11 November 2007

End Of 2007 Season Review

So, that's it then... my season as a Bohemians fan is now over. Although the defeat to Derry in the League Cup final and the humbling 2-0 loss against Cork City in the FAI Cup semi-final still linger in the memory, a point at home against Longford Town followed by a fine 0-1 victory away in Cork ensured we finished third in the League and capped what has been a relatively successful season.

It's been a fairly up and down year on the park, but i have to say I've loved every minute of my season as a Boh fans. All in all, I managed to get along to 26 games out of a possible 44. I was disappointed not to make it to at least one of the long distance away trips, but for one reason or another it just didn't happen. Nevertheless, it's definitely something i want to do next season. Who knows, perhaps I'll even make an overseas trip to see us play in the Inter-Toto Cup (call me a pessimist, but something tells me i might have to be quick with that one!)

As the season has gone on i have got to know quite a few other fans and there is now a decent little group of us who troop along to the matches together and coax each other out even when the rain is hitting the window or the sun makes other activities seem more appealing. It looks like I'll be sticking about in Dublin for a good while yet so it looks many more Friday nights will be spent in Dalymount over the next few years.

For my last post I've decided to a brief look back at some of the highlights and low-lights from over the course of the last 12 months. Here goes...

Best Game? It could only really be one... the first home game against Shamrock Rovers. We played crap for 80-odd minutes, but two late goals grabbed all three points. It was freezing cold in the Shed that night, but still it was the best atmosphere in Dalymount all season and i left that night with an idea of just how special a club Bohs are and how great the Bohs v Rovers derby is.

Best Away Trip? The 1-0 victory away to Drogheda in the FAI Cup was good, but I'm going to go for a less obvious one... the pre-season friendly against Kildare County way back in February. There's something pretty special about going to a game on a Saturday afternoon - a rare thing in Irish football - and although this was just a pre-season game it turned into a great day out. It was my first chance to see the 13 or so new players in action and it was also my maiden away voyage as a Bohs fan. I'm looking forward to getting to a few more next season too.

Worst Away Trip? I generally enjoyed them all, but the first away trip to Bray Wanderers sticks in the mind for all the wrong reasons. It was early March and the biting wind that slammed in to the uncovered stand that the Bohs fans were housed in almost froze me stiff. There wasn't much to warm me up either as Bohs turned in one of their worst performances of the whole season and lost the game 1-0. It was a long train-ride home.

Best Opposition Fans? It's often difficult to hear the away fans in Dalymount as they get stuck over on the Connaught End, but the title goes to Cork City on the night of the FAI Cup semi final. The game was live on RTE, yet a good few hundred of them still made the long trip to Dublin and they were absolutely superb the whole night. It was pretty sickening having to listen to them gloat, but credit where credit's due... the best by some distance.

Worst Opposition Support? I'm going to go for St Pat's. I've been along to Richmond Park a few times and stood amongst them and the only word i can think of to describe it is horrible. They are to football supporting what Ronan Keating is to rock'n'roll. Rubbish.

Funniest Moment? My funniest moment is probably also my most embarrassing one. Having met the lads in the pub before the Sunderland game in July we were walking round to Dalymount and as i began to hand out the tickets I realised that instead of bringing my ticket, I'd brought the Ticketmaster receipt. I dashed home to get it and soaking in sweat I sprinted into the Jodi just in time to hear the half time whistle blow! Needless to say that incident still gets brought up after a few beers!

Best Thing About Being A Bohs Fan? Few feelings in life can beat walking home after a game after your team has just won. It's even sweeter here in Dublin when the majority of people that you walk past look at you as though you have two heads and just don't have a clue how satisfying watching your local team can be.

Worst Thing About Being A Bohs Fan? Alot of the Bohs fans get on the player's backs during games far too easily. Negativity around Dalymount seems to be something of an epidemic.

Favourite Player? It's a toss-up between Dessie Byrne and Darren Mansaram, but I'm going to go for Dessie. He's a loose cannon, but he has what that square headed bloke on the X-Factor refers to as the likability factor. That and he used to play for Carlisle United, one of my local sides growing up.

Most Infuriating Player? John Paul Kelly. The type of player who my old man would say 'needs a good kick up the arse'. At times he can mesmerise the opposition and drag the whole crowd to their feet, but unfortunately he just doesn't do it enough. 'Joxer' undoubtedly has the talent to go on and do well at a higher level but it seems to me that he needs to grow up and start delivering on a regular basis.

Favourite Bohs Song? "Whooooa Black Darren"

Plans For Next Season? Same again... get to as many games as i can. Oh, and to get to at least one away trip in either Cork, Galway, Sligo or Derry. I wouldn't mind getting out to see a few more Premier and First Division games too.

Plans For The Blog? I haven't really decided what to do yet. Other commitments (and a lazy streak!) meant that i struggled to keep it updated at times, but the site has had just over 3,000 hits so hopefully at least a few people have enjoyed reading my ramblings. I enjoy writing about Bohs though so maybe I'll keep it going in some capacity.

Anyway, I'll leave it at that. The scarf has been put away for the winter and i'll now hit the the 'Publish' button for the last time. Thanks for reading and I'll see you at the games next season!

Yours in Bohs!


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!!

21 August 2007

25/06/07 - Bohs 1 - 0 Waterford Utd

This game was moved to the Monday night to allow Setanta Sports to show it live. For once I wasn't too disappointed about this either as the combination of a wet and windy night and a heavy cold meant that I didn't make it anywhere near Dalymount Park. As it turned out the game proved to be just as miserable as the weather, however, a Darren Mansaram strike just before half-time ensured that Bohs grabbed all three points.

It was the first time I'd watched Bohs play on television and I have to say I was reasonably impressed by the Setanta coverage. Usually when I have watched highlights of the Eircom League on other channels such as TV3 it has been a case of one camera, no close-ups and limited action replays. Setanta at least seemed to take a far more professional approach with several camera positions making for some decent viewing.

However, as good as the coverage may have been the experience of sitting on the sofa watching the match still paled in comparison with actually being at the game. Still, the main thing was that Bohs had picked up the three points and were still in touch at the top of the table.

17 June 2007

FAI Cup: Drogheda 0-1 Bohemians

Three Friday nights without a game and I was starting to get a few withdrawal symptoms. The break in fixtures couldn't have came at a worse time either. The summer break last year wasn't too bad as the World Cup was in full-flow. This year though it's a different story. Just as a Friday evening has now come to mean football night for me, so too does it now constitute Big Brother night for my other half! Another night of Davina McCall and her merry band of w*****s and I would have been heading for the edge of the balcony.

The game against Drogheda last Friday night therefore came as an absolute godsend! Bohs can quite often be hard to watch, but even a 5-0 defeat would have been more enjoyable than the alternative at home.

For a while during the week leading up to the game it looked fairly certain that I wouldn't be able to get to the game in Drogheda due to the small number of tickets that Bohs had been given. This was apparently due to United Park having its capacity reduced because of safety issues. All week I kept an eye on the official site looking for details of if and when tickets were going on general sale. In the end i got the news i was hoping for on the Bohs message board (not for the first time) on Wednesday night... there were tickets on sale to non-members from Dalymount at 9.30am the next day. So, by a quarter to ten on Thursday, having dragged myself out of bed a little earlier than usual, I made my way to work in high spirits, with a ticket in my back pocket.

Although i was delighted to get one, i felt the whole situation could have been handled a little better by the club. One thing I couldn't understand was why the unofficial message board was used to keep fans updated on the ticket situation rather than the official site. At any other club, the website is always the first port of call, however, the Bohemians one seems to be totally under utilised.

Although i was working until six on the night of the match, getting up to Drogheda in time for kick-off looked to be pretty easy - take the M50 and then the M1 all the way up. A late train home from work to pick up the car though and my plans were scuppered. When I finally set off just minutes before seven o'clock, it was clear the speed limit was going to have to be abused. By the point the road signs were saying I was less than 30km away I'd made up decent time and looked like I'd make it just in time. The next thing you know though the red light pops on and I'm having to make a detour to Balbriggan to get petrol as the other half had drained the tank ( i tell you what, between Big Brother and this she's on her last legs!!).

Despite taking a bit of a shortcut through Julianstown, by the time i got to the "Welcome to Drogheda" signs it was almost eight o'clock. Because i'd taken a different route to that planned I had came into Drogheda a different way and now had no idea where there stadium was (you can tell this trip was well planned out). Thankfully i wasn't the only one who was late though and, while i was sitting bewildered at a set of traffic lights, i spotted a couple of girls in Drogheda shirts walking up the road in front of me. Sure enough, they led me almost straight to the ground. With the game already about 25 minutes old i abandoned the car in a nearby hospital car park and legged it round to the ground. As soon as i was in though, it seemed as though i had missed nothing.
The friendly steward manning the turnstiles told me that it was still scoreless, while a Bohs fan walking out to the toilets expanded a little more... "you've missed nothin'... f*****g brutal".

Regardless, she was still getting it when i got home. Did i mention that she works next to a petrol station?

The stand in which the Bohs fans were located looked fairly packed so i just took up a spot down at the front. The view wasn't the best, but after the mad rush I'd just had, i wasn't about to complain (picture left shows my position). The game itself seemed to be fairly lively. I'd read alot about Drogheda having the biggest and most expensive squad in the league, but Bohs looked as if they were more than a match for them. Darren Mansaram and Owen Heary both went close for us, but the teams went in scoreless at half time.

After the break, there was still very little between the sides. It looked fairly certain that the first goal was going to be crucial. Thankfully, that first goal went to Bohs. Glen Crowe swung in a dipping cross that somehow found its way to Mansaram in the six yard box who managed to prod the ball home from six yards. This brought the away fans alive.

On the journey up i had been thinking that a great atmosphere was likely at this one. The reduced capacity had ensured the game was a sell out and i felt the clamour for tickets amongst the Bohs fans would have put everyone on a high. As the second half progressed this came to fruition too and, despite a little nervousness towards the end, the singing was almost constant until the final whistle (and after!). As is still normal at games, a few of the songs being sung were new to me. One in particular stuck in my head. Something about not wanting to go home and this being the best trip "we've" ever been on.

Having drawn first blood, Bohs seemed content to sit on their lead for the remainder of the game. It was a plan that worked too. Drogheda enjoyed the majority of possession and had the odd half chance, but by the time the whistle went for full-time, nobody could have denied that Bohs were well worth the victory and a place in the last sixteen.

The win was massive for Bohs. Not only did it keep us in the FAI Cup and mean that we are still challenging for all three trophies, but it also showed that we are more than capable of holding our own against the best teams in the league. The remainder of the season promises to be very interesting indeed.

As for me, well, the drive home was alot less eventful than the one up and i was back home extolling the joys of a full tank of petrol by half past ten.

Thankfully the games are coming thick and fast over the next few weeks. Next up for me, is the home game against Waterford United on Monday night (domestic abuse charge pending).

For a full report on the Drogheda game click here.

Sligo Rovers 2 - 1 Bohemians

I was back in Scotland duing the weekend of the game against Sligo Rovers on June 2nd. Finding out the result of a game your not at while in Ireland is hard enough, but trying to get the latest back in Scotland proved to be nearly impossible. In the end I had to wait until the final score was eventually added up on BBC teletext shorlty after ten o'clock. Even then I was only able to find out the score and I had to wait until i got back to Dublin a few days later to find out how the game had panned out. Hopefully that will be the last game I have to miss this season as i'm determined to start getting along to some of the away games further afield.

Defeat for Pat's and just one point for Drogheda the previous night meant that Bohs remained in second spot and six points off the top.
For a report on the game click here.
For highlights click here.

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.

27 May 2007

Bohs move up to third in the table

Just a quick update on how Bohs have fared over the last couple of games. Getting time off on a Friday is proving difficult so unfortunately I had to miss the long away trips to Cork and Galway.

I've used the break in Bohs games to get out and see a few other Eircom League matches. Hopefully over the next few weeks i'll be able to get along to see most of the other teams based in and around Dublin. My experiences from these games will be included in a future post on the fans of opposing teams (thanks to Bohshead on theBohs.com forum for the idea!)

Anyway, back to the point...

Last Friday (May 18th) Bohs travelled south to take on Cork City at Turners Cross. Two early goals put paid to Bohs chances and although Jason McGuinness pulled a goal back in the dying moments, Cork went on to win the game 2-1. The defeat, only Bohs second of the season so far, meant that Cork City nudged Bohs down into fourth place in the table. A full match report can be found here.

The trip to Galway on Friday night proved to be a more fruitful one for Bohs, with an early Glen Crowe strike sealing all three points. The win moved Bohs back up to third in the table, nine points behind leaders St Pat's, but just one behind Drogheda in second place. Highlights and post-match interviews can be seen here. A full match report can be found here.

Bohs now have a chance to cut the gap at the top to just six points as they take on St Pat's at Dalymount Park on Monday night. Win this one and Bohs will be right back in the hunt for the title. Having missed the last two games, I can't wait for this one...

21 May 2007

11/05/07 - Bohemians 5-0 Longford Town

Last week proved to be a pretty good week to be a Bohs fan. Not only did they manage to beat Dublin rivals Shelbourne in the League Cup, but they also brought an end to their recent goal drought by smashing five past a poor Longford Town in the League.

Having finished early at work that day I headed to the pub before the game for a few pre-match pints. This is something I used to do quite often before games back in Scotland and it always helped get you in the mood for the match. Not being too familiar with the pubs around Dalymount I headed with a friend to a drinking hole nearby to the ground. Going in to local pubs can often be a bit dodgy, but with a name like "The Bohemian" I thought we would be on to a winner.

A pre-match pint before a game at Celtic Park normally a packed pub, a sea of green and white and fair bit of singing and shouting. Although the pub was fairly packed it didn't look like there was much chance of getting that in The Bohemian though. The only shouting was directed at the horse racing on the TV in the corner, while the only singing came from a group of old drunks in the far corner. As for a splash of colour, well, unless you count a few sets of black front teeth then The Bohemian drew a blank on that one too!

Even though it is located just 200-odd yards from the entrance to Dalymount, I only spotted one other person in the pub sporting the Bohemian FC colours. If I was hoping for a bit of pre-match banter, it looked like I had chosen the wrong place.

That thought was confirmed when we were leaving the pub just before kick-off. A regular, who had obviously over-heard myself and my mate talking about the game, asked what game we were talking about. When my mate said "the Bohs game at Dalymount tonight", he met with a blank expression. "Ah sure lads, Dalymount has been closed down for years," he drunkenly fired back at us. "Bohs haven't played there for years". we just laughed and headed on up to the game. It seemed that it wasn't just the wider Irish public who couldn't be bothered with the League of Ireland, but also the folks who lived just round the corner.

The game itself was decent. Bohs were by far the better side, however, I felt as though 5-0 had probably flattered them a little. Don't get me wrong, they were well worth the victory, but Longford were as poor as a team as I have seen all season. Still though, I've been a football fan long enough to know that you don't turn your nose up at a five nil victory, so I won't complain too much. Glen Crowe again impressed up-front though and he took all three of his goals very well. John Paul Kelly, who has disappointed so far this season, also delivered his best performance in a long time. Still alot of improving to do, but this was undoubtedly a step in the right direction. (For a full report on the game click here)

With a tough run of games to come against the likes of Cork, Galway and Sligo away and St Pat's at home, the three points were vital. It looked like we had finally found our way to goal too - not least Glen Crowe who's hatrick took his tally for the week to five and his season total to seven (in all competitions). Crowe is fast becoming one of my favourite Bohs players... all I have to do is learn the words to the song the other Bohs fans sing about him. Until then, it's still the name of Dessie Byrne that is destined for the back of my new Bohs home shirt!

After the game my mate took me along to the Gravedigger in Glasnevin for what he promised would be the best pint of Guinness in Dublin. Just a few sups in and I was inclined to agree. Another five pints later he was preaching to the converted!

For highlights of the game and post-match interviews click here.

9 May 2007

08/05/07 - Shelbourne 0-2 Bohemians

Regular readers of the blog will know how much I had been looking forward to the game against Shelbourne. Not only was it the first time I have seen the two sides play against one another, but it was also to be my first visit to Tolka Park - a stadium I have been meaning to get along to quite some time.

When the draw for the third round of the cup was made, I was delighted to see that Bohs had been paired with another of the Dublin sides. With the games being played midweek this ensured that I would definitely be able to make the game. Tolka Park is only a short drive from where I live so I left for the game around the same time I normally would for a match at Dalymount. Although I knew roughly where the stadium was I wasn't too sure exactly how to get there. I had arranged to pick up a friend on the way though and with him being a taxi driver, we were there in no time at all. His local knowledge helped out no end when it came to finding a place to park the car too. He directed me to a side street just off the main Drumcondra Road, which was only a short walk away from the stadium.

Even for an outsider such as myself, Tolka Park is a stadium that I had heard quite alot about. I have recently started reading Daire Whelan's book on the history of Irish football, which talks about how prominent a role Tolka Park has played in football on these shores over the years. I was quite excited about getting in and seeing what it was like for myself. After the previous week's bore draw against UCD, I was also hoping to see a few goals and a convincing Bohemians performance.

From what I had seen of it on television it always appeared to be quite a tidy little ground and one of the more modern stadia in Ireland. In reality though, the stadium is a bit of a blast from the past.

We were directed to an all seater stand on the far side of the pitch, where around a couple of hundred Bohs fans had already gathered. The stand had looked half decent from a distance, however, once we'd got a bit closer it was clear that it had seen better days. The roof of the stand looked like something from a farm rather a football stadium, with the metal work covered in rust and dirt. With dark clouds circling above though, I was just grateful that there was a roof there at all! Apart from one of the end stands, which was closed off for the night, the rest of the stadium seemed a little more modern. It was clear that a bit of money had been spent in recent years, as the stadium was now all seated and a new stand had been built behind one of the goals.

By the time the match started at 8 o'clock a fairly impressive number of Bohs fans had made their way into the ground and the atmosphere was already starting to build. We grabbed a couple of seats down near the front, two of the very few that didn't seem to be covered in either mud or bird shit!

A sparse scattering of Shelbourne fans were spread across the other stands, the vast majority of whom looked like school kids.. They appeared to be up for a good sing-song though so hopefully an entertaining 90 minutes lay ahead both on and off the pitch!

Although I'd never seen Shels play, I had read all about their problems over the past 12 months or so. Despite having won the Premier League title last season, the team had been relegated down to the First Division due to massive financial problems. The troubles off the pitch led to manager Pat Fenlon leaving along with the vast majority of the squad (two of which signed for Bohs - Glen Crowe and Owen Heary). A new management was appointed just days before the new season, meaning that a team had to be assembled very quickly.

This meant that the team that took the field against Bohemians was very young and hugely inexperienced. However, if the Bohs fans had turned up expecting them just to roll over for us, we were in for a bit of a surprise.

Shelbourne started by far the better and, if anything, it was Bohemians who looked to be a little on edge. Throughout the first half Bohs found it hard to keep hold of the ball and some of the passing was abysmal. With each mis-placed pass you could sense the frustrations of the Bohs fans growing. In my short time as a fan I've often stood in disbelief at the abuse given out to their own team by the Bohs faithful. However, on this occasion I felt most of it was probably justified. With the huge gulf in quality between the two sides, there was simply no excuse for some of the mistakes being made.

The highlight of the first half came when the floodlights suddenly cut out. This was met with a sarcastic cheer from the Bohs end. That sarcasm turned to hilarity when, moments later, a voice over the tannoy issued a somewhat desperate plea: "if there is an electrician in the ground, would they please make themselves known!". The Bohs fans responded in kind with chants such as "shit ground, no fans" and "No f****** money".

However, with the Bohs players seemingly incapable of doing even the simple things right on the pitch, it was beginning to look like Shelbourne may yet get the last laugh.

As the game went on though, Bohs slowly started to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and, despite a valiant effort from the young Shelbourne team, the difference in quality eventually shone through, with two late goals from Glen Crowe ensuring Bohs safe passage into the next round. I wondered how this must have felt for the Shels fans as just a few months previously Crowe had scored the goal that them the League - ironically against Bohemians. As if to rub salt into the wounds, former Shels captain, Owen Heary, had provided the assist for the second goal.

The sense of relief among the Bohs was clear and the atmosphere changed completely. The school kids in the Shelbourne end slowly skulked out as the Bohs fans went through their full repertoire of songs! The atmosphere in the old shed was electric and a few flares were set off behind us. Shelbourne may not be the force they once were, but you could still see how much the win meant to the Bohs support.

The performance had been far from convincing, but the late goals ensured that we walked out the ground on a high.

It was on the way out of the ground that we were given our last reminder about the state of Shelbourne. A simple quick trip to the gents turned into a bit of a nightmare with no lightbulb in the Trainspotting-esque toilet. Maybe they should have got the electrician to nip in there while he was fixing the floodlights! I got out alive though, and, as a guy said to me on the way out, I'm just glad it wasn't a number two I needed!

Bohemians will play Cork City at home in the next round.

5 May 2007

Bohemians 0 - 0 UCD

I had a couple of friends over from Scotland at the weekend so I dragged them along to the UCD game on Friday night to give them their first taste of League of Ireland football.

With one a regular at Aberdeen (big in the eighties, apparently) and the other a fan of SPL also-rans Rangers (big, but only in their heads), I was hoping both would be treated to some decent football for a change. Sadly though, it wasn't to be.

Friday night's performance was probably as poor as I have seen from Bohs this season. In fact, on the way out, I was tempted to apologise to the lads for putting them through it. Thankfully though, I think a trip to the club shop at half time and the promise of a few beers afterwards saved me from a hard time.

Over the last few years I've taken quite a few of my friends along to Bohs games when they've came over. Unfortunately though, I think I might be struggling to get any of them to come back as none of them have ever seen any goals. Even when I managed to drag the football hating other half to Dalymount last year to watch the Ireland versus Scotland B International, she was also treated to a scoreless snoozefest. And who says I don't know how to throw people a good time eh!?

For some reason I decided to watch the game from the other side of the Jodi this week. Having spent the last few games in amongst the singing contingent in blocks F and G, I was keen to see what the atmosphere was like further down. The fact that there were only a handful of UCD supporters at the game meant it was fairly easy for us to find three seats together. The section we were in seemed to be where the lads with dodgy haircuts chose to sit. Then, when a suited and booted Dessie Byrne wandered up and joined them just after kick-off, I realised that this was in fact the rest of the Bohs squad!

The atmosphere down there was a little flat, although the samba sounds coming from a couple of rows down did manage to raise spirits a little. The lads wanted to hear a few of the Bohemians songs and chants in the second half so we moved up that end at half time. The singing from the Jodi is normally something I look forward to most when going to Dalymount, however, the atmosphere on Friday night was fairly disappointing. Perhaps understandable when you consider the standard of football being offered up by both teams.

Normally at this point I would do a quick run over the main highlights of the game, however, on this occasion I can't really think of much worth reporting. Both sides huffed and puffed a lot, but the game was spoiled by countless mis-placed passes and a severe lack of quality in the middle of the park.
On the upside, the draw stretched Bohs unbeaten run in all competitions to eight games. The worrying thing, however, is that this was the team's third draw on the spin. Of even more concern perhaps, is that Bohs have scored just five goals in nine league games. With tricky away ties against Cork, Galway and Sligo all to come in the next month or so, Bohs could really come to rue not winning these games. A win against Longford at Dalymount on Friday is undoubtedly a must not only if Bohs are to have any hope of challenging for the title this season, but also if Sean Connor is to keep many of the fans on his side.

As for my two friends from Scotland, well, despite the poor game and lack of atmosphere, they both said they still enjoyed their trip to Dalymount (at least that's what they said to my face anyway!). I guess I'll only find out what they really thought when I next invite them back.

Next up for me is the League Cup meeting with Shelbourne on Tuesday night.

30 April 2007

Was there a game on Friday night?

Work commitments prevented me from making the trip North for the 0-0 draw against Derry City on Friday night, so unfortunately I won't be able to bring you my usual report this week. Rather than take a week off though, I'd like to use this opportunity to talk about something that has long troubled me about the game here in Ireland - coverage of the League by the media.

There's an old saying that "the newspaper never refuses ink". That is, it seems, unless it involves the League of Ireland. To put it bluntly, coverage of Irish soccer - particularly by the print media - is nothing short of abysmal.

Quite often I'll flick through the sports sections of Ireland's main newspapers on a Saturday morning and wonder whether League games had actually even taken place the previous night.
Even when the games are covered, the quality is often dubious and appears to have been included in the sports section as something of a token gesture. More often than not, papers seem to choose not to send a reporter to games and simply offer up a re-hash of someone else's report. Not surprisingly therefore, mistakes are also common. One of the more ridiculous I have spotted came after Bohs knocked Bray Wanderers out the League Cup last month. The Irish Daily Mail claimed the following day that the win had "moved Bohs up to third in the table". Perhaps with mistakes this big its just as well that they tuck their coverage so deep into the paper!

I was pretty disappointed to miss the game against Derry (only the second game I have missed all season) and I spent the night desperately checking the internet and teletext to find out what was happening at the Brandywell. Through these two sources I was able to find out that the game had finished scoreless, however, I was eager to find out how the game had gone and how Bohs had played on the night. Even the message boards, which are normally full of opinion after the game, were of no real use to me as most of the regular posters were at the game. The fact that they would not be back in Dublin until the early hours meant that I would have to wait until the next morning to read about the game in the sports pages.

On Saturday, virtually all of the major papers carried the score, however, (as usual) very few offered any real insight into how the game had actually panned out. As they so often do, the likes of the Daily Star and the Daily Mail attempted to cram the entire night's action from across the League into two pages, while the Irish Independent couldn't even muster up more than 50 words on Derry versus Bohs.

The newspapers themselves would no doubt tell me that League of Ireland coverage just wouldn't sell newspapers and, working in the journalism game myself, that argument is something I can undoubtedly appreciate. However, what I do find extremely disappointing is to see just how far down the news agenda the League of Ireland sits. Even more so, when you consider the huge number of column inches given over to the Irish national team and the exploits of Irish players over in Scotland and England.

The only paper to offer any decent coverage of the game was the Irish Mirror. (Not surprising perhaps, seeing as it is one of the league's main sponsors.) Somewhat predictably though, the report was stuck six pages in from the back, behind numerous musings on the goings-on in the English Premiership.

Shunting the League well through the paper is something that the Irish papers seem to be good a though and most days it is a hunt to find even the smallest snippets of Eircom League news.
The lack of media interest in the Irish game is almost as baffling as the lack of support it receives from its own people. Then again, I suppose it all goes hand in hand. Perhaps its just something I'll have to get used to as a League of Ireland fan.

A few weeks back I bumped into a sports reporter with one of the bigger newspapers here so I decided to put the question to him… "why does the local league get so little coverage?". The answer, he said, came down to two things: lack of demand from readers and the poor standard of the League.

As I said earlier, the first point I can accept. As for the second, well, I'll leave you with my reply to said reporter.

At least the quality of football on offer on a Friday night is a damn sight better than the standard of coverage it receives in your paper on a Saturday morning.

Next up is UCD at home on Friday night. Come on Bohs!

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.