Thursday, 25 May 2017

23/05/17 Review: Bohemian vs Limerick

Bohemian 1-2 Limerick (Irish Premier League)
Dalymount Park

With Summer just around the corner and most of the 2016/17 action finished with in England, Wales and Scotland, I was ending my season with four late May games in London, Dublin and Solihull. On Sunday I visited the iconic Wembley Stadium for Non-League Finals Day, of which this year I will not be writing an entry for due to the heartbreak and mass amount of pints suffered following my beloved Macclesfield Town's 2-3 defeat to York City in the Trophy Final. I contemplated doing a mini write-up on the Vase match that came beforehand as South Shields eventually walked over Cleethorpes Town in a 4-0 victory, but I decided to just enjoy the game with some of my best mates instead of having to worry about getting a backlog of Blog entries to do. And so with that I was left to focus on my city break to Dublin with my girlfriend, which would include a Tuesday night excursion to Dublin's oldest football ground- Dalymount Park.

Just look at it!
Awaking to a full-on Irish heatwave, the day was spent outside of the hustle and bustle of the city as we headed out to the glorious valley of Glendalough to walk many a mile across the most beautiful part of the world I have had the pleasure of exploring to date.

Glendalough and Dalymount in one day, that'll do
By the time we'd made it back to Dublin to grab a pizza and a couple of beers, it was time to jump on another bus as we headed north of the Liffey towards Phibsborough in search of some less-touristy activity. We jumped off the 46a with just moments to spare, before following the folk dressed in red down the thinning alleyway which would soon lead us to the doors of the "Home of Irish Football" and the 7:45pm kick-off of Bohemian's League game with Limerick. Before the start of this match, there was a one point difference between the two sides with the hosts sitting in 7th after an impressive away win at high-flying Bray Wanderers, meanwhile Limerick were in 6th and would be looking to bounce-back from a 3-0 drubbing against Champions Dundalk, who I had seen at the end of last season in a highly-memorable title-winning tie. Both teams would be confident and hoping for a win tonight at Dalymount, and therefore I had predicted a draw for this tie.

A fair few in attendance
Having opened its doors in 1901, this historic landmark is into the final of its 116 year life as an active football ground which has featured some amazing games over the past century at club and international level alike. Back in 1998 Dalymount hosted the last of its twenty Cup Finals and on an international scale there have been many fond memories too. In 1983 the ground was still being used for competitive games, as the likes of the Netherlands and Malta visited for their 1984 EURO Qualifiers. In 1972 France lost 2-1 here in a World Cup Qualifier and in 1990 the national side turned out a 1-0 victory in a friendly versus Morocco in what was the final outing for the boys in green at Bohemian's current home. Today's tie would be a far less famous game in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn't mean to say that I wasn't excited to be back in Ireland for the second time within seven months. Although the standard of football is higher in the Republic, the feeling I got from being in and around the ground was more like that gained when I visited Cliftonville's Solitude. As well as the ground being the oldest in its respective Capital, it being located in the north of the city and also home to a team playing in red, the grounds had a similar look from outside and of course both now have condemned areas inside which are merely there for Groundhoppers like me to take pictures of.

Would've loved to see this full in the 80's
We took our seats in the Jodi Stand, which contained all of today's fans from both sides, and after a well-observed minute of silence for the victims of the Manchester travesty on Monday night we were under way. The first memorable moment for me was to hear the Limerick travelling fans out in full-force as they began proceedings with the chants of vigorous support towards the lads that they had travelled for over 200 kilometres to see. On the pitch, the first real chance did not come until Brazilian veteran Rodrigo Tosi had a dig deflected wide. The 34-year old journeyman, who has formally played in his native country for Joinville, as well as in Singapore, Greece, Switzerland, Iran and Indonesia over the years, is currently enjoying success in his first season in the South of Ireland and he certainly looked to be a danger to the Bohs defenders as he dominated with his physical-style both on the floor and in the air. After threatening the home keeper a couple more times with a header and a long-range strike, he finally got the opening goal on the quarter-hour mark. A free-kick was placed into the area and the target man leaped above everybody else to nod the ball over the keeper and into the goal. Bohemian 0-1 Limerick. Having looked far superior so far, Limerick's fans were thrilled to take the lead and a couple of them even ran on to the pitch to celebrate with the lads. The slow-reacting elderly stewards eventually took to the pitch and forcefully evacuated the over-excited fans before the game restarted.

Up to the hosts to give it a go now
After conceding the opener, Bohemian finally started to play a bit of football themselves and credit must go to them for reacting so well to letting the first goal in. Young-winger George Poynton looked great out on the right for the hosts and he was only denied a couple of chances to run at the Super Blues defence by his team-mate's often wayward passes out to him. Alas, he kept on going and would soon enough get his reward. In what was the first meaningful attack for the home-side in the "tirty-first" minute, a run down the left-wing from Keith Ward eventually came across to Georgie who finished with a tidy strike. Bohemian 1-1 Limerick. From here on in until half-time the Bohs looked much the better side and their play had also silenced the Limerick travellers. Unbelievably I looked at my watch to see that it was almost half-time, and so I headed off to the toilet in anticipation of standing in the inevitable queues that would bound to be upon us for the bar.
Which way to the Bar?
After our trip to party-hard Dundalk, we were thankful to actually be able to get into one of the two bars inside the ground and we took advantage of a swift pint before going back out for the second-half. Needless to say that the bar was crammed and vibrant, with many pictures and plaques around showing off the club's history- including the very proud 2008 League and Cup double, as well as other images of European nights and of course a row of items received from visiting clubs from the UK and the rest of Europe. Back outside the game was underway again and we followed the hoards back out to pitch-side to see if the hosts could nick it after an encouraging end to the first 45. Before sitting down, I popped over to grab a couple of snaps of the aged terracing behind the goal and it was there that I got chatting to one of the aforementioned stewards. He was telling me how he used to stand in that terrace when it was packed out on European nights and how the ground would bounce as the chants rang out in unison for the rival matches against Shamrock Rovers and Shelbourne- what a time to be alive!

Those days are long gone, unfortunately
There wasn't too much in the way of chances in the opening exchanges of the second-half, with Lorcan Fitzgerald booting a volley over the bar being about the only highlight amongst a 50/50 game. Keith Ward, who'd assisted the opener, carried on showing sparks of greatness and on 70 minutes I thought he'd put it on a plate for the third goal of the night. He turned former Accrington Stanley midfielder Bastien Hery inside-out before shimmying past another player and hitting a low cross into the mix. As both Dinny Corcoron and Paddy Kavanagh dived in to try and latch on to the ball, a brave Freddy Hall in the Limerick goal dived out and punched the ball out of reach to deny a goal. The ex-Toronto and Telford shot-stopper, who is also a Bermuda international, did very well there and in my opinion made a crucial contribution at a pivotal time in the game and as if that wasn't enough, he then got up on his feet to attend to one of his injured defenders before carrying him partially towards the tunnel before St John Ambulance staff took over. With just ten minutes to go now, I have not yet mentioned the man who would prove to be the hero for Limerick- Chiedozie Ogbene. A couple of times in the latter-stages of the match, the never-tiring youngster had been ridiculed by the home crowd after taking a dramatic tumble over some hefty challenges, but the booing from the sidelines only seemed to rile him up to pull out some dangerous moves as his opponents tired. On the 80th minute, Tosi found himself in a position where he was able to pick out the Limerick number 21 and his header seemed to hang in the air for hours before eventually looping in off Dan Byrne for an own goal that would cause fury amongst the home faithful. Bohemian 1-2 Limerick. Although there was to be no more in the way of goals, the match hardly fizzled out. As injury-time was signalled Bohemian threw everything at Limerick and looked for an equaliser, only to then be hit on the counter by that man Ogbene. As he ran away from the fatigued right-back Dylan Hayes, there was only one option for the player- make a horrendous last-ditched crunching tackle on him and take the punishment of a straight red! Deep down, I think that had that been another player he may have dug deep to try and get back, but as it was the villainous winger, he thought he'd take out the home side's frustrations and give him something to jump on the floor for.
The travelling fans could see the light at the end of the tunnel
Despite having ten men, Bohemians had one last chance and it would be after another bad tackle from the away side's defence that should have arguably seen red too. Unfortunately for the free-kick taker, his 25-yard strike didn't test Hall and that would be enough to see Limerick take the three points and open-up a four point lead between them and the Bohs. We departed shortly after the whistle in seek of some Dublin nightlife, but our rush to leave was not due to disappointment. A great game in a historical venue in-front of friendly, passionate fans is all that I could hope for from my second ROI Premier League game. At the bus stop, I got chatting to a Galway United fan who told me to get myself down to the Eamonn Deacy next time I'm over to see how they do it. He then went on to say that I should also check out Shamrock's Tallaght Stadium as well as Turner's Cross, the home of runaway unbeaten side Cork City. It looks like I've got a few more trips to make over to Ireland then!

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