28 May 2007

Bohemians 2-0 St Patrick's Athletic

Just when you probably thought it would never happen, I've finally got round to adding up my report from the game against league leaders St Pat's on May 28th. With Bohs having shown clear signs of progression in the early part of the season, this was arguably our biggest test of the campaign so far. Although Bohs had edged up to third position in the table, they were still nine points off the top and the jury was still very much out on whether the team was good enough to mount a serious title challenge.

However, as manager Sean Connor had said before the game, a win against Pat's would go a long way to dispelling many of those doubts. The fact that the game was being shown live on Setanta meant that Bohs also had a chance to show the rest of the country that they were a team to be reckoned with.

The two sides had played out a scoreless draw at Richmond Park earlier in the season, however, on that occasion i felt that Bohs were by far the better side and had deserved to take all three points. This game offered a chance for Bohs to put that right.

With a long trip to Sligo and the two-week summer break to follow, this was to be my last Bohs game for almost three weeks. There was no way I was missing this one!

I managed to get out of work just before six o'clock. I had arranged to meet a few other Bohs fans in a pub called 'The Hut' just round the corner from the ground. I'd been recommended this one by a few supporters on Bohs message board.

The sun was shining and it was a perfect night for football. There still remains alot of debate amongst League of Ireland fans about the virtues of playing football during the summer months, however, walking up to Phibsboro in my short sleeves that night it was hard to imagine a more enjoyable way to spend a Monday evening. Good weather, a few pints and a game of football!

When i got to 'The Hut' just after half six, there already seemed to be quite a few fans in there enjoying a few pre-match pints. The atmosphere inside was quite good and a million miles away from that I'd experienced in the nearby Bohemian bar before the Longford game.

We made our way round to Dalymount, via the bookies, around 15 minutes before kick off. I was confident that Bohs were going to do the business, so I stuck a few quid on us to win 2-1. In a separate bet I also backed Glen Crowe to grab the first goal.

I was quite excited walking round to the ground and I couldn't wait for the game to start. All the ingredients were there for a great game. Not only was it a Dublin derby, but both sides had been on a decent run of form and much of the pre-match media coverage had billed the game as 'a top of the table clash'.

The game didn't seem to have caught the imagination of the wider Dublin public though, with many parts of the stadium sitting empty. Even Pat's didn't seem to have brought that many fans along - certainly not compared to what Bohs had taken to Richmond Park. I have to admit I was a little disappointed as I had been expecting a big crowd. I'm beginning to realise that it doesn't matter what the circumstances are though... it seems that nothing will entice the so-called football fans of Dublin off their fat arses and along to see their local teams play. It will be interesting to see whether the attendances grow should Bohs still be in the hunt for honours at the end of the season.

Despite the many empty seats, the atmosphere once the game got underway was excellent. As is the norm with local derbies, the banter between the two sets of fans was clearly evident. Alot of the songs that get sung at games go a little over my head, but I'm slowly getting to grips with what its all about. The Bohs fans do seem a witty bunch though and I quite often find myself smiling at some of the chants they come out with. Tonight the away fans were bombarded with chants of "junkie scum" and "shooting up".

If the atmosphere at the start had been good, then it got even better just before the half hour mark when Bohs took the lead. The goal was probably undeserved as Pat's had dominated in the early stages. Of course that didn't, in fact, if anything, it probably made it all the sweeter. The goal itself was as good as any I've seen in a long, long time. A sweeping move sent Glen Crowe got in behind the Pat's defence and he squared the ball across the six yard box for the in-rushing Stephen Rice to side-foot home from a matter of yards. Needless to say the Jodi went delirious with a barrage of what looked like a cross between toilet rolls and till rolls flying onto the pitch (see pic left).

The rest of the game was played on a knife-edge with both sides fighting to gain control. Pat's continued to see alot of the ball but the Bohs defence was proving impossible to break down. The nervousness from the pitch was evident too in the stands, with the singing in the Jodi becoming more sporadic and perhaps a little more anxious. Any doubts over the outcome were wiped away with just two minutes left on the clock though.

Despite having to play out the last 15 minutes with 10 men (John Paul Kelly went off injured and Bohs had used all three subs), Bohs secured all three points when Mark Rossiter slotted home from the penalty spot after Darren Mansaram had been hauled down in the box.

The mixture of relief, joy and excitement in the Jodi was immense. No sooner had the ball hit the back of the net than chants of 'we're going to win the league' and 'top of the league, you're having a laugh' were being yelled out. It certainly made a change from the moans and groans I've become used to.

The last few minutes were a bit of a blur, although I have to admit, I was half hoping to Pat's would pull one back for my bet. When the final whistle went, the bet was forgotten though. Three points and a possible title challenge were all that mattered.

For a full match report on the game click here.

For the after-match celebrations click here.