PRICE IS RIGHT FOR MEN IN GREEN

DUNDALK  1 – 1  BOHEMIANS

Bohemians debuted a new away strip, a compact new formation, and a steely grit as they grabbed a hard-earned point in Oriel Park against last season’s Airtricity League runners up. Owen Heary’s men banished the demons of last week’s Derby defeat with a rousing rearguard performance against a largely-dominant Dundalk side.

In front of a big early-season crowd in the northeast, Aidan Price cancelled out Brian Gartland’s opener in a game decided by two first half set-piece headers. Those goals came within three minutes of each other, but Bohs spent most of the second period camped in their own half, and have Dean Delany to thank for the point as he pulled off a superb injury time save from John Mountney, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Boss Heary made 5 changes to the team that lost to Shamrock Rovers and reverted to a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Dan Byrne shielding the back four. Karl Moore played from the left, Patrick Kavanagh from the right, with Jason Byrne ploughing a lone furrow ahead of Keith Buckley and Craig Walsh. The other change saw Darragh Reynor step in for Jack Memery at left back. This was the first outing for the much talked-about away strip. Although playing in an unfamiliar colour, Bohs certiainly got the rub of the green for most of the 90 minutes here.

The Oriel Park pitch is one that surely no one in the league likes playing on. Bouncy, bobbly, rough, and generally rather awkward, the astro turf in Dundalk never seems to suit a flowing game. This was certainly the case in the opening 15 minutes, with miscontrols and misplaced passes dominating procedures. The first flash at goal came from a likely source – Jason Byrne was 25 yards out at a tough angle, but his snapshot swerved and dipped just above Peter Cherrie’s crossbar. This seemed to spring Dundalk into life, and Dean Delany had to make a fine reaction save after good solo work from Kurtis Byrne.

Dundalk were struggling to create anything in behind a rigid Bohs, but managed to squeeze into the lead on 28 minutes. An outswinging Darren Meenan corner was met by the ample forehead of Brian Gartland, whose header had goal written all over it from the moment he made contact. A disappointing concession for Owen Heary, who will be disgruntled at the ease in which Gartland headed the Lilywhites into the lead.

The giddy home fans on the Shed Side weren’t hopping for long, as the men in green got a quick-fire equaliser just two minutes later. Darragh Reynor’s delicious in-swinging free-kick found Aidan Price, and the towering defender placed his penalty-spot header expertly into the far corner. Cue wild scenes from the away fans. The Gypsies could even have gone into the break ahead after a stroke of genius from Byrne almost came off. Pouncing on loose control from Dane Massey, the veteran striker looked up, spotted Cherrie off his line, and tried an audacious 40 yard attempt. The Dundalk keeper scrambled back to tip the ball over the bar, and half time came.

The editors for RTE’s Soccer Republic will have a job finding any positive highlights for Bohs in the second period. Happy with the scoreline, the Gypsies set out their stall to defend for the second half. The wind increased as the game progressed, making for a tense final 20 minutes. Delany was Bohs’ stand-out performer. Richie Towell mimicked Jason Byrne’s first half effort, forcing Delany to tip his 30 yard chip just over the bar. Sub John Mountney caused Reynor plenty of problems on the right flank, but Bohs bravely kept fighting. The home fans were increasingly frustrated, and you felt there was one big chance left in the game as 5 minutes of stoppage time was announced.

The chance arrived on 92 minutes, and Delany proved his worth with an absolutely outstanding save. Sub David McMillan launched a long throw into the box – the ball bounced around, and sat up perfectly for John Mountney. His right-footed volley looked to be the winner, but Delany’s outstretched claw saved the day for Bohs.

Next up is an interesting three-game in 7 days run of Bray (home), Athlone (away), and Limerick (home). Owen Heary will be hoping to at least double the current points tally of 5 by April 11th.

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie, Sean Gannon (Ruaidhri Higgins, 82), Andy Boyle, Brian Gartland, Dane Massey, Stephen O’Donnell, Richie Towell, Daryl Horgan, Darren Meenan (John Mountney, 66), Kurtis Byrne, Pat Hoban. Subs not used: Chris Shields, Marc Griffin, Manuel Kaguako, Gabriel Sava.

Bohemians:  Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Darragh Raynor, Keith Buckley, Dan Byrne (Ryan McEvoy, 86), Craig Walsh, Karl Moore, Paddy Kavanagh (Stephen Beattie, 66), Jason Byrne (Dinny Corcoran, 90+2). Subs not used: Philly McCabe, Stephen Traynor, Kevin Devaney, Lee Murphy.

Bohemianfc.com Man of the Match: Dean Delany

DERBY NIGHT TURNS GREEN AND WHITE

BOHEMIANS  1 – 3  SHAMROCK ROVERS

A late double salvo from Ronan Finn and Kieran ‘Marty’ Waters settled a scrappy and tempestuous Dublin Derby as Bohemians suffered their first defeat of the season at the hands of their fiercest rivals. A Conor Kenna own goal had earlier cancelled out Gary McCabe’s penalty as the Gypsies coughed up more sloppy goals at Dalymount Park.

A huge and boisterous crowd meant the game was played at a frantic pace, and featured chances at both ends, refereeing disagreements, and the usual cacophony of crowd hostility inside the stadium. This was the League of Ireland at its best, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Boss Owen Heary named the same team that drew with Drogheda United last week, with fit again Karl Moore starting from the bench. The opening 15 minutes were extremely cagey – a line that could easily have been written about every Bohs-Rovers game ever. The visitors looked the more comfortable on the ball, particularly the returning Luke Byrne, who was given an extremely hostile reception from the Bohs faithful.

If Byrne looked comfortable, the same could not be said of Jack Memery, who will want to completely wipe the memory of this game from his mind. The left back was culpable for all three Rovers goals, beginning with the opener on 14 minutes. After Gary McCabe got in behind Memery on the byline, the defender’s clumsy challenge left referee Padraig Sutton with little option. McCabe himself stepped up, and sent Dean Delany the wrong way to send the surprisingly large away crowd into convulsions of glee. Owen Heary would have no complaints about the penalty, but was aggrieved at the award of a Rovers throw-in in the lead up. The Bohs boss rightly felt that Simon Madden had touched the ball last.

Heary was also miffed on the half hour mark, when Dinny Corcoran had a goal dubiously ruled out for offside. Paddy Kavanagh’s cross fell kindly into Corcoran’s path, but the near-side linesman waved a slightly late flag. Corcoran looked to be level when the ball was kicked. Bohs best first half chance came just three minutes later when the impressive Craig Walsh snarled his way into the box with a determined run. His effort was blocked, and Kevin Devaney’s rebound agonizingly hit the crossbar and went over.

Heary didn’t waste much time changing things in the second half, which was barely 10 minutes old when Jason Byrne arrived, moving the Gypsies into a 4-4-2 formation. Byrne was almost instantly through on goal, but his effort was excellently saved by Barry Murphy. However, the change of shape did initially give Bohs a boost, and the equaliser deservedly arrived on 65 minutes. A delicious triangle of passes involving Kavanagh, Corcoran, and Derek Pender led to the latter bursting into the Rovers box. His low, drilled cross was a defender’s nightmare, and Hoops captain Conor Kenna could only smash an attempted clearance into his own net.

Unfortunately, that was as good as it got for Bohs. The game had drifted into a bit of a lull when a 3 minute one-two sent the home side onto the canvas. Rovers right back Simon Madden, who was excellent all game, made the most of a Jack Memery slip to send a lovely deep cross onto the head of Ciaran Kilduff. He nodded the ball back across to Ronan Finn, who forced his header in. Although the header was from close range, the ball was straight at Dean Delany, but somehow found its way into the back of the net.

The killer blow arrived less than 3 minutes later. Madden went into a 40-60 with Jack Memery and came out well on top. The spinning ball stayed in play, and allowed the full back to pick out another super cross. This time, Kieran Marty Waters gave the Cheerin Shouty Supporters more to crow about, and the game was all but done.

Bohs have a tough task to bounce back from this defeat, and a trip to Oriel Park is next on the calendar for Owen Heary’s men.

Bohemians: Dean Delany Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Jack Memery (Karl Moore 78), Steven Beattie, Craig Walsh (Stephen Traynor 75), Kevin Devaney (Jason Byrne 56), Ryan McEvoy, Paddy Kavanagh, Dinny Corcoran. Subs not used: Daniel Byrne, Keith Buckley, Philip McCabe, Lee Murphy.

Shamrock Rovers: Barry Murphy, Simon Madden, Jason McGuinness, Conor Kenna, Luke Byrne,  Ryan Brennan (Robert Bayly 78), Shane Robinson, Gary McCabe, Ronan Finn, Sean O’Connor (Kieran Marty Waterts 75), Ciaran Kilduff. Subs not used: Rob Cornwall, Karl Sheppard, Eamon Zayed, Dean Kelly, Craig Hyland.

LAST-GASP DROGS SNEAK A POINT

BOHEMIANS  2 – 2  DROGHEDA UNITED

Gary O’Neill’s 89th-minute equaliser snatched an ill-deserved point for Drogheda United, but Bohemians will rue a glut of missed chances after throwing away a two-goal lead at Dalymount Park. It was a tale of two strikers as Dinny Corcoran’s brace put the home side two up within the half hour, but it was O’Neill who had the last word, capitalising on sloppy Bohs defending to keep the visitors on top of the fledgling SSE Airtricity League table.

In a game of numerous chances, slack defending, and some excellent attacking football, Owen Heary will be by far the more disappointed manager, with his Pro License classmate Robbie Horgan content with a point on his trip back up the M1, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Bohs made two enforced changes from last week’s comprehensive opening victory over UCD, with Ryan McEvoy and Kevin Devaney replacing the injured Dave Mulcahy and Karl Moore respectively. However, it was McEvoy’s midfield partner Craig Walsh who ignited this game in the 14th minute. The former ‘Football’s Next Star’ candidate burst through two challenges on the left flank, and unleashed a sublime through ball with the outside of his right boot. The pass curled majestically into the path of Dinny Corcoran, who controlled well, steadied himself, and tucked the ball neatly into the bottom corner past Dave Ryan.

Bohs were showing the kind of attacking flair that has many fans chirping about a top half finish already, with Paddy Kavanagh again weaving some magic in the hole behind Corcoran. It was a slaloming run from Kavanagh that instigated Bohs’ second. He cut inside from the left flank, showed quick feet, and toe-poked it across to Corcoran, who was felled from behind by a lunging Alan McNally. The familiar shiny-topped figure of referee Dave McKeon pointed to the spot without hesitation. Though Ryan McEvoy enquired about taking the penalty, there was no prying the ball from Corcoran, who confidently slotted the ball into the same corner to make it 2-0 before the half hour.

The boisterous home crowd sang ‘we are top of the league’, and there seemed to be little danger of note from a sluggish Drogheda, who hadn’t registered a shot on target until a 35th minute disaster. Left back Jack Memery was off the pitch having treatment for a burst lip, but the confusion that occurred between Dean Delany and Roberto Lopes was baffling. A hopeful long punt seemed to be skipping too far ahead of the chasing Gary O’Neill, who at one point, checked his run as he thought Delany was going to gather. However, the Bohs keeper never came, Lopes let O’Neill go, and the Drogs hitman somehow squeezed the ball in from a stupendously-tight angle. It was the kind of goal a manager has nightmares about.

Despite the setback, Bohs could have all-but killed the game either side of half time. First, a lightning break involving Walsh, Kavanagh, and Steven Beattie put Corcoran clean through, but the striker flashed his shot high and wide with a hat-trick at his mercy. Then, just six minutes after the restart, Corcoran combined with Kevin Devaney to release Kavanagh, who blazed over from 16 yards with only Ryan to beat. Knowing glances were shared among the Bohs faithful – these missed chances were going to cost the men in black (with a splash of red) dear.

Drogheda had two great chances to equalise before the goal eventually came, and both involved sheer luck combined with heroic defending. First, a weak Delany punch fell straight to Eric Foley, but the midfielder could only head straight back at the Bohs keeper. Then, with just 4 minutes remaining, Aidan Price made an awesome block on the goal-line to deny Cathal Brady. Bohs went up the other end immediately, and when Beattie’s cross found sub Stephen Traynor’s head 8 yards out, the victory should have been secured. Traynor however, headed straight at Ryan, and Bohs were finally punished for a lack of ruthlessness in the 89th minute. An in-swinging corner fell to the back post, where Derek Pender crucially slipped, allowing Gary O’Neill to force the ball home and send the visiting supporters wild in the Shed End. A crushing blow for Bohs, but all credit to O’Neill. That the former Bohs man is even playing football at all is an inspiration, never mind being Drogheda’s sharpest, most intelligent attacking threat. If a last minute equaliser has to be conceded, better it go to O’Neill than anyone else.

All that sets us up for a simply mouthwatering clash with Shamrock Rovers next Friday. Dublin 7 will be hopping.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Jack Memery, Ryan McEvoy, Craig Walsh, Steven Beattie, Paddy Kavanagh (Stephen Traynor, 67), Kevin Devaney, Dinny Corcoran (Jason Byrne, 77). Subs not used: Lee Murphy, Dan Byrne, Darragh Reynor, Keith Buckley, Philly McCabe.

Drogheda United: Dave Ryan, Michael Daly, Alan McNally, Paul Andrews, Shane Grimes, Cathal Brady, Ciaran McGuigan, Carl Walshe (Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien, 77), Daire Doyle (Stephen Maher, 68), Eric Foley (Gavin Holohan, 68), Gary O’Neill. Subs not used: Dylan Connolly, Paul Crowley, Austin McCann, Ciaran O’Connor.

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