Stephen Traynor nets the Gypsies' opener. Pic: A. Baldiemann


Jason Byrne grabbed the first goal of his second coming in a Bohemians shirt to see off Leinster Senior League side Tolka Rovers at IT Blanchardstown on Monday night. The Tallaght man’s clinical far post volley proved to be the winner in a fiercely-fought contest on the lush astro-turf in West Dublin.

Bohs boss Owen Heary will have been pleased by the application and determination of the opposition, who provided a well-organised test for his match-starved side. Following the cancellation of games against Bray Wanderers and Sandyhill / Shangan, this was just the second time the Gypsies completed the full 90 minutes in the 2014 pre-season programme, writes KEVIN FAGAN.


The wind and rain kept the crowd low, but those who did turn out got to see new signing Steven Beattie operate with menace from the right flank. The former Northern Kentucky University star looked extremely sharp from the outset, and shone alongside Jack Memery, Aidan Price, and Jason Byrne as the 4 new / returning faces in the starting line-up. Beattie and Byrne linked up for the first shot of the night, but record-chasing Byrne’s curling effort was deflected over on 5 minutes. Midfielder Darragh Reynor will be looking for more game time this season, and he forced an unorthodox save from Tolka ‘keeper Gavin Brown in what was the only other Bohs effort in a tight opening half hour.

Bohs had the ball in the net on 33 minutes, but Dinny Corcoran’s header was ruled out by Rhona Daly, who correctly adjudged that Aidan Price was climbing all over Tolka’s John Brophy. Centre half Brophy was in action again just two minutes later when he headed against his own post under pressure from Jason Byrne. From the resulting corner, Roberto Lopes hit the opposite post with a towering header. The Gypsies were well on top at this stage, and got a deserved opening goal with three minutes to go before half time.  Captain Derek Pender played a crisp one-two with Beattie down the right hand side, out-muscled his full-back opponent, and pulled a by-line cross to the onrushing Stephen Traynor, who scooped the ball past Brown from close range.

Although Heary would have been happy to have the lead, he looked for more creativity in the second half, and his side responded almost immediately. A pinpoint cross-field ball from left full Jack Memery found right winger Steven Beattie, who showed a burst of real pace to beat his man on the inside before unleashing a strong left-footed shot that Brown could only parry for a corner. Beattie was hitting his stride and found himself in behind 5 minutes later when Dinny Corcoran slipped him in. His pulled-back cross was perfect for Byrne, but the veteran’s dragged effort was disappointing for a finisher of his high standards.

On the opposite flank, Andy Mulligan got in on the creative act with a lovely cross that Corcoran headed wide before Tolka scored a very fine equalizer against the run of play. The hour mark had just arrived when Luke Kelly found himself with space, and he spliced the Bohs defence apart with a delicious through ball for Shane Hughes, who finished neatly past the onrushing Dean Delany. Bohs resumed their attacking threat from the right almost at once, with a Pender cross and Corcoran lay-off paving the way for Reynor to hit the angle of post and bar with an 18-yard effort. The offensive triangle of Byrne, Corcoran and Beattie combined in the best move of the match on 63 minutes, but Corcoran’s eventual shot was well saved by Brown in the Tolka goal.

Beattie made way for Keith Buckley before Bohs got the lead goal on 67 minutes. Mulligan was clattered by Aaron Henderson, which set up a free-kick about 35 yards out on the left flank. Reynor’s left-footed cross soared all the way to the back post, where the ever-lurking, always-predatory Jason Byrne was waiting. His first-time volley was the classiest piece of skill in the entire 90 minutes, nestled in the far corner, and proved to be the winner.

It wasn’t the last piece of action however, as Tolka Rovers were awarded a penalty in the 71st minute. Substitute Ryan McEvoy tangled with the onrushing Carl Somers, and referee Rhona Daly pointed to the spot. The penalty was particularly soft – the most dangerous thing about McEvoy’s challenge was the Bohs man’s beard. Tolka goalscorer Shane Hughed stepped up, but his penalty was well-saved by the knee of Delany.

Heary emptied his bench in the last 20 minutes to give much-needed game time to Dave Mulcahy, Anto Murphy, Craig Walsh, Paddy Collins, and another Monday afternoon signing, Philip McCabe. The game petered out with no more incidents to report. Next up for Bohs is a tie with local rivals Shelbourne on Friday evening. Two weeks from that night, the league campaign gets under way. It’s getting close.

Bohemians: Dean Delany, Derek Pender, Roberto Lopes, Aidan Price, Jack Memery (Philip McCabe, 72), Steven Beattie (Keith Buckley, 63), Darragh Reynor (Craig Walsh, 68), Stephen Traynor (Ryan McEvoy, 68), Andy Mulligan, Dinny Corcoran (Paddy Collins, 74), Jason Byrne (Dave Mulcahy, 74).

Tolka Rovers: Gavin Brown, Derek Swan, Aaron Henderson, Niall O’Reilly, John Brophy, Wayne Byrne, Dennis Moran, Brian Fitzpatrick, David Somers, Carl Somers, Luke Kelly. Substitutes: Shane Hughes, Tony Collins, Eamon Moylan, Sean Kelly, Paul Fitzpatrick, Robert Keegan.

Referee: Rhona Daly

Pic by A. Baldiemann: Stephen Traynor scoops home Bohs’ opener.

Website by Simon Alcock