3 April 2007

30/03/07 - Bohs grab first League win in Waterford

Work commitments meant I was unable to make it down to Waterford on Friday night. I was obviously disappointed to miss my first game of the season, however, i was delighted to find out via teletext that they had picked up the three points. From what i've read and heard from those who who were at the game, I didn't miss much of a game anyway. Indeed, most reports have likened the performance to the one in Bray. Two other bits of disappointing news from the game were that Bohs captain Kevin Hunt was sent off for two yellow cards and will now miss the Shamrock Rovers game on Tuesday night, while reports on both the Bohs.com message board and on foot.ie claim that the "schooligans" were again up to no good in Waterford.

For highlights of the game and post-match interviews head over to... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w2ExO5AQeB8

Meanwhile, for a full report on the game head over to... http://www.irishfootballonline.com/clubs.php?club=Bohemians&newsid=6218

17/03/07 - Reality check as Bohs go down in Bray

One of the best things about following your team is undoubtedly going to away matches. Over the years Celtic Park became something of a bore. During my last few years in Scotland I tended to favour attending away games rather than going to Celtic Park. Don't get me wrong, the big games were great and the atmosphere at Champions League and Old Firm games in Celtic Park is hard to beat. However, give me singing my heart out in the away end at Easter Road or Tannadice any day over sitting with 60,000 other fans who turn up late and expect to be four up at half time so they can be back in their cars and on the way home before the game is even over.

Before this season i had never been to an away Bohemians game. My trip to Kildare for a pre-season friendly had whetted my appetite and i was looking forward to the Bray game for days beforehand.

Having finished work at six, i took the Dart down to Bray and was happy to find that the stadium (The Carlisle Grounds) was just round the corner from the train station. I followed a few other Bohs fans up to the ground and was able to buy my ticket from a portakabin beside the main gate. Kick-off was only about 10 minutes away so i decided to head in and get a good spot. Once through the turnstiles I picked up a programme and made my way in for the start of the game.

The stadium itself was something of a blast from the past. On the far side of the pitch was a fairly new, but temporary looking stand. If i'm being honest it looked like somehting you'd see at a village fair or farm show (see the pic left). This seemed to be where the Bray fans were located so i headed to my right where a fairly large group of Bohs fans had congregated in an old uncovered concrete stand. Behind the goal to my left goal was a grass bank which seemed to have a mix of home and away fans, while the area behind the other goal was simply wasteland.

During the game I got chatting to a few other fans and i was able to ask them a few questions about the history of Bohs and the upcoming local derby with Shamrock Rovers. They were also telling me about the growing number of young 'hooligans' who had recently attached themselves to the club and who were in Bray looking to cause a bit of trouble. In all my years going to games back home this is something I had never really came across and I was somewhat unsettled and disappointed by what they were telling me. Anyone i spoke to in Bray was very friendly and helpful and the club seemed to have a real family feel to it. It seemed a shame that these kids, who it seemed had very little interest in the actual game, were intent on ruining the night for everyone. But more on that later...

By the time the game kicked off I was already feeling the cold. Someone had warned me on the Bohs message board to expect a cold night down in Bray. He wasn't wrong either and the biting wind coming off the Irish sea was certainly being felt. Hopefully a few goals from the men in red and black would warm me up though.

I only had to wait half an hour for the first goal. Unfortunately though, it was for Bray Wanderers. Poor defending from Bohs allowed striker Paul Dunphy clean in on goal and he finished well from a tight angle. (It wasn't until i read my programme at later that i discovered Dunphy had been released by Sean Connor during the close-season.)
At half-time i took a trip down to the club shop which was located in a small portakabin nears the entrance to the ground. The shop didn't have too much in it but I enjoyed having a flick through some of the old programmes on sale. I also had a chat with the guy who runs the shop and he told me that the Carlisle Grounds were used in the filming of the Bloody Sunday scene in the movie Micheal Collins. The things you learn...

Anyway, history lesson over, I headed back out to have a browse of the match programme and waited for the players to come back out.
If the first half was bad, things only got worse in the second period. Bohs continued to dominate possession, however, a combination of poor passing and swirling winds prevented them from creating anything of note. Indeed, Bohs looked like the could have played all night and still not scored. Although still far too early in the season to make an assessment of the team Connor has assembled, this performance didn't seem too far removed from those witnessed under Gareth Farrelly.

I made my way out of the ground shortly after the final whistle, and i have to admit i was more than a little wary about what the lads had told me earlier about the "schooligans" as they called them. Sure enough when i got out into the street I could see tens of young kids trying to cause trouble with a group of away fans. I simply put my head down and headed for my train back to Dublin.

All-in-all a hugely disappointing night. By the time I got back home just after midnight, any optimism i had of Bohs mounting a challenge in the league this season had all but evaporated.

To make things worse, there was now a two-week break until the next game. A reality check indeed.

09/03/07 - No goals as Bohs get 2007 campaign underway

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

Dalymount Park

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)

03/02/07 - Banana Bohs win Kildare warm-up

My first chance to see Sean Connor's new-look Bohemians came on Saturday, 17th February. I'd read on the official site that they were playing a friendly against first division side Kildare County at Station Road in Newbridge (around an hour or so south west of Dublin).

As the name of the ground suggests, the stadium is located beside the town's railway station which has regular trains to and from Dublin. However, I decided to take the car down so that I could get back home quicker after the final whistle. I got there about 15 minutes before kick-off and was able to park inside the gates at the side of the pitch. Station Road is a fairly small stadium but I was still quite impressed. There wasn't much to it, but what was there was fairly modern and well looked after. I walked round and found a seat in the main stand amongst the other Bohs fans who had made their way down from Dublin. I'd say around 200-250 had made the trip, probably eager, like me, to see how the team was looking after a winter of much upheaval. When the teams ran out it was apparent that Sean Connor had not just made radical changed to the playing staff though, as Bohs had ditched their famous black and red shirts in favour of an incredibly bright illuminous yellow!

Several of the new signings were on show, including striker Darren Mansaram (signed from Sligo Rovers), goalkeeper Brian Murphy (signed from Waterford) and winger Chris Kingsberry (signed from Linfield). Also up front for Bohs was Glen Crowe who had moved back to the club from Shelbourne during the close season. From what I had read and heard from other Bohs fans, Crow was something of a legend in his first spell with Bohs and had scored goals for fun. Needless to say then, I was keen to see what he was like.

Bohs started the game well and wingers Chris Kingsberry and John Paul Kelly (Joxer) looked particularly lively down the flanks. I didn't have to wait long to witness my first Glen Crowe goal as he turned in a John Paul Kelly cross to put Bohs into a deserved lead. Apart from his goal though Crowe was far from impressive. He was more than able to hold the ball up for others, but his movement off the ball was virtually non-existent and he didn't look like he'd been pulling himself away from the dinner table too often over the winter months!

Despite creating several more chances in the remainder of the half, Bohs were unable to add to Crowe's opener and the teams went in at the break at 0-1. This gave me a chance to sample the Kildare County hospitality underneath the main stand. E2 euro for a small cup of soup seemed a little steep (especially to a Scotsman!) but it was enough to keep the hands warm for the start of the second half.

As is so often the case with friendlies, the second period brought a multitude of changes to either side. This allowed me to see a few more of our new signings in action though, and former Leeds United winger Harpal Singh looked particularly impressive on the left side. As the half wore on Kildare came more and more into the game and they really should have scored at least once. However, poor finishing and perhaps a lack of belief stopped them from capitalising on some lax Bohs defending. They were made to pay in the dying minutes of the game too when Singh's flighted ball into the box came off the head of a Kildare defender and into the net.

The scoreline flattered Bohs a little and Kildare would no doubt have felt aggrieved that they couldn't have snatched at least a draw.

The drive back allowed me time to reflect on what I'd saw, and while Bohs looked far from the finished article, they had shown enough to suggest that we were in for a more successful season that last year.

I was able to catch the second goal on my camera, which you can see here...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKfTjaJM4zM

Meanwhile, more extensive highlights can be seen here...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ERmCsWeTis