FAI Cup, General football, Ireland, Keith Long

Perception is not often reality

“We haven’t had a cup run at all in my time here. I’m pleased tonight that we’ve won, the attitude of the players was spot on, we’d like to enjoy tonight and next week look forward to the Rovers game,” beamed Bohs boss, Keith Long after their seven-nil annihilation of Wexford at Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night.

Having negotiated the first hurdle of the FAI Cup with relative ease, Bohs now go on to pit their wits away against First Division Galway – a team they knocked out of this competition in 2016. Premier Division Bohs will be favourites to advance to next month’s quarter-finals.

Hitting form

Standing in a now-near-empty and dimly-light Ferrycarrig Park, Long admits, “Our form since the break has been very good, except for the Sligo game. We went down to Waterford and drew 1-1 and should have won. We had beaten Pat’s the week before, so that’s been the only blip on our copy book since the break. Then we scored eighteen goals in the last four games and conceded two. I’ve said to the players, we’ve got to have that level of consistency, week in, week out, because I believe in them.” Prior to the League of Ireland summer break, goal-shy Bohs only averaged less than a goal a game.

Wing trickery

Their new-found ruthlessness in front of goal – albeit against sides ranked inferior – has seen them rack-up six, five and seven without reply in recent weeks. That is thanks in no small part to the implosion at Bray Wanderers, resulting in the arrival of tricky right winger Daniel Kelly to Bohs, coupled with the new-found confidence and directness of Kevin Devaney on the opposite wing. Older heads like Karl Moore, Paddy Kavanagh and Philly Gannon have moved on due to restricted first team opportunities, resulting in speedier attacks and a new-found incisiveness.

Philosophy

Others have blossomed too, youngsters Grant, Kirk, Lyons and Mageruson have come into the first team from the under-19s and haven’t been found wanting. All good for competition, as Long points out. “We’re building at the club. The philosophy – call it that if you will – is to promote the best young players. I think we’ve got quite a number of them throughout the club, our under-19 team are strong, so we’ve got lots of players who are ready to come in. It creates that environment and culture where there’s lots of competition for places, so it has been really good, but it has been built up over a period of time, it hasn’t just happened. It’s long hours of hard work with the players, recruiting and identifying the right kind of players and creating an environment that is good and the culture is rich in the club at the moment.”

Smallest budget – people don’t want to hear that

Generally, the promotion of youth is down to restricted finances, or under-performance. Bohs are no different, as consistency levels have seen them struggling and teetering above the relegation play-off spot for much of the season.

“Our league form – the consistency levels – need to improve and I believe some of the performances we’ve put in this season deserve more and the league table at this stage doesn’t lie, so it is what it is. People on the outside view Bohs as a big club, which it is, it is a big club with big history, but we’re operating off the smallest budget in this league. Fact. People don’t want to hear that, I’ve said that now for quite a number of years, but we’re doing well, we are boxing above our weight, year-on-year we’re doing really well and I think people should realise that we’re a part-time group and we’re giving an honest effort and we work extremely hard at our jobs at the club and it’s down to other people what they perceive, but perception is not often reality.”

Supporters want success

Past money-issues still linger fresh in the mind around Dalymount Park – an asset Bohs lost in property speculation only a few years ago. Long stressed, “Obviously we’d like to move things forward, but it can’t be at the detriment to the health of the club, which in the past – that situation has led us to where we are now – the overspending and so-on. We’re living with that, we are coping with it, we are doing our very, very best with the limited resources that we have. There are lots of good people at the club. There are lots of volunteers who give their time for the club, we are appreciative of all of that, but ultimately, I think our supporters want a little bit of success, they want to see us kick-on, but that takes finances, that takes resources, that takes a lot of different things coming together all at once.”

Different animal

Before leaving to return to the dressing room, Long adds, “I’m pleased tonight that we’ve won, the attitude of the players was spot on, we’d like to enjoy tonight and look forward to the Rovers game – we know it will be a much different animal next week”.

It is highly unlikely that Rovers will become the latest recipients of a Bohs mauling, due to the congested nature of this derby fixture, however, if the animal instincts of Long’s young group kick-in they may go for the kill from the off.

Andy Donlan.

Cover photograph – Stephen Burke

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FAI Cup, General football, Ireland, League of Ireland, Stephen Kenny, UEFA Cup

Stephen Kenny reveals he was asked to sign his successor at Bohs

Friday 28 July 2004 marks a strange anniversary of sorts. On this day, 13 years ago, Stephen Kenny was sacked as manager of Bohemian Football Club, following their elimination from the UEFA Cup at the hands of Levadia Tallinn. Kenny recently made a startling revelation about the circumstances in the lead up to the tie and ultimately his departure from the club.

Earlier this year, he sat down with Eamon Dunphy for a revealing, in-depth and at times emotional interview for, The Stand. During the interview, Kenny revealed. “At the time, I got asked… I sorta never revealed this. It was suggested to me that I sign Gareth Farrelly – who played with Everton and Bolton – just to play in the European game.”

Mixed success

During Kenny’s period at Bohemians, the club had achieved mixed success in their battle with Shelbourne to establish themselves as top dog. He and the club invested heavily in top players in a bid to re-invigorate the club after the indifferent tenure of Pete Mahon, following the euphoria of the Roddy Collins era in Phibsborough. Kenny’s reign yielded the league title in 2002/03 – at the home of the champions – a famous European victory over Bate Borisov, but also crushing defeats to an already relegated Dundalk in 2002 FAI Cup final and to Levadia Tallinn in the UEFA Cup first qualifying round.

In the UEFA Cup tie, Bohs were expected to progress, having blasted their way past similar opposition in Bate Borisov in the previous years’ Champions League. They had also comfortably seen-off Levadia at the same stage in the Champions League qualifiers in 2001 – when they were named Levadia Maardu. In addition, Bohs had secured a solid first leg goalless draw in Tallinn. Although strangely, Ken Oman, who produced a commanding man of the match performance at the heart of the Bohs defence in that draw, completed the second leg as an unused substitute, whilst Colin Hawkins, who missed the first leg through injury, started at centre half.

Levadia, having weathered a Bohs storm, hit on the counter-attack and ruthless punished Hawkins’ lack of sharpness, rounding out a 3-1 victory in Dublin. Bohs had never lead in the tie. The catastrophic collapse – from the first leg to the second – marked the only time a League of Ireland side had succumbed to Estonian opposition, in the five ties and ten games to-date.

That went against everything I was about

On the build-up to the tie, Kenny went on to reveal his response to the suggestion of signing and playing Farrelly. “Well, I said, ‘This team had won the league for me and I’ve got really good players here who’ve won everything, winning the league and doing really well’. They said he’s not going to play in the league, if you just sign him for those couple of games, you know? That went against everything I was about really. I said, ‘I wasn’t going to do that’. So we lost the game and they made Gareth manager. That’s what happened really, Gareth came in as manager immediately after that.”

In fact, it was one month later when Farrelly took the reins, after caretaker, Gary Howlett had guided Bohs to two league draws and an FAI Cup third round exit to Kildare County. Farrelly watched his first game from the stands, as Bohs trailed arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers 0-1 at half time in Dalymount. Farrelly’s inspired team talk saw his team rip into Rovers, twice breaching their rearguard in the first three minutes of the second half, eventually running out 3-2 victors.

Farrelly, 28, was far and away the league’s youngest manager at the time. Stephen Kenny, ironically, holds the record for being the league’s youngest manager, when he took over at Longford Town, aged 26.

Forgettable period

In the main, Farrelly’s period at Bohs was a forgettable one, for footballing and off-the-pitch reasons. It was blighted by cut-backs to the playing budget, a point’s deduction for fielding a suspended player, the release of top-scorer Dominic Foley in dispute over payment and towards the end, divisive supporter protests.

Thus, two years and two days after the ecstasy of that 3-2 victory over Shamrock Rovers, Farrelly suffered the indignity of missing a penalty at a crucial stage of an FAI Cup replay at home to the same opposition – who were then a First Division club. Bohs and Farrelly parted ways the following day.

Decline

Stephen Kenny’s exit had marked the beginning of the decline of Bohemian Football Club, although Pat Fenlon’s trophy-laden four-year spell re-invigorated the club, it was all built on a mountain of debt and tied-up in a property deal, which collapsed in the economic downturn. In 2015, Bohs finally resolved major debt issues, sold Dalymount Park to Dublin City Council and unveiled a five-year strategic plan, placing the club back at the heart of her surrounding communities.

Stephen Kenny who had refused to comprise on his guiding principles when asked to parachute Farrelly into the team for the big European games, may have lost out in 2004. However, those uncompromising, core footballing principles brought him unparalleled success with Dundalk in bigger European games, twelve years later. He may find it tough to talk about now, but that incident laid the foundations for subsequent success and deserved praise from all quarters.

Andy Donlan

Listen to Eamon Dunphy’s fascinating interview on Stephen Kenny’s career to-date, in its entirety on SoundCloud.

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FAI Cup

Seagulls A Bridge Too Far For United

Bray Wanderers 2-0 Killester United (Douglas 7’, Scully 58’)

Bray overcame non-league Killester United to advance to the semi-finals of the FAI Cup at a rain-swept Carlisle Grounds. For the second round in a row, Bray scored early in the game and eliminated a team in red n’ black stripes. This time however, there was no lineman’s flag to aid their progress – after the awarding of a controversial goal which knocked out Bohemians in the previous round. Some may have believed that Killester required divine inspiration to advance in this tie, against a Premier Division side hitting their peak. Indeed the Cross of Saint Brigid adorns the Killester United crest – St. Brigid was famed for the many miracles it was claimed she performed. No such inspiration was required tonight as the non-leagues matched their hosts in every department, bar the finishing. The axis of Lacey and Keogh were a constant threat to the Bray defence, however they came up short in a match played in the driving rain atop a greasy surface.

It was Bray Wanderers who got off to the better start and they went ahead from a corner after 7 minutes. Powerful defender Hugh Douglas shot into the box and his bullet header bulged the back of the net from 6 yards out to kill the early Killester spirit. It was the first goal that Killester United had conceded in this season’s competition. Bray threatened again from a set piece on 23, but Alan McNally’s header was wide.

The next clear chance was to come to non-league Killester as they edged their way back into this keenly fought contest. The impressive Michael Keogh struck the butt of the post from the edge of the area, but Lacey fired the rebound straight at goalkeeper, Peter Cherrie when he should have done better. Indeed it was Lacey who was centre to the game’s next big opening after 37 minutes. Having been slipped through 1-on-1 with Cherrie, the striker pulled the trigger, but the Scottish stopper saved well with his legs. It was Lacey who nearly made it through on goal again, though the threaded ball, bound for his feet was expertly blocked by Cooney’s sliding leg on the slick surface.

Killester squandered two glorious opportunities after the break before David Scully gave the hosts the insurance goal, turning home David Cassidy’s cross at the far post. Before that Alan Talbot rifled over when through 1-on-1 with Cherrie and the impressive Lacey had his goal-bound shot blocked from his attempt inside the area. There were further chances for both sides after that, as Lyons glazed United’s crossbar on 69, while Lacey stung Cherrie’s hands on 84. United ‘keeper, Keith Donoghue tipped over from Cassidy’s superb lob and saved well in Onwubiko’s 1-on-1 chance in injury time, as Bray’s superior fitness began to tell.

So Bray Wanderers advanced to the semi-finals, but they were made to work hard for the privilege. The Wicklow side will now pray for a kind draw on Monday and dream about emulating 1990 and 1999’s cup glory years, whilst Killester will wonder what might have been.

Bray Wanderers: Cherrie; Barker; Cooney; Douglas; McNally; Cassidy; Kelly; McEvoy; McGlynn; Lyons (Wixted 89’); Scully (Onwubiko 82’).
Subs not used: Fogarty; Gallagher; McDonagh; Mitchell; O’Reilly.

Killester United: Donoghue; McCormack; Kelly (Matthews 72’); Kavanagh; Hand; O’Reilly; Keogh; Chambers (Mooney 79’); Browning; Talbot (Lee 68’); Lacey.
Subs not used: O’Driscoll; McDonald; Farrell; Whelan.

Irish Daily Mail Man of the Match: Hugh Douglas

Attendance: 700 (estimate)

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FAI Cup

Harps ease through Cup exam

Belgrove/Home Farm FC 0-1 Finn Harps (McCann 8′)

The outcome of this Ford FAI Cup second round tie, set in the leafy suburbs of Glasnevin, was settled by a harsh decision after 18 minutes. Referee, Simon Rogers, following what looked to be a full blooded 50/50 challenge between Belgrove/Home Farm’s Conor O’Keeffe and Finn Harps’ Ciaran Coll, produced the first card of the game – a straight red – for the Belgrove’s O’Keeffe. Coll easily returned to his feet once the referee had dealt with furious Belgrove/Home Farm protestations. Rogers made several other questionable decisions in the game and one wonders what might have been for the non-league outfit, had they had their full complement for 90 minutes. Ten minutes before that drama the alert Pat McCann took his chance when played in by Kevin McHugh to give Finn Harps the lead, coolly slotting under the advancing Andrew Jones in the home goal.
Due to the state of their home surface at Whitehall, this match was hosted at the compact Frank Cooke Park, which is bordered on one side by a clutch of mature Evergreen trees. It was the evergreen Kevin McHugh though who came into bloom and was at the heart of everything good for Finn Harps, as he looked to exploit their numerical advantage. Finn Harps had most of the play in the first half, with captain McHugh constantly finding space and creating chances, but Harps failed to really extend the home goalkeeper. And when McHugh might have tested Jones, the hard working Belgrove players deflected his on-target free kick wide, as Harps looked to press home their advantage.
There was a lively start to the second period as both teams had opportunities. On 47, Ruri Keating raced through for Finn Harps, however he slipped his shot wide of the post. Conor Winn in the visitors’ goal was finally tested a minute later but he was comfortably equal to Darren Rogers’ effort. Incidentally, Winn only played as regular ‘keeper, Shaun Patton was sitting his Leaving Certificate exams.
A couple of Kevin McHugh snap shots followed in the preceding ten minutes, but neither threatened Jones. In a rare foray into the Finn Harps half on 58 minutes, Eoin Mooney – who was switched from right midfield to the right side of a back three after the dismal – looked to find the unmarked Rogers with a measured cross. However the colossal Packie Mailey snuffed out the danger and headed clear. Indeed it was Mooney who got on the on the end of a long Belgrove free kick in the 92nd minute as the non-leaguers threw everyone into the box. His slight figure rose to knock down a header for Warren Taylor, but the ball wouldn’t fall for the Belgrove captain, although the excellent Mooney looked to have been pushed in the back. Referee, Rogers wasn’t interested. Ironically the referee was to get the next decision wrong, this time in favour of the home side. As Harps cleared up-field from the free kick, the busy Ruri Keating ran clear through only to be fouled by Belgrove’s last man. Somehow referee Rogers awarded a free against Keating, but it wasn’t to matter, as the final whistle was blown just moments later.
It’s worth noting, the last time Finn Harps met Belgrove, they reached the FAI Cup final in 1999. Their loyal travelling fans leaving Dublin tonight will no doubt be dreaming of a return visit on 02 November.

Belgrove/Home Farm: Jones, O’Keeffe, McGuinness, Taylor, Smith, Doran, Mooney, Hussey (Drew 65′), Rogers (Bell 65′), Yeats, O’Dwyer (Behan 77′).

Finn Harps: Winn, C.Bonner, Coll, Cowan, Mailey, McNulty (Forker 56′), Fisher (Tiofack 79′), McCann, Keating, McHugh, Harkin (Black 88′).

FAI Ford Cup man of the match: Pat McCann (Finn Harps).

Attendance: 100 (estimate).

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