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!)

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