LIMERICK PREVAIL IN 7-GOAL THRILLER

LIMERICK  4 – 3  BOHEMIANS

Seven goals, two penalties, a red card, and more – just an average Saturday evening in Market’s Field as Bohemians crashed to their second disappointing away defeat in a week. Following the loss to Cork City last week, few would have expected the Gypsies to concede another 4 goals against the Airtricity League’s bottom side. But unfortunately for Keith Long’s men, they surrendered 2-1 and 3-2 leads to a passionate Limerick team that had been reduced to ten men just after the break.

Long shuffled the pack after the Cork defeat, and switched to a 4-4-1-1 formation with Jake Kelly playing in behind Izzy Akinade up front. Jason Caffrey made his first league start at left back as Roberto Lopes returned to the centre of midfield. However, as the game kicked off in the spitting rain, no one could have predicted what was to follow, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Limerick had their tails up following their first victory of the season against Sligo last week, and started with intent, with wingers Lee-J Lynch and Shane Treacy causing both Bohs full backs problems. The opening goal came unsurprisingly from a cross, with full-back Ian Turner delivering a perfect whipped ball onto the head of Vinny Faherty, who leapt above Anto Murphy and produced a fine header into the top corner of Dean Delany’s net. The 800-strong home crowd were already dreaming of survival.

Bohs clicked into life, and Jake Kelly should have scored when he found himself all alone in front of goal following a Paddy Kavanagh cross, but the former Dundalk man delayed too long, and allowed Freddy Hall to make the save. The equaliser came with five minutes to go before half time. This time Kelly was the provider, launching an inch-perfect corner onto Izzy Akinade’s head. The big striker made no mistake from six yards, nodding past Hall to send the teams in level.

The Gypsies came flying out of the traps in the second half, and Akinade produced what looked to be the decisive moment in the 51st minute. Reacting to a long throw from Anto Murphy, he bulled past Patrick Kanyuka, and was through on goal before the defender hauled him down. It was an easy decision for referee Sean Grant – penalty for Bohs and a red card for Kanyuka. Jake Kelly stepped up and rifled the penalty home for his first Bohs goal – and bookies would have paid out on an away win.

However, the Russell family had other ideas. Manager Martin sent on his son Sean, and within two minutes, the youngster had equalised with an amazing strike. The substitute unleashed a fearsome snapshot from 25 yards that flashed past Delany before he could even move. The pendulum swung back in Bohs favour on 68 minutes. This time, Lopes put Kelly through, and the new man got his second with a neat finish inside Hall’s near post. 3-2 Bohs, but there was much more drama to come.

Full credit to Limerick, they sensed weakness in the Bohs backline and punished it. The 3-3 equaliser was scored by Lee Lynch, who volleyed home following a corner scramble. Then, incredibly, the home side took the lead with 15 to go. Robbie Creevy, only just on for the injured Anto Murphy, hauled down Dean Clarke just inside the box. Bohs protested that the foul originated outside the area, but referee Grant was happy to award his second spot kick of the night. Shane Treacy’s penalty was un-saveable – pinging in off the inside of the post.

With 15 minutes to save it, Bohs missed a couple of unbelievable chances. Akinade had a shot wonderfully blocked by Robbie Williams, but Dave Mulachy had the best chance of all. With the game entering injury time, Mulcahy found himself 8 yards out with only Hall to beat, but blazed wide and over. It summed up the evening for Bohs, who headed back up the M7 with much to ponder.

Limerick FC: Freddy Hall, Shaun Kelly, Patrick Kanyuka, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy, Shane Duggan, Paul O’Conor, Ian Turner (Seán Russell, 56), Lee-J Lynch, Dean Clarke (Darragh Rainsford, 86), Vinny Faherty. Subs not used: Tommy Holland, Tony Whitehead, Paudie O’Connor, Ross Mann, Cyril Guedjé.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Anto Murphy (Robbie Creevy, 70), Derek Prendergast, Dave Mulcahy, Jason Caffrey, Paddy Kavanagh, Roberto Lopes, Keith Buckley (Kealan Dillon, 88), Karl Moore (Adam Evans, 70), Jake Kelly, Ismahil Akinade. Subs not used: Dean Mahon, Jason Byrne, James O’Brien, Stephen Best.
BohemianFC.com Man of the Match: Jake Kelly

LAST-GASP LONGFORD SPOIL CELEBRATORY MOOD

LONGFORD TOWN  2 – 1 BOHEMIANS

Bohemians suffered consecutive league defeats for the first time this season as Longford Town claimed a smash-and-grab victory at the City Calling Stadium. In a scenario similar to last week, the Gypsies conceded a sloppy winner in the dying minutes of the game. Off the field, it was all smiles with the future of Dalymount secured, but on the field, it wasn’t to be.

Keith Long’s men had numerous chances in both halves, but struggled at the other end, with goalkeeper Dean Delany keeping them in it with a string of top class saves in the first half, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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With the evening sun shining beautifully into the away fans’ eyes, the home side were straight out of the blocks, and grabbed the lead after just three minutes. Robbie Creevy was dispossessed too easily in midfield, and one pass later, David O’Sullivan was in on goal. The striker tucked the ball past Delany into the corner to give Tony Cousins’ side a dream start.

Wearing their changed green strip, it took Bohs a good 20 minutes to string a meaningful move together. Lovely hold up play from Ismahil Akinade and a splayed pass from Robbie Creevy put the returning Paddy Kavanagh away on the right, but his shot / pull-back was just inches away from Adam Evans at the back post.

Evans had another glorious chance minutes later. Akinade was involved again, brushing Mark Rossiter aside before unleashing a shot that was blocked right into Evans’ path, but his effort was blazed into the car park.

At the other end, Dean Delany was extremely busy. First, he tipped a Mark Salmon effort brilliantly over the bar, and then had to claw a Gary Shaw header away. A hoofed Steven Rice clearance somehow turned into a clear run for O’Sullivan, but Delany was out quick and saved well with his legs.

If the Bohs keeper was on top form, it was nothing compared to what Paul Skinner pulled off on 35 minutes. A long Anto Murphy throw in was flicked on by Derek Prendergast, and Robbie Creevy simply buried a header from 4 yards. However, Skinner somehow managed to save the ball and hook it over the bar. As good a point-blank save as you’ll ever see.

Bohs continued to dominate possession in the second half, and you felt an equaliser was coming. Akinade was superb throughout. He flicked a long Anto Murphy ball onto Keith Buckley, and raced onto Buckley’s lovely back-heeled return. However, the Nigerian’s toe-poked shot was just wide of Skinner’s post.

Eventually, the big man was going to make it count, and did so on 67 minutes. The hard surface of the pitch bounced a ball up, and a hesitant Longford defense allowed Akinade to bull his way through on goal. He flicked the ball past Skinner, and Keith Buckley bundled it in for good measure. The ball would more than likely have been cleared by Conor Powell, so Buckley’s intervention was essential.

From that point, it would seem that Bohs would go on and win it, but the equaliser seemed to re-invigorate Longford. A draw would probably have been a fair result, but Bohs switched off in the 88th minute, and were punished. A long ball forward was only flicked on by Dave Mulcahy, and Anto Murphy got his legs entangled, allowing Pat Sullivan to get a shot away. Prendergast managed to block the initial effort, but the ball fell to substitute Ayman Ben Mohamed, who slapped a low shot in off Delany. Ecstasy for the home fans, a forlorn journey back up the N4 for the Gypsies.

Longford Town: Paul Skinner, Pat Sullivan, Mark Rossiter (Willie Tyrell, 26), Conor Powell, Stephen Rice, Mark Salmon (Lorcan Shannon, 74), Gary Shaw, Kevin O’Connor, Jack Doherty (Ayman Ben Mohamed, 56), Rhys Gorman, David O Sullivan. Subs not used: Paul Hunt, James Mulhall, Martin Deady, Kaleem Simon.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Anto Murphy, Dave Mulcahy, Derek Prendergast, Lorcan Fitzgerald (Stephen Best, 67), Paddy Kavanagh, Keith Buckley, Roberto Lopes, Robbie Creevy (Kealan Dillon, 85), Adam Evans (Karl Moore, 58), Ismahil Akinade. Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Jason Byrne, James O’Brien, Jake Hyland.

BohemianFC.com Man of the Match: Ismahil Akinade

ROVERS DESTROYED BY RELENTLESS RED & BLACK WAVE

BOHEMIANS  3 – 1  SHAMROCK ROVERS

A truly amazing 2015 season reached its unbelievable peak for Bohemians as they obliterated fierce rivals Shamrock Rovers with a second half performance that displayed everything great about this team and club. Passion, determination, hard work, and skill combined to overturn a half-time deficit, and condemn the Hoops to their first defeat of the season. With Dundalk’s unbeaten run ended by the Gypsies last week, Keith Long’s men are fast becoming the most feared team in the land.

6 points from three games in a week against full-time professional sides is nothing short of superb, and it was nothing more than Bohs deserved with three goals in the last 15 minutes following sustained second half pressure. In yet another fairytale story, Bohs supersub Dean Kelly left his sister’s wedding reception to play, and walked away with a brace of late goals that won the game in dramatic fashion, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Bohs boss Long was boosted by the return of experienced duo Anto Murphy and Dave Mulcahy, while Jake Hyland was given a rare start in midfield. Rovers began with only one fit striker on the books, and it was youngster Gareth McCaffrey who led the line for the visitors. It was the Hoops who began the game better. Their midfield trio of Stephen McPhail, Pat Cregg and Brandon Miele controlled the early stages.

Rovers looked dangerous down the right hand side, and Simon Madden was brought down by Lorcan Fitzgerald in the 9th minute. McPhail whipped in a pinpoint cross, and Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters ghosted in to head home unmarked from six yards. His freedom in the box was unexplained, much like the ‘Marty’ part of his name, and Rovers took an early lead.

Things didn’t get much better for Bohs in the first half hour. Izzy Akinade was isolated up front, and the Gypsies struggled to keep hold of possession in the midfield third. No such problem for Rovers, who threatened from a set piece again when a Gary McCabe corner was headed wide by David Webster. Bohs only real chance in the first half fell to the returning Anto Murphy, but he scuffed his effort from Lorcan Fitzgerald’s free kick.

It took Bohs about 30 minutes to really get into the game – and credit must go to Keith Buckley. The midfielder was relentless in his hassling and harrying of Rovers, and his winning of challenges audibly lifted the Jodi Stand. He combined with Jake Hyland to set up Bohs first shot, but Hyland dragged it tamely wide. It felt as if half time might be coming at the wrong time for Bohs – that it might halt the momentum. No chance!

What followed was a masterclass in how to turn around a Derby match. Bohs simply decided that they wanted to win this game more than Rovers, who predictably retreated into their shells. The hordes in the Des Kelly Stand grew quieter and quieter as Pat Fenlon’s men were overrun by a rampant, revitalised Bohemian side. Buckley was at the heart of it, and he set up the Gypsies’ first big chance. A beautifully weighted ball took out the Rovers back line, and found Akinade’s chest just inside the box. However, the ball ran just a touch too far ahead of him, and Craig Hyland got their in time.

Rovers’ only second half chance came after Derek Prendergast’s pass was cut out by McPhail, who lifted it over the top for McCaffrey. The youngster’s shot was brilliantly saved by Dean Delany, who stuck out a foot to keep Bohs in the game. Prendergast decided to make up for his mistake in the best way possible.

With 14 minutes to go, it was that man Lorcan Fitzgerald who produced yet another brilliant set piece. His pinpoint outswinging corner found Prendergast at the edge of the six yard box, and the defender rocketed a header in off the crossbar. It was a thumping, aggressive header – and brave too. He could have got an almighty whack, but nothing was stopping him from getting to that ball first. The Jodi Stand erupted, and there was only going to be one winner from there. You could sense it.

After attending his sister’s wedding ceremony this morning, you could forgive Dean Kelly for being distracted. But he was busy and pro-active from the moment he came onto the field. And when his chance came, he took it. Again, Fitzgerald was the instigator. This time, his inswinging free kick from right in front of the Bohs dugout did the trick. It fell right onto Kelly’s head at the back post. The finish wasn’t pretty, it came off his shoulder and looped into the net – but you try tell that to the masses in the Jodi Stand, who were close to combusting with joy.

There was even time for a cherry on the icing on the cake. Rovers, in a rare break from the norm, actually pushed men forward, and the gaps were ruthlessly exploited. Akinade was sent clear down the left flank, and beat the onrushing Craig Hyland to the ball. With the keeper out of the game, the Nigerian striker got himself on his feet, looked up, and delivered a beautiful floated cross to the unmarked Kelly, who tapped in to cap a truly memorable evening.

A fitting way to close the book on a terrific, expectation-busting first half of the season for Keith Long’s Bohemians. If the second half of the season is anywhere near as fantastic as tonight’s second half performance, we’re in for a treat.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Anto Murphy, Dave Mulcahy, Derek Prendergast, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Karl Moore, Keith Buckley (Kealan Dillon, 85), Roberto Lopes, Jake Hyland (Dean Kelly, 72), Adam Evans, Ismahil Akinade. Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Jason Caffrey, Robert Duggan, James O’Brien, Adam Wixted.

Shamrock Rovers: Craig Hyland, Simon Madden, Conor Kenna (Tim Clancy, 46), David Webster, Luke Byrne, Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters, Pat Cregg, Gary McCabe, Stephen McPhail, Brandon Miele (Ryan Brennan, 81), Gareth McCaffrey (Gavin Brennan, 70). Subs not used: Barry Murphy, David O’Connor, Cian Kavanagh, Dylan Kavanagh.

Mr.Green Man of the Match: Keith Buckley

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