22 April 2007

Bohemians 1-1 Galway Utd

It was about this stage last season that my interest in Bohs began to wane. Much like this season, I had set out at the start of the campaign with the aim of getting to as many games as I could. It didn't quite work out though and between April and the end of the season I only made it along to Dalymount about three or four times.

The type of football being played under Gareth Farrelly was enough to make even the most die hard Bohs fan consider whether to keep going to games, so it is perhaps no surprise that a newcomer such as myself chose to stay away.

What a difference a year makes though. These days, Friday night's really can't come round quick enough. The first few weeks of April had been a good time to be a Bohs fan. On the pitch it had began to look like the players in red and black actually knew what they were supposed to be doing - something I'd seen very little evidence of during the Farrelly era - while off it, the new management were also starting to show signs that they were capable of turning the club's fortune around. On the terraces, meanwhile, there also appeared to be a bit of confidence and excitement creeping in.

Bohemians went into the game against Galway last Friday on a good run of form. Three league wins in a row, followed by a decent draw away to league leaders St Pat's, had moved Bohs within five points of the top.

Week-by-week the performances had also been gradually improving, culminating in the hugely impressive showing against St Pat's.

The feeling I had walking in to the ground for the game against Galway United last week was therefore something pretty new to me as a Bohs fan. For probably the first ever time, I arrived at Dalymount not just hoping for a win, but expecting a win.

Had this been last season I would probably have chose to spend the warm sunny evening on the golf course or, even more likely, in a beer garden somewhere. Not these days though. Friday night means Eircom League of Ireland. Friday night means Bohemians. Regular readers of the blog will perhaps be surprised at how quickly I've become attached to Bohs. In fact, if I'm being totally honest, it has surprised even me. A win puts me on cloud nine, a loss means a kick for the dog and a long weekend for the missus.

Having enjoyed the atmosphere in the Jodi Stand during the last home League game, I decided to head back there on Friday night. I headed down to the ground a little earlier this week so I was able to get a better seat. Sections F & G seem to be where all the noise comes from so I grabbed a seat in the middle of those.

One of the most notable things when you walk into Dalymount is the number of flags that are put up around the ground. Dalymount, like many of the old grounds in the lower leagues in Scotland, has one stand which is closed off. Rather than leave this as an empty grey reminder of the days when the Irish public actually took an interest in their own teams the club allow fans to hang their banners and flags on the rusted crush barriers. Not only does this add a splash of colour to the ground, but, in a way, it also adds to the atmosphere. Before the game on Friday a group of young fans also stood on the touchline waving huge black and red flags (see pic above). For a moment it felt as though I was in the San Siro, however, the smell of greasy chips from the burger van and the shocking start made by Bohs soon brought me back to reality.

Bohs saw alot of the ball in the opening stages but were unable to create any real clear cut chances. Long shots from John Paul Kelly and Chris Kingsberry were about as much as they could muster. Just as I had turned up simply expecting a victory, it seemed as though the players had too. However, they were made to pay for their sluggish start just before the half hour mark when Galway won a soft free-kick on the edge of the Bohs 18-yard box. It was their first sight of the Bohs goal, but they certainly made it count, with Alan Murphy drilling the ball under the wall and into the net. My initial hope was that this would serve as a wake up call to Bohs, however, the away side looked more like adding a second than Bohs did of equalising.

After the break things got little better and Bohs were looking more like the team from last season than the one that had outmatched the league leaders the previous week. Simple passes were going astray and there seemed to be a real lack of urgency about Bohs' play. Just as it seemed that the game was slipping away though, Bohs grabbed an equaliser. A cross came in from the left and Owen Heary somehow managed to loop the ball home. Relief more than anything seemed to be the general feeling of the fans around me.

Bohs huffed and puffed in the remaining minutes and had a strong claim for a penalty waved away, however, the game was to end even. Just as I had done last week, I spent the journey home trying to decide whether it had been a case of two points dropped or one gained.

After the game I read someone describe Bohs season so far as Jekyll and Hyde. After Friday night's performance I would be inclined to agree with that assessment. If Bohs are to challenge for honours this season then these are undoubtedly the kind of games that we should be winning. That said though, had this been Gareth Farrelly's side of last season I'm all but convinced that Bohs would have lost this game.

The draw means that Bohs are now unbeaten in the league in five games, however, it also puts a little more pressure on the team to get all three away to Derry City on Friday night.

To see the goals and hear the post-match thoughts of Owen Heary and Sean Connor, click here.