thought I'd better buy a ticket in advance as apparently the visit of a mediocre English team is what it takes to get the so-called Irish football fans to games involving their own teams. I was left to rue that decision on the day though, as i got to the ground only to find that i had pocketed the ticketmaster receipt rather than my actual ticket for the game! The Steward looked at me as though i had three heads and i was left scampering back up to the car to go and get my ticket from home. By the time i got back to Dalymount and into my seat 40 minutes were already on the clock. From now on, I'm adopting the Owen Heary approach and not doing friendlies!

August began in miserable fashion with a 3-0 defeat away to bottom-of-the-table Longford Town. I was away on holiday so missed the game, but when i read the score on teletext the following day i don't know whether i was more shocked or embarrassed. It appeared that the wheels had well and truly came off of our season. It just seemed to be one defeat, and one disappointing performance after another. I was beginning to get a few texts from Scotland from friends and family (my Mum and Dad now make a point of looking for the eircom League scores and league table on Sky Sports News) along the lines of "looks like Bohs are struggling"... "i see Bohs lost again"... or "the season's starting to fizzle out". Thankfully i was back in the country for the League Cup semi-final against Shamrock Rovers just three days later though. Despite going down to 10-men early in the first half, Bohs dug in and a second half header from Glen Crowe goal was enough to see us through. My first Bohs cup final beckoned! That win proved to be something of a turning point for Bohs and was followed by victories against Cork City (League) and Malahide Utd (FAI Cup), and a 1-1 draw with league leaders Drogheda Utd. A 3-0 away win against Bray Wanderers closed out what had been a very positive August for Bohs.

If Bohs season had been in danger of coming off the rails in July then my support surely did in September. Another holiday and a desperate late season attempt to get my golf handicap down meant i only made one of the four Bohs games played during the month. nevertheless, through the wonders of TV and the Internet i was kept well up to date with the goings on down Dalymount way. A scoreless draw in Waterford was followed by a first home defeat of the season against Shamrock Rovers. Things got slightly better though when Bohs edged out St Patrick's Athletic 2-1 at Richmond Park to get through to the semi-finals of the FAI Cup, and the grey skies over Phibsboro had all but disappeared when Bohs defeated Sligo Rovers by three goals to nothing on the 28th in front of a returning Bohsman.
And that brings us to October, a month that began so well last Friday night with the 1-0 win against St Patrick's Athletic at Richmond Park. That win leaves Bohs six points away form 2nd spot and just three away from 3rd. With a cup final and a semi-final to also look forward to, the next few weeks promise to be very exciting!
In the meantime the League Cup Final against Derry City awaits on Tuesday night. Come on Bohs, let's have some silverware!!