A cheer unlike anything heard at Dalymount Park this season greeted the final whistle as a battered and bruised Bohemians clawed their way off the bottom of the Airtricity Premier Division table with a barnstorming Derby victory. Dave Mulcahy’s early strike lifted the Gypsies to the lofty heights of 10th position and condemned a sorry-looking Shamrock Rovers to a third straight league defeat, writes KEVIN FAGAN.


Manager Owen Heary took a big gamble by selecting life-long Bohs fan Daniel Byrne in the centre of midfield for his first start in the red and black shirt he dreamed of wearingas a boy. It was a gamble that dutifully paid off as Byrne and Mulcahy produced a tough-tackling, Hoop-busting performance to rival some of the great Hunt-Caffrey showings of the noughties. The Bohs backline held out admirably against a green and white tide in the second half, and Ronan Finn’s heart-stopping late penalty miss may well be one of those moments that shapes the final table come November.

Often these games can be extraordinarily cagey for the first 20 minutes, but this match was barely two minutes old before it exploded into life. Bohs forced an early corner which was taken by Andy Mulligan. His low pass was stepped-over by Anto Murphy before Luke Byrne scuffed a shot goalwards. First to react was the wily Mulcahy, who poked out a toe and beat Barry Murphy from close range. Cue delerium from the Jodi Stand, with some fans spilling onto the pitch in their delight.

The huddled Hooped horde in the Des Kelly stand were particularly tetchy all evening, spitting their fury toward referee Padraig Sutton, their own players, and finally manager Trevor Croly as the evening wore on. Danny Ledwith almost gave them some relief but his sixth minute free kick cannoned off the post. The Shams fans were particularly irked when Mulcahy clattered into Conor Powell after 9 minutes. It was a challenge that can be filed under “robust”, but the yellow card shown to him was sufficient. Croly was particularly apoplectic on the sideline, but he looked like a man under immense pressure for the entire 90 minutes.

While Rovers dominated possession and territory, it was Bohs who looked particularly dangerous from set pieces. First Conor Murphy should have done better from a whipped free kick, and then Anto Murphy couldnt quite twist his head around to make meaningful contact on a Mulligan corner. As half-time approached, Rovers were well on top, and could easily have had a penalty when debutant Byrne seemed to clearly handle in the box. He was trying to protect his face, but got two hands on the ball and Sutton amazingly didnt point to the spot.

The second period continued in a similar vein. Rovers piled men forward with little penetration, while Bohs struggled to put together some decent counter attacks. One counter attack that worked brilliantly allowed Dinny Corcoran to nod through to Andy Mulligan down the left. The Arklow man’s bobbly shot seemed to be destined for the corner, but agonizingly crept past the post and wide. Suspended Karl Moore, sitting in block E amongst the Bohs fans and cheering every tackle, was sure it was in.

As Bohs got deeper and deeper, nails were being bitten shorter and shorter. For all Shamrock Rovers squad depth and supposed talent, their constantly hoofed passes from the back seemed to be getting them nowhere until a bizarre penalty incident with 10 minutes remaining. Ken Oman launched yet another aimless ball toward the Bohs box where the first header was missed. The ball was about to bounce over Derek Pender into Mark Quigley’s path, and the Bohs full-back had no option but to stick his hand out and slap it away. This time Sutton pointed to the spot and Bohs hearts sank. In truth, Pender was lucky not to be sent off as he denied a clear goalscoring opportunity. Ronan Finn stepped up confidently, but his firmly struck penalty crashed off the crossbar and was scrambled clear. The roar of relief would have been heard in Wicklow.

The penalty was Rovers last real opportunity, and a series of blocked shots was all they had to offer in the last 10. Bohs were heroic in defence, with Luke Byrne in particular making some vital last ditch headers and clearances. Anto Murphy and Roberto Lopes were also immense at centre half, while Dinny Corcoran held the ball up magnificently on his own. Special mention to Stephen Traynor who was calm, collected and classy when he came on.

With the FAI Cup resuming next week, Heary has the chance to regroup and recouperate before a trip to table-topping St Pats. The blue touch paper has been well and truly lit on Bohs’ survival story.

Bohemians: Dean Delany; Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Anto Murphy, Luke Byrne; Andy Mulligan, Dave Mulcahy, Daniel Byrne, Lorcan Shannon (Keith Buckley ’53); Conor Murphy (Stephen Traynor ’60), Dinny Corcoran (Dave Scully ’84). Subs not used: Darragh Reynor, Dave Scully, Kevin Devaney, Michael Barker, Greg Murray.

Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy; Conor Powell, Ken Oman, Pat Sullivan (c), Danny Ledwith (Mark Quigley ’65); Gary McCabe (Thomas Stewart ’46), Conor McCormack, Shane Robinson (Eamon Zayed ’84), Richie Ryan;  Ronan Finn, Karl Sheppard Subs not used: James Chambers, Nathan Brown, David Elebert, Shane Fagan

Attendance: 2,761

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