BOHS DEFENCE IS BEST IN SHOW

SHAMROCK ROVERS  0 – 0  BOHEMIANS

Debutant Stephen Best and goalkeeper Dean Delany produced a stellar performance as Bohemians kept out bitter rivals Shamrock Rovers following a drab Dublin derby in Tallaght on Friday night. The raucous crowd kept the passion going, but there was little in the way of quality attacking from either side in front of close to 4,000 fans.

Bohs boss Keith Long will undoubtedly be the happier manager as his charges achieved a fourth clean sheet in five games, and kept a Rovers side with big-name internationals at bay for most of the contest. It’s now almost three years since the Gypsies lost a league game at the home of the Hoops, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Long made just one enforced change from Tuesday night’s frustrating encounter with Dundalk. 18 year-old Best came in for the suspended Anto Murphy, and put in a performance that showed an amazing level of maturity and composure from such a young man. Although Rovers manager Pat Fenlon predictably started with just one striker, Best and Derek Prendergast kept in-form Mikey Drennan very quiet all night.

As is customary with these derby matches, the game was played at a helter-skelter pace. Bohs had the better of the possession in the first half, but could create little in the way of chances. There seemed to be a slight panic in the play from both sides, with a ‘nothing silly’ option being taken 90 per cent of the time. This was an understandable position for Bohs, but Fenlon’s Hoops were particularly poor. Keith Fahey and Stephen McPhail may have 28 international caps between them, but they were outfought and out-battled by Roberto Lopes and Robbie Creevy in midfield. Lopes was particularly good breaking up Rovers play, and was ridiculously booked for a pinpoint tackle on Sean O’Connor.

Unfortunately, Bohs’ only half-chance came just before the break. Derek Pender’s cross bounced off Adam Evans and fell kindly for Dean Kelly, but the striker’s volley was well blocked by David Webster. At the other end, Rovers’ only effort on target in the first half came from a late Conor Kenna header, but it was comfortable for Delany.

Rovers were clearly given an earful from Fenlon at the break, as they came out much more composed in the second period. The Bohs backline held firm, with Best outstanding. The youngster was commanding in the air, controlled in possession, and positioned himself like an old pro.

The game was trundling toward a chance-less disappointment, but a flurry of late action brought the best out of Delany, and further irked the naturally belligerent Rovers faithful. The Hoops improved greatly with the introduction of Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters and the considerable bulk of Danny North, and with twelve minutes to go, Waters crossed for Ryan Brennan, whose header was brilliantly clawed away by Delany.

Then, in the 81st minute, an almighty scramble in the Bohs box followed a corner. Delany saved low to his left from North, and the defence somehow got the ball clear when Rovers looked certain to score rebounds on two occasions. Their final chance came in injury time, when Waters’ back post cross found Drennan, but his header looped agonizingly onto the top of the bar, and out for a goal kick. The Bohs manager’s clenched-fist celebrations after the game said it all – this was a hard won point at a ground where most will be beaten this season.

Shamrock Rovers:  Craig Hyland, Simon Madden, Dave Webster, Conor Kenna, David O’Connor, Sean O’Connor (Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters, 70), Pat Cregg, Stephen McPhail (Ryan Brennan, 60), Keith Fahey, Gary McCabe (Danny North, 84), Michael Drennan. Subs not used: Barry Murphy, Maxime Blanchard, Gavin Brennan, Gareth McCaffrey.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Derek Prendergast, Stephen Best, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Paddy Kavanagh, Roberto Lopes, Robbie Creevy, Adam Evans (Karl Moore, 75), Keith Buckley (Kealan Dillon, 61) Dean Kelly (Jason Byrne, 79). Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Adam Wixted, Marc Griffin, Dylan Hayes.

BohemianFC.com Man of the Match: Stephen Best

CHAMPIONS CURTAIL GYPSIES’ FLAWLESS START

BOHEMIANS  0 – 3  DUNDALK

Keith Long’s Bohemians were given a rude midweek awakening at Dalymount Park on Tuesday, as Champions Dundalk flitted back up the M1 with all three points following a particularly ruthless performance. Goals from David McMillan, Jake Kelly, and Darren Meenan put Dundalk top of the table, but the game was far closer than what it looks like with a glance at the result.

Despite the misleading scoreline, the home side put in a spirited, determined performance, and could easily have been ahead by the time Anto Murphy was sent off early in the second half. Even after Murphy’s harsh dismissal for two yellow cards, the Gypsies really took the game to the Lilywhites, and were unlucky not to be on level terms by the time the visitors pulled away with two late, ill-deserved goals, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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After three games with the same starting eleven, boss Long made just one change to the starting line-up for the visit of Stephen Kenny’s men. Robbie Creevy replaced Kealan Dillon in central midfield, as Bohs embarked on their second of three games in a six-day period. Perhaps surprisingly, Bohs actually dominated possession in the opening quarter, but struggled to create chances from open play. The ball was being presented back to Dundalk at regular intervals, which is always dangerous with their counter-attacking potential.

The first big incident of note was a penalty shout in the 11th minute. Adam Evans’ cross bounced up off Brian Gartland’s thigh onto his left arm. Gartland’s arm was away from his body, and the ball clearly struck it. However, referee Derek Tomney was in no mood to point to the spot, and this was the first of many decisions from the man in black that irked the Bohs fans and bench alike.

Bohs’ best opportunities in the first half came from set pieces. Lorcan Fitzgerald’s deliveries were absolutely perfect on more than one occasion, and Dundalk had a huge amount of luck in keeping a clean sheet. First, Anto Murphy rattled the bar from an inswinging corner. The ball looped into the air, and was almost turned in acrobatically by Derek Prendergast, but his effort trundled wide. Fitzgerald was again the provider of Bohs’ next best chance. This time, his wickedly whipped free kick took a slight deflection off a Dundalk head before evading Prendergast and Dean Kelly by inches. A touch from either would have opened the scoring.

With clean sheets in all 5 competitive games so far, it was going to take either a moment of brilliance or a scruffy, unlucky goal to breach the Bohs defence. Sadly, it was the latter. After a corner was cleared, Daryl Horgan played head tennis with the Bohs defence, and his second looped header found David McMillan at the back post. McMillan headed it tamely toward goal, but the ball took two deflections and dribbled over the line. Dundalk headed for half time with a fortunate 1-0 lead.

The Champions were lacklustre, and probably couldn’t believe their luck when referee Tomney intervened to spoil what was turning into an intriguing contest. Anto Murphy had been deservedly booked in the first half for a clumsy lunge at Darren Meenan, but his second yellow was as soft as they come. On the edge of the Bohs box, Murphy’s sliding challenge on John Mountney was executed perfectly. He took ball first, then man. It was a strong challenge, but Mountney’s theatrical fall and scream may well have been the deciding factor. His initial writhing stopped when it became clear that Murphy was about to get a second yellow, but the damage was done.

Rather than capitulate being a man and a goal down, Bohs actually increased their pressing and pressure after Murphy’s dismissal. It was a stirring second half performance, with full-blooded commitment from back to front. Long sent on Marc Griffin and Jason Byrne to try and salvage a point, and they almost fashioned an equaliser with 15 minutes left. The tireless Derek Pender whipped in a delightful cross that fell onto Griffin’s toe 8 yards out, but the former Dundalk man couldn’t generate any power, and Gary Rogers was able to paw it clear.

With Bohs committing men forward, a counter-attack sucker punch was always possible, and Dundalk ruthlessly closed out the game in the last few minutes. First, in the 83rd minute, the excellent Horgan sped down the right, and put Richie Towell through. Towell unselfishly squared to substitute Jake Kelly, who side-footed in the second. Then, with 4 minutes remaining, Darren Meenan grabbed the third with a low shot that had too much power for Dean Delany.

0-3 is a scoreline that greatly flatters Dundalk, but the reaction of the Bohs fans at the end of the game said it all. The team were roundly applauded off the field, with a faint chant of ‘Bring on the Rovers’ in their ears. There is no better game to bounce back from a defeat than a trip to Tallaght. Friday night is already close.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Derek Prendergast, Anto Murphy, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Paddy Kavanagh (Kealan Dillon), Roberto Lopes, Robbie Creevy, Adam Evans, Keith Buckley (Marc Griffin) Dean Kelly (Jason Byrne). Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Karl Moore, Jake Hyland, Dylan Hayes.

Dundalk: Gary Rodgers, Sean Gannon, Brian Gartland, Andy Boyle, Dane Massey, Chris Shields, John Mountney (Darren Meenan, 63), Richie Towell, Ronan Finn (Kurtis Byrne, 76), Daryl Horgan, David McMillan (Jake Kelly, 80). Subs not used: Gabriel Sava, Ciaran O’Connor, Shane Grimes, Paddy Barrett.

Mr. Green Bohemian Man of the Match: Lorcan Fitzgerald

MURPHY BRACE DEFEATS PRESIDENT’S MEN

BOHEMIANS  2 – 0  GALWAY UNITED

Eight goals scored. None conceded. Progression in 2 cup competitions. 6 points from 6 in the league. What’s not to like about Bohs’ 125th year of existence so far? Keith Long’s side continued their dominant start to the 2015 season with a comfortable if a little scrappy victory over newly-promoted Galway United in Dalymount Park on Friday night.

President of Ireland and President of Galway United Micheal D. Higgins was in attendance, and would have made the short trip back to the Park disappointed with the Tribesmen’s performance. Tommy Dunne’s team rarely threatened an impressive Bohemian back line, who had defender Anto Murphy to thank for all three points. A rare brace from the 32 year old kept the Gypsies on top of the fledgling Airtricity League table, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Understandably, Bohs boss Long kept faith with the same 11 that dismantled Limerick in Jackman Park last weekend. The somewhat spoilt Bohs fans didn’t get a goal in the first 90 seconds this time around – they had to wait a comparative age before the opener arrived, this time on 5 minutes! Just like in Limerick, the goal came from a set piece. Having drifted out to the right, Dean Kelly was brought down just outside the Galway penalty area. Lorcan Fitzgerald’s in-swinging left-footed cross found Anto Murphy’s head, and the ball flew in over Galway keeper Conor Gleeson.

Bohs almost doubled their advantage on 10 minutes when Fitzgerald sent Adam Evans down the left. His sweeping cross beat the Galway defence, but Dean Kelly could only direct his diving header over the crossbar. All Bohs’ opening half chances came from headers, and Derek Prendergast had the final opportunity before the break, but his downward header was straight at Gleeson, and Galway cleared after the ensuing scramble.

Bohs’ performance was definitely below the levels of last week in Limerick, and they struggled to get a coherent passing game going all night. Kealan Dillon was very impressive in the South-west, but couldn’t get on the ball at all in Dalymount and was replaced by Robbie Creevy on the hour mark. Dean Kelly did an immense amount of running, but was beginning to tire when he was replaced by Marc Griffin. Griffin absolutely re-ignited Bohs’ game in the final quarter, and could easily have grabbed a goal or two himself to add to his midweek brace against Athlone Town.

First, he was set clean through by a brilliant Derek Pender pass. He never really got the ball out of his feet, and the eventual shot at Gleeson was weak and low. Keith Buckley cut inside and had a dip just a minute later. His shot somehow squirmed out of Gleeson’s hands, but Griffin’s rebound was well blocked down.

Substitute Griffin did turn provider for the clinching goal in the 83rd minute. Again, it was a set piece, and again, Anto Murphy pounced. Griffin’s outswinging corner floated all the way to the penalty spot without challenge, and Murphy was able to slide-volley it in from 12 yards. Galway seemed to spring into action for the final minutes. Gary Shanahan should have beaten Dean Delany with a lob, but the Bohs keeper got his fingertips to the ball. Then, in injury time, Shanahan headed wastefully wide from a Jake Keegan corner.

Bohs travel to the seaside next week, with Bray Wanderers next in line to challenge the Gypsies 100% record in the league. After that, Champions Dundalk come to Dalymount for a mouth-watering mid-week fixture. It’s still good to be back!

Bohemian FC: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Derek Prendergast, Anto Murphy, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Paddy Kavanagh, Roberto Lopes, Kealan Dillon (Robbie Creevy, 59), Adam Evans (Karl Moore, 90) Dean Kelly (Marc Griffin, 74). Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Jason Byrne, Jake Hyland, Dylan Hayes.

Galway United FC: Conor Gleeson, Colm Horgan, Samuel Oji (Padraic Cunningham, 74), Stephen Walsh, Marc Ludden, Gary Shanahan, Paul Sinnott, Alex Byrne (Andy O’Connell, 90), Jason Molloy, Enda Curran (Jake Keegan, 69), Ryan Connolly. Subs not used: Conor Winn, Cormac Rafferty, Aaron McDonagh, Conor Barry.

BohemianFC.com Man of the Match: Anto Murphy

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