HEAR-OIC BOHS BATTLE OFF BOTTOM

BOHEMIANS 1 – 0 SHAMROCK ROVERS

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.

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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

Cork City 1 Bohemians 0

CORK CITY 1 BOHEMIANS 0

Danny Morrissey scored a dramatic injury-time winner for Cork City as they saw off Bohemians 1-0 at Turner’s Cross on Friday night, writes Extratime.ie‘s SEAN GEARY.

The win, Stuart Ashton’s first league match in charge, eases any relegation worries City may have had but it was another worrying loss for Owen Heary’s Bohemians.

Bohs remain bottom of the league but results elsewhere went their way and they still lie only two points from safety.

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LOPES LEAVES IT LATE

BOHEMIANS 1 DROGHEDA UNITED 1

Bohemians dropped down one league position on Friday night to occupy bottom place for the first time this season, writes CILLIAN SHIELDS.

But it wasn’t all bad news as the draw, secured by Roberto Lopes’ late equaliser, brought plenty of positives for the Gypsies’ battle for survival as they secured their first point at home since April.

Seeing out the second of his two-match suspension, caretaker boss Owen Heary once again had to watch on from the TV gantry as Bohs started brightly and with a renewed sense of urgency after last week’s massive three points gained away to relegation rivals Bray Wanderers.

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Chris Lyons and Dinny Corcoran pressed high from the off and made life difficult for the visitors’ defence. But Bohs were unable to turn the pressure into any clear-cut goalscoring opportunities.

The closest they came to breaking the deadlock in this early spell was when Karl Moore attacked the Drogs defence on the left wing before setting striker Corcoran clear with a beautifully-measured through ball. The ex-UCD and Drogheda frontman failed to control the ball sufficiently to get a clear strike, and the attack petered out into nothing.

Soon afterwards, Drogheda’s shape improved, and their midfielders and wingers got more time on the ball. A series of David Cassidy corners left Bohs fans biting their nails. But a defence that was missing Owen Heary, Dave Mulcahy, and Luke Byrne, was bolstered with the re-signing of Anto Murphy, who added composure and stability to the weakened backline.

Dean Delany had to be alert when one of Cassidy’s corners found its way to the feet of Gavin Brennan, whose low strike was well saved by the Bohs goalkeeper.

The second half continued much like the first, with Drogheda enjoying much more of the possession. On one of the rare occasions that Bohs were able to find space to attack the opposition, Conor Murphy squared the ball to the awaiting Corcoran, whose low shot was too tame to beat Michael Schlingermann.

Drogheda’s pressure nearly paid off when a well-constructed training ground move saw a corner come straight to Ryan Brennan near the edge of the box. He met the ball perfectly and his bullet shot clattered the Bohs crossbar.

But Drogs eventually drew first blood on 65 minutes when Delany failed to deal with a powerful in-swinging corner from Gavin Brennan. He could only parry to defender Alan Byrne, who finished from close range to give Mick Cooke’s men the lead.

After the goal, the home side found it difficult to get back into the game, with the midfield looking absent for large spells. Drogheda continued to attack when on the ball, and didn’t have a lot to deal with defensively, as Bohs began to look desperate after going a goal down.

It was difficult to see how the home team were going to find a leveller, but with two minutes left of normal time, Anto Murphy told Darragh Reynor to leave a throw-in and allow him to take it instead.

Murphy, who turns 31 this Thursday, threw it straight into the danger zone for his only long throw of the night, and the ball was met by his centre-back partner Lopes, who cooly volleyed home from six yards out.

The excitement would continue, as mere minutes later Dalymount Park went from ecstatic to momentarily heartbroken when Declan O’Brien put the ball in the back of Delany’s net, only to be pulled back for offside.

The home side then could have snatched all three points, when substitute Dave Scully found himself with a bit of space in the box, only to go down from a tackle too easily for the referee Rob Rogers’ liking, who booked the striker for diving.

The stalemate leaves Bohemians bottom and Drogheda just four points and four league positions higher. Bohs have now taken four points from a possible six since parting ways with former manager Aaron Callaghan, and could overtake as much as three teams next week if results go their way.

Speaking after the match, Anto Murphy said: “It’s a very important point for us, as Drogheda were putting a lot of pressure on us for most of the match. I think when we switched to three at the back we started getting a lot more joy on the sides.”

Murphy brings much experience to the youthful Bohemians team. He feels he has more of a responsibility now than the first time he was at the club, when he won five major trophies from 2008-2010.

He said: “Position-wise, and talking; the young lads wouldn’t be used to it so much. But I was telling the lads to just keep at it. I told them the more we get it down the wings, the more corners and throw-ins we’ll get, and I knew I could throw the ball as good as a corner.”

After being out of the League of Ireland since leaving Shelbourne at the end of last season, Murphy reassured Bohs fans that he has retained much of his fitness having played with Sheriff YC this season, although he acknowledge he lacked match fitness having been away on honeymoon for the majority of June.

He added: “I got back into training around the start of July, so I’m fit, but it’s just match fitness that I’ll need to regain, which I should be able to achieve over the next couple of weeks playing and training.”

Bohemians: Delany; Barker (Scully, 83), Lopes, A Murphy, Reynor; Buckley, Traynor (Mulligan 69), McEvoy, Moore; Corcoran, Lyons  (C Murphy 49).

Drogheda United: Schlingermann; Grimes, Byrne, Prendergast, G. Brennan; R. Brennan, O’Conor, O’Neill, Cassidy: Rusk, Hynes (O‘Brien 69).

Referee: Rob Rogers (Dublin).

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