BOHS DUN BY SLICK LILYWHITES

DUNDALK 3 – 0 BOHEMIANS

The relegation heat is well and truly on for Bohemians after another flat, lifeless defeat left the Gypsies just one point above the automatic relegation spot in the Airtricity Premier Division. Title-chasing Dundalk condemned Bohs to their 5th league defeat in a row after three calamitous, unanswered goals in front of a boisterous home support. In an extremely disappointing second half period, a section of Bohemians supporters audibly turned on Gypsies manager Aaron Callaghan for the first time of real notice during this disastrous run of form.

Goalkeeping errors, defensive mistakes and a ridiculous red card for captain Owen Heary sapped the life out of a clearly disheartened visiting team. Callaghan went for a more attacking 4-4-2 formation but chance and goals still failed to materialise, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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After an initially cagey opening quarter, Dundalk began to turn the screw. Dean Delany saved brilliantly at his near post following a powerful snap-shot from Kurtis Byrne. Unfortunately for the Bohs net minder, that good work was undone when Dundalk grabbed the opener on 27 minutes. Keith Buckley surrendered possession on the right wing and Dane Massey’s looped cross was misjudged by Delany – who could only flap as the ball cannoned off Dave Mulcahy, Pat Hoban, and dribbled into the net.

Bohs’ only real clear cut chance of note fell to Conor Murphy who wriggled his way into the Dundalk box on 35 minutes, however the home side’s bouncy astroturf pitch did him no favours as he couldn’t quite get it down before prodding wide. Dundalk finished the half stronger with a series of free kicks and corners hemming Bohs into their own half.

The opening 15 minutes of the 2nd half yielded little for both teams before a suicidal ten minute spell signalled a change in attitudes both on and off the pitch. First, the usually dependable Dave Mulcahy made what could be described as a schoolboy error of misjudging a floating ball allowing Hoban clean through on goal. The ball bounced kindly for the Dundalk striker who had the relatively simple task of nodding over the on rushing Delany to double the Lillywhites’ advantage. Just 7 minutes later, the game was all but done following another goalkeeping mistake from the ex-Shelbourne keeper. Hoban was a menace to Bohs all night – but there seemed to be little danger when the ball fell to him on the right hand side of the box almost at the by-line. His cross-cum shot was relatively powerful, but caught Delany out at his near post, and the keeper could only bat it into the top corner of his own net.

The atmosphere within the Bohemians fans turned from that point onwards, with manager Callaghan receiving the brunt of their criticism. To compound the misery, captain Owen Heary produced a moment of madness with 20 minutes remaining. Playing at right back, the 37 year old had endured a nightmare of a game – and his groin-high stamp on Hoban gave referee Neil Doyle little option but to show a straight red card. He will miss vital games against Bray Wanderers and Drogheda United; games where his experience could have come in handy.

Bohs ironically began to play a bit following the dismissal of Heary. The introduction of Chris Lyons, and new signings Dinny Corcoran & Lorcan Shannon added some freshness to the already defeated team.

Very few fans applauded the Bohemian players off the pitch, which is a very rare occurrence. To his credit, Bohs goalkeeping coach Fred Davis came out to reason with a group of supporters who were waiting at the side of the pitch at the end of the game. He reiterated Callaghan’s mantra of “young, inexperienced players” and pointed to the crucial next 3 weeks and games against relegation rivals. With Shelbourne closing to within a point at the bottom of the table, next week’s game against Bray becomes absolutely do or die for the struggling Gypsies.

Dundalk: Peter Cherrie; John Sullivan(69), Andy Boyle, Mark Rossiter, Dane Massey(Brian Gartland 53); Richie Towell, Stephen O’Donnell©; Darren Meenan, Francis McCaffrey(John Dillon78); Patrick Hoban, Kurtis Byrne. Subs not used: Vinny Faherty, Jordan Keegan, Brian Gartland, Aaron Shanahan.

Bohemians: Dean Delany; Owen Heary©, Dave Mulcahy, Derek Pender, Luke Byrne; Michael Barker, Keith Buckley, Shane Murray(Lorcan Shannon 58), Karl Moore; Conor Murphy(Chris Lyons 76), Dave Scully(Daniel Corcoran 71). Subs not used: Roberto Lopez, Kevin Devanney, Santiago Folbo, Greg Murray.

BOSS HOGS POINTS FOR SMASH AND GRAB LIMERICK

BOHEMAINS 0 – 1 LIMERICK

Limerick left Dalymount Park with a scarcely-deserved three points after Axel Bossekota’s second half strike condemed the Gypsies to a fourth home league defeat in a row. No goals and no points was a familiar outcome for Bohs at Dalymount this season – but there was a glimmer of hope for Aaron Callaghan’s men with a much improved performance that could easily have yielded a draw at the very least.

Callaghan handed league debuts to recently signed duo Conor Murphy and Zein Albehadlie, but the home side still failed to find the net for the 5th home game in a row in all competitions. Indeed, the last Bohemians player to score a league goal at Dalymount Park was Chris Lyons against Bray on the 26th of April – more than two months ago, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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The opening exchanges were particularly cagey, with Callaghan’s side clearly desperate to avoid conceding yet another early goal. Iraqi full back Albehadlie’s positional sense was questioned, but the 19 year old showed some real tenacity and willingness to compete, which is going to be the key to the obvious relegation battle that the Gypsies now find themselves in. The first opportunity fell to Limerick dangerman Bossekota, whose low shot was well saved by the feet of the improving Dean Delany.

Karl Moore was outstanding for Bohs down the right flank, and he linked up well with Shane Murray to set up Bohs’ first real opportunity. Murray’s lovely floated cross found debutant Murphy, but his header from 12 yards was miscued wide. There was a break in play as referee Paul Tuite was informed that Bohs full backs Michael Barker and Albehadlie were both wearing number 22. Albehadlie was given the correct no. 20, and the Jodi Stand collectively shook their heads. Perhaps the confusion was down to the fact that Bohs were bizarrely wearing white against a team in all blue. With the team in such dire form, the iconic red and black jersey is what the players should be playing for, not a generic away strip.

Moore had Shane Tracy haunted all night until he was bizarrely switched  to the left side in the second half. He disposessed Tracy and fed a lovely pass through to Murphy who had almost too much time, sliding a tame cross into Barry Ryan’s hands. Derek Pender was playing in a midfield role, and he had a great opportunity from 18 yards. His shot stung Barry Ryan’s palms but no more. Limerick had the last opportunity before the half with Darragh Rainsford forcing another smart stop from Delany.

Moore jinked inside Tracy again on 63 minutes but his shot flew wide. Almost instantly, Galbraith’s long ball caught the Bohs defense at sixes and sevens, and Bossekota was suddenly through on goal. The French-born forward may have handled the ball to control it, but steadied himself to fire expertly past Delany. Just the kind of luck that Bohs didnt deserve.

Kevin Devaney, Dave Mulcahy and Dave Scully were thrown on to try and save the game for Bohs, and the increase in pressure started to yield results. Again, Moore was involved, setting up Murphy for a goalmouth scramble that was cleared at the last moment. Successive corners followed, with Scully and Mulcahy going close before an ill-advised short corner was lost by Keith Buckley, who had an abysmal game.

Bohs still had time for two great chances in stoppage time. First, Dave Scully did brilliantly to head a bouncing ball towards the bottom corner. It was all but in, but Barry Ryan somehow managed to stretch out a claw and deny Scully a first league goal of the season. With almost the last attack, Ryan saved brillantly with his feet as Derek Pender desparately tried to poke home an equaliser.

That’s 10 league games without a win for Bohs, who remain in the relegation play-off spot, 5 points ahead of Shelbourne having played a game more than their North Dublin rivals. Next up is a trip to title chasing Dundalk before a crucial game against Bray Wanderers in the Carlisle Grounds.

Bohemians: Dean Delany; Zein Albehadlie (Kevin Devaney, 63), Roberto Lopes, Michael Barker, Luke Byrne; Karl Moore, Shane Murray (Dave Scully, 70), Derek Pender, Keith Buckley, Darragh Reynor Dave Mulcahy, 52); Conor Murphy. Subs not used: Greg Murray; Owen Heary, Chris Lyons, Santiago Miguel Falbo.

Limerick: Barry Ryan; Shaun Kelly, Stephen Folan, Robbie Williams, Shane Tracy (Shane Costelloe, 52); Stephen Bradley (David O’Leary, 63), Joe Gamble, Danny Galbraith, Craig Curran; Darragh Rainsford, Axel Bossekota. Subs not used: Shane Cusack; Brian O’Callaghan, Barry Sheedy, James McGrath, Val Feeney.

PENDER BLUNDER LEAVES BOHS IN RELEGATION MIRE

BOHEMIANS 0 – 3 SHELBOURNE

A North Dublin Derby turned into a North Dublin Nightmare as Bohemians were thrashed at home by basement club Shelbourne in a disastrous night at Dalymount Park. The miserable weather matched the mood of the home fans at the final whistle following a crushing defeat in the last game before the mid-season break.

Derek Pender’s 32nd minute red card masked a dreadful home performance that lacked vigour, creativity and determination. All three Shelbourne goals came from poor Bohs defending. To try and put the scoreline in perspective – before tonight, the visitors had scored one away goal and collected just two points on their travels. New boss Johnny McDonnell seems to have invigorated the Tolka Park club, while this defeat is Bohs’ sixth by two goals or more at home in all competitions this season, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

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Shelbourne started the better, playing with a kind of purpose that was certainly lacking when these sides met in the first round of games. Yet again, Bohs conceded an early goal at home. After a Shels corner was cleared away, Sean Brennan picked up the ball just inside the Bohs half. He beat his first man with consumate ease, then got the benefit of a lucky ricochet off Owen Heary to suddenly find himself through on goal. Brennan kept his composure and slotted the ball past Dean Delany to send the away fans in the Des Kelly stand into wild celebration.

Despite the return of Heary, Bohs looked particularly shaky at the back. Granted, the wind was right in their faces, but a series of hoofed clearances and missed passes did little to relieve the pressure on the back four. Even when the ball did go up the other end, Dave Scully cut a forlorn figure. Keith Buckley, Karl Moore and a rather sluggish-looking Kevin Devaney offered little in the way of back-up play.

The key moment of the game came just after the half hour mark. Derek Pender had been cynically tripped five minutes earlier, and perhaps was still reeling. He lunged in on Darren Tinnelly with studs showing. For a supposedly experienced player, it was a ridiculous challenge to make at this stage of such an important game. There were howls of anger when referee Tomás Connolly produced a straight red card – but the truth is, Pender gave the referee little choice. If you lunge in recklessly with feet off the ground, you can have no arguments.

If Pender’s tackle was ridiculous, it was nothing to the shambles of Shelbourne’s second goal which came just two minutes after the red card. Owen Heary is a legendary figure, but the seven-time league winner is not beyond criticism, and his 34th minute error will rank as one of the worst of his career. Sean Brennan floated an innocuous ball into the danger area. Heary was right underneath it, and inexplicably just stepped aside and left it. Bohs fans watched – mouth-agape – as Dean Kelly gleefully nodded the ball in from just five yards. Heary seemed angry with Dean Delaney, but it was 100% the captain’s fault.

Ironically enough, Bohs actually started to play well while a man down and 2 goals down. With little to lose, they strung a few passes together before the break. Kevin Devaney half-heartedly tumbled in the box, but referee Connolly was having none of it.

The second half started poorly for the home side again. Dean Delany fired a series of goal kicks all the way out of play as Bohs struggled to judge the wind. The final nail in the coffin came on 52 minutes, and again an individual error cost the Gypsies. Luke Byrne has been Bohs best player of the season by some distance, but he was culpable for the visitors’ third. First, he stood off Philly Hughes as the big frontman brought it down and flicked it through for Kelly. Byrne was favourite to intercept the pass, but slipped and fell, allowing Kelly a clear run on goal. He clipped it brilliantly over Delany to finish the game as a contest.

The final forty minutes was difficult watching for any Bohs fan. The errors kept on coming. Byrne played a weak pass across the face of goal and Sean Brennan could have made it 4 if not for Delany’s intervention. The keeper again saved Bohs on 70 minutes when he saved well from Hughes before Mark Leech scuffed a shot from 6 yards straight at the Bohs net minder.

Referee Tomás Connolly attracted most of the ire from the Bohs fans, who seemed particularly interested in Shelbourne’s time-wasting and their moving of free kicks and throw-ins a yard or two further ahead. Surely a more important problem was Bohs’ devastating lack of creativity. Karl Moore was the only player with a little spark about him, and he won a soft penalty with 10 minutes to go. Connolly seemed to be eager to even things up (although his decision to send Pender off was a simple one). Moore tumbled over Shels keeper Niall Burdon, who seemed to get a hand on the ball. Nevertheless, Connolly pointed to the spot. Chris Lyons stepped up, and keeping with the theme of the night, struck a dreadful penalty straight at Burdon’s legs.

The mid-season break sees Bohs level on points with UCD in the relegation play-off spot. Shelbourne, in the automatic relegation spot, are now just 5 points behind the Gypsies. Bohs are without a win in their last 8 games, and have only scored 13 goals in 17 league games. Before the game, Aaron Callaghan talked about bringing in two or three players in the transfer window. Aftre this result, there is no doubt that the squad needs strengthening if the Gypsies are to avoid a proper scrap to avoid the drop.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Owen Heary, Roberto Lopes (Ciaran Nangle, 14), Luke Byrne, Karl Moore, Ryan McEvoy, Dave Mulcahy (Stephen Traynor, 56), Keith Buckley, Kevin Devaney (Chris Lyons, 73), Dave Scully. Subs not used: Greg Murray, Shane Murray, Michael Scott, Michael Barker.

Shelbourne: Niall Burdon, Jack Memery (Brian Shortall, 78), Graham Gartland, Ian Ryan, Darren Tinnelly, Glenn Cronin, Sean Brennan, Stephen Hurley, Pat Flynn, Dean Kelly (Mark Leech, 66), Philip Hughes (Gareth O’Connor, 87). Subs not used: Adam Hanlon, Ger Hanley, Craig Mooney, Jake Donnelly.

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