IT’S GOOD TO BE BACK! DOMINANT BOHS DISPATCH LIMERICK

LIMERICK  0 – 3  BOHEMIANS

In his wildest dreams, Keith Long could hardly have envisaged a better start to Bohemians’ 2015 season. Less that 90 seconds into a tricky opening away game, the Gypsies had the lead, then carefully built on it to record a comfortable 3-0 victory in Limerick on an electric Saturday night for the North Dublin side.

Goals from Adam Evans, Dean Kelly, and Lorcan Fitzgerald gave the away side an emphatic victory against an abject Limerick side in front of a raucous away crowd in Jackman Park. Fears about  a lack of goals in pre-season were swiftly put aside as the Gypsies raced into a 2 goal lead inside 15 minutes. A third goal followed early in the second half, and Long’s side eased to a truly impressive win – and a place at the top of the fledgling Airtricity League Premier Division table, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Long welcomed Anto Murphy, Derek Pender, and Dean Kelly into the side after recent knocks, and was treated to an opening goal that caught out most of the late arrivals into Jackman Park. Straight from the tip off, Keith Buckley pinged a crossfield ball toward Adam Evans which was cleared by Limerick’s Sean Harding. From the resulting corner, Dean Kelly’s flicked header cannoned off goalkeeper Conor O’Donnell, and fell kindly for Evans who simply bundled the ball in from less than a yard out.

The tempo to Bohs’ play was excellent from the word go – with Roberto Lopes and Kealan Dillon dictating the pace in the middle of the park. The midfield duo were too strong, too determined, and too skillful for Limerick, who were forced onto the back foot for the majority of the opening half. Limerick’s new look defence looked shaky, and the second goal was an unsurprising occurrence.

Evans was involved again, latching onto a lovely dinked pass from Dillon. Limerick left back Robbie Williams came across to clear, but his challenge ricocheted off of Evans, and rolled deliciously across the six yard line. Dean Kelly couldn’t believe his luck, and side-footed into the empty net from six yards. By this time, the entire away crowd had assembled into the temporary stand behind the goal, and the celebrations were as wild as you could imagine.

Shellshocked, struggling, and seemingly out of ideas already, Limerick employed a crass, long-ball style of play with no real coherence. Bohs’ centre-half partnership of Anto Murphy and Derek Prendergast seemed in complete control, and Dean Delany had little to do bar the collection of the occasional over-hit cross. The game fell into a perfect rhythm for Bohs, who could counter attack with menace whenever Limerick gave the ball away. A feature was Bohs’ ability to win 50-50 challenges, and this set up some decent counter attacking opportunities, but none turned into clear-cut chances. Dean Kelly had a free kick from 20 yards out, but shot straight at O’Donnell.

The game was ended as a contest just before the hour mark. The impressive Dillon was clumsily upended by Aidan Price about 25 yards out. Although only signed by Martin Russell in midweek, Price had a nightmare of a debut for the Blues, who looked to be a side bereft of ideas and cohesion. In contrast, Bohs were well organised, disciplined, and dangerous on the counter. Lorcan Fitzgerald stepped up to take the free, and curled a beautiful left-footed strike into the far corner, giving O’Donnell no chance.

Long had the luxury of taking captain Pender out of the firing line with more than a half hour to go. Bohs now face two home games in the space of four days. Athlone arrive in Dalyymount for an EA Sports cup tie on Tuesday before newly-promoted Galway United visit on Friday in the league. The boisterous away crowd in Limerick debuted a number of new chants, but the most apt was a simple rendition of Oasis’ 1995 album opener ‘Hello’. “It’s good to be back, it’s good to be back”, they sang. How true.

Limerick FC: Conor O’Donnell, Sean Harding, Paudie O’Connor, Aidan Price, Robbie Williams, Ian Turner, Shane Duggan, Paul O’Conor, Ross Mann (Vinny Faherty, 46), Darragh Rainsford (Sean McSweeney, 78), Dean Clarke. Subs not used: Tony Whitehead, Tommy Holland, Kieran Hanlon, Val Feeney, Shane Costelloe.

Bohemians: Dean Delaney, Derek Pender (Dylan Hayes, 61), Derek Prendergast, Anto Murphy, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Paddy Kavanagh, Roberto Lopes, Kealan Dillon, Adam Evans, Keith Buckley (Robbie Creevy, 78), Dean Kelly (Jason Byrne, 73). Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Jake Hyland, Karl Moore, Marc Griffin

Attendance: 920

BohemianFC.com Man of the Match: Kealan Dillon

GYPSIES PROGRESS – THE LONG WAY ROUND

BOHEMIANS  0 – 0  BRAY WANDERERS (AET –  BOHS WON 4 – 2 ON PENALTIES)

After 120 goalless minutes at Dalymount Park, penalties were required to separate Keith Long’s new-ish look Bohemians and visitors Bray Wanderers. Long’s Gypsies progressed to the Leinster Senior Cup quarter finals after former cult hero Dave Scully crashed his decisive penalty off the crossbar after a topsy-turvy cup tie in North Dublin.

While the LSC is never top of any new manager’s priority list, Bohs boss Long will be pleased with an extended run out for many of his key players, and a first competitive success. In truth, the home side should have wrapped up this last 16 tie well before the 90 minutes were up. Many of the decent crowd at Dalymount got a first look at several new signings, and would have been intrigued with the second half performance in particular, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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With 3 brand new arrivals in the starting line-up, the Bohs back 4 was the most unfamiliar to the home fans in attendance. Experienced duo Lorcan Fitzgerald and Derek Prendergast joined Stephen Best and Derek Pender in an all-new back four, while Kealan Dillon started alongside Roberto Lopes in midfield. Veteran Jason Byrne led the line on the eve of his 37th birthday.

Bohs’ wingers had a familiar look, and they combined to create the opening chance in the third minute. Keith Buckley has been impressive in pre-season, and his driven cross was met by Karl Moore on the opposite wing – but the shot was straight at Bray’s Stephen McGuinness. Unfortunately for the fans in a chilly, windswept Jodi Stand, that was the only clear cut opportunity of the opening half. Derek Prendergast had a header wide from a Dillon cross, but apart from that, the loudest cheer was reserved for referee Ben Connolly falling head over heels on the Dalymount turf.

Speaking of, manager Long will certainly be concerned with the pitch at the home of Irish football. Pock-marked and bobbly, the surface simply doesn’t lend to flowing football, and 120 sodden minutes wont have helped it today.

The game heated up in every way just after the break as Bohs carved out three clear-cut chances within 10 minutes of the re-start. Half time substitute Robbie Creevy had the first, but he somehow failed to connect with a pinpoint Derek Pender drive across the face of goal. Buckley was next, picked out by a sublime pass from Moore. However, the Bohs No. 8 was streching at the ball and could only toe-poke wide. Finally, Paddy Kavanagh missed the best of the lot after a determined run from Roberto Lopes. Lopes’s pull-back found Kavanagh 8 yards out, but he could only shoot straight at the legs of McGuinness.

The game was somewhat disrupted after an unfortunate injury to Bray’s Graham Kelly. Robbie Creevy chopped him down in order to stop an attack – a professional yellow card – but Kelly seemed to be seriously injured, and the dreaded inflated leg-brace / stretcher came on. For a pre-season-type of game, there was a lot of niggle, and referee Ben Connolly had a poor game. He could easily have sent off Dave Scully and Bray sub Emeka Onwubiko, while Creevy was lucky not to have gone for a kick out at Scully, who was a genuine irritant all afternoon. David Cassidy was Bray’s brightest light. He tested Delany with 10 minutes to go, and had the ball in the net a minute later, but his effort was ruled out for offside.

Extra time was a much trickier affair for Bohs. After Prendergast saw his header come off the crossbar in the opening minutes, Bray started to get on top. Bohs captain Pender was forced off with a knee injury, and with all 3 subs used, the home side had to play the last 10 minutes with just 10 men. Delany showed his worth, saving two stinging free-kicks from Daniel O’Reilly. Bray had the ball in the net again, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Delany by another Bohs old-boy, Chris Lyons (Bray started five former Gypsies in total, Scully, Lyons, Ryan McEvoy, Michael Barker, and Jack Memery).

They say penalties are always a lottery, but when you take them like Bohs did, you’ve got more than a fighting chance. Buckley, Creevy, Kavanagh, and Prendergast buried their kicks. For Bray, Lyons saw his spot kick well saved by Delany. Then, with the pressure on, Scully tried to burst the ball, which crashed off the crossbar, sending Bohs into the quarter final after a Long haul of an afternoon.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Derek Prendergast, Stephen Best, Lorcan Fitzgerald, Keith Buckley, Roberto Lopes, Kealan Dillon (Robbie Creevy, 46), Karl Moore (Adam Evans, 60), Paddy Kavanagh, Jason Byrne (Marc Griffin, 81). Subs not used: Lee Stacy, Jake Hyland, Dillon Hayes, James O’Brien.

Bray Wanderers: Stephen McGuinness, Michael Barker, Alan McNally (Hugh Douglas, 46), Daniel O’Reilly, Jack Memery, James O’Donnell (Emeka Onwubiko, 57), David Cassidy, Ryan McEvoy, Graham Kelly (Luke Gallagher, 72), Dave Scully, Chris Lyons. Subs not used: Brian Kane, Adam Mitchell, Niall Cooney, Peter Durrad.

BohemianFC.com Man of the Match: Roberto Lopes

GYPSIES SNATCH SEVENTH IN PARTING GIFT TO HEARY

BOHEMIANS 2 – 1 DERRY CITY

Departing Bohemians manager Owen Heary signed off with another impressive home win as the Gypsies leapfrogged visitors Derry City into 7th place as the dust settled on the 2014 SSE Airtricity League season. Goals from the prolific strike partnership of Dinny Corcoran and Jason Byrne clawed back a lead against a Derry side with one eye on next week’s FAI Cup final.

It was a strange atmosphere in Dalymount, with many fans unsure if this was the last time they’d see some of these players in red and black. Heary’s departure was all-but confirmed, but there were still 3 vital points to play for. A 7th place finish with respectable cup runs would be undoubtedly a season of exceeded expectations, and that’s exactly how it played out, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Heary’s final selection was a familiar 4-4-2, with Jason Byrne captaining the side. Kevin Devaney returned to the right wing, and resumed his terrorising of defences with incisive runs. He was backed up on the right flank by Steven Beattie – how Bohs fans would dearly love to see those two don the famous jersey in 2015.

However, it was a depleted Derry who took the lead. The Candystripes named only 5 substitutes and were without key men Rory Patterson, and Patrick McEleney, but that didn’t stop an impressive opener. Youngster Josh Treacy was offered too much space in front of the back four, and he picked out Mark Timlin on the right edge of the box. Timlin jinked inside Jack Memery, and fired a low drive into Dean Delany’s bottom corner.

Before Friday, Bohs had not come from behind to win a game this season, but that was all to change once the strike partnership of Jason Byrne and Dinny Corcoran clicked into action. Corcoran’s equaliser was his 20th of the season in all competitions, a fantastic return for the Donabate man. Eoin Wearen collected a clearance, and floated the ball back into the box. Derry seemed to stop, thinking Corcoran was offside – but he had time to control on the chest and side-foot Bohs back into it.

On what was likely his last appearance in a Bohs shirt, Steven Beattie was excellent in the right back role. Bombing forward with Devaney on the right, he earned Bohs a penalty on the stroke of half time. Played through by Devaney, he got to the ball a split-second before Ger Doherty in the Derry goal. Referee Andrew Mullaly first indicated a free kick, but after consultation with his assistant, pointed to the spot. Jason Byrne stepped up and did what he does best – scoring yet another league of Ireland winner.

Byrne left the field to a standing ovation late in the second half. With Derry having made their three substitutes, a serious head injury to Ryan McBride meant that Bohs played against 10-men in the last 10 minutes. Dinny had the chance to get a 21st goal in injury time, but his penalty was skewed wide.

The next league game in Dalymount in March will see a new manager, and almost certainly a much-changed squad. A stablised Bohs can now look up the table, and forward to the future.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Steven Beattie, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Jack Memery, Kevin Devaney (Jake Hyland, 80), Keith Buckley (Paddy Kavanagh, 80), Eoin Wearen, Karl Moore, Dinny Corcoran, Jason Byrne (Craig Walsh, 80). Subs not used: Ryan McEvoy, Adam Evans, Paddy Collins, Gavin Moore.

Derry City: Ger Doherty, Barry Molloy, Shane McEleney, Aaron Barry (Ryan McBride, 46), Dean Jarvis, Mark Timlin, Danny Ventre, Sean Houston (Philip Lowry, 15), Joshua Tracey, Ryan Curran, Nathan Boyle (Stephen Dooley, 68). Subs not used: Michael Duffy, Ciaran Gallagher.

Mr. Green Bohemian Man of the Match: Keith Buckley

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