Bohemians, General football, League of Ireland, SSE Airtricity League

“I heard the crack at the time, so I knew it was a bad one”

Dinny Corcoran’s season was said to be over in May, however, he is plotting a return before the end of the season to fire Bohs into Europe for the first time since 2012.

The Bohemians striker cut a lonely figure when crumpled on the Dalymount turf, 13 minutes into a league game with Sligo. Having fractured a bone in his foot, he left the field on a stretcher after a lengthy treatment delay, hugging an oxygen tank. “I actually heard the crack at the time, so I knew it was a bad one. It wasn’t even that painful, I just knew it was going to be a lengthy one”.

Heartbreaker

Corcoran revealed the often under-discussed psychological aspect of a long-term injury. “It was more upsetting than anything else. I knew I’d be out for a while. Obviously at the time I didn’t know the extent of the injury or how long I’d be out for, but I knew it was going to be quite lengthy. It was heartbreaker, but look, that’s football, these things happen. I’m feeling good now.”

No doubt he had plenty to take his mind off the injury. Having appeared on hit daytime television show, Countdown earlier in the year, Corcoran would find himself with ample conundrum time during his slow rehabilitation. “The first six weeks was tough. I couldn’t do anything to be honest with you. I was in a boot, I was on crutches, I couldn’t drive. I was basically stuck to my couch for six weeks. I could do a bit of upper body in the gym but that’s kind of hard on the head mentally to stay motivated.”

Strength and conditioning

Six weeks before Corcoran’s injury, Bohs lost a key member of their backroom team, when Strength and Conditioning coach, Graham Norton, left to join Dundalk. The Gypsies brought in Remy Tang as a replacement, who had worked at Glasgow Celtic and the English FA and Liverpool youth setups. Corcoran admitted the loss of Norton was a surprise. “It was a bit of a shock to be honest. It came all of a sudden. Graham was very good. He obviously got a good offer at Dundalk, the champions of Ireland, which would be a hard one to turn down. Remy Tang has come in and done very well, he has impressed me a lot, he has filled Graham’s shoes.”

St Pat’s return

With three matches still to go and the race for Europe looking like it will go right down to the wire, Bohs, Derry and St. Pat’s battle it out for the two places on offer. Corcoran is out of contract at the end of the season and is sure to have many suitors. However, his immediate plan is to play again this season, despite being written off. “The last month or two have been good, I’ve enjoyed it being able to run again. It’s not 100% yet, but I’m hoping to maybe set a target for the Pat’s game, so hopefully I’ll feature.” On his immediate future, he hopes to hang around Dalymount too. “I’m hoping that I can get back for a game or two, prove myself and hopefully stay for another year at least.”

The countdown to Dinny Corcoran’s comeback is underway, however, with his contract due to expire in November, it will be more than the Bohemians supporters with a keen eye on the striker’s return.

Andy Donlan.

Cover photograph – Stephen Burke

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General football, Ireland, League of Ireland, SSE Airtricity League

Dundalk return to league summit

Dundalk 2-0 Bohemians (Hoare 31’, Hoban (pen.) 51’)

Dundalk advanced to the summit of the SSE Airtricity League after a comfortable win over Bohemians at Oriel Park. Having led through Sean Hoare’s header at the break, Dundalk stepped up a gear in the second half and only thanks to the brilliance of Shane Supple in the Bohs goal, this would have been a more comfortable win. In the end, they could only add one second half strike – a debatable penalty – through Patrick Hoban.

The contrasting fortunes of these sides leaves Bohs to lick their wounds and prepare for Friday’s relegation six-pointer with Limerick, whilst Dundalk jet off to sunny-Cyprus to prepare for Thursday’s Europa League qualification clash with AEK Larnaca.

Bohs didn’t make it easy for the Champions in the opening half, with new singing Daniel Kelly proving a constant menace, although they needed net-minder, Shane Supple in inspired form after the break, keeping out Benson, Kelly and Hoban twice.

Bohemians made two changes from last week’s in 6-0 hammering of Bray Wanderers, with Oscar Brennan and Ian Morris in for Ward and Cornwall. Dundalk made one change from their Europa League stalemate with AEK, as Jarvis replaced Massey at full back.

The first half was a nip and tuck affair with Dundalk uncharacteristically off-colour in their play, however, they took the lead after thirty-one minutes. Green right fullback, Andy Lyons – in for his second consecutive start, replacing the suspended Derek Pender – conceded a corner to Duffy down the left. Winger, Michael Duffy sent in the corner, which Sean Hoare rose highest to meet and nod to the net to give Dundalk the lead.

With the words from Stephen Kenny’s half time team talk still ringing in their ears, Dundalk came out a different side after the break. They added their second through a soft penalty after Casey was harshly adjudged to have fouled Jarvis after his neat interplay with Duffy down the left. Back in March, Dundalk beat Bohemians 3-0 at this venue and just as it was then, Hoban scored the resulting penalty from a Casey foul – sending Supple the wrong way once again.

The busy Supple made two further saves to deny Hoban, before extinguishing a shot from Benson on seventy minutes. Both managers tried to freshen things up from the bench and it was one of Bohemians’ substitutes, Keith Ward who almost got his side back into the game. His shot on eighty-eight minutes hit the inside of the post. Then, after the ball was cleared and sent back in by fellow substitute, Danny Grant, Ward shot past Rogers, but captain Brian Gartland was back to clear off the line.

Supple again thwarted Dundalk two minutes later, when he saved one-on-one from Georgie Kelly, but it’s Dundalk who go to Cyprus in high spirits, whilst Bohs must pick themselves up for Friday’s relegation battle at Dalymount.

Dundalk: Rogers; Cleary, Gartland, Hoare, Jarvis; Connolly (McEleney 59’), Shields, Benson (Chvedukas 75’), Duffy; McGrath; Hoban (Kelly 85’).
Subs not used: Sava; Mountney; Massey; Murray.

Bohemians: Supple; Lyons, Morris, Casey, Leahy; Kelly, Buckley, Brennan (Byrne 56’), Lunney (Ward 59’), Devaney; Corcoran (Grant 75’).
Subs not used: Bohan; Kavanagh; Kirk; Stokes.

Attendance: 3,139

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Ireland in the Mini World Cup in Brazil, 1972
Brazilian Independence Cup 1972, General football, Ireland, Minicopa, Republic of Ireland football team

Ireland in the 1972 Mini World Cup

“It was an unbelievable experience”, describes Turlough O’Connor.

It might be stretching it slightly to say that Ireland’s maiden World Cup victory actually came 18 years before that shoot-out victory against Romania at Italia ’90. But in the summer of 1972 the Republic of Ireland contested the Minicopa (or Mini World Cup/Brazilian Independence Cup) in Brazil. Organisers secured over one quarter of the teams who competed in the previous World Cup for this tournament, which marked 150 years of Brazilian Independence from Portugal. Striker Turlough O’Connor was in between a move from Dundalk back to Bohemians – who he had made his name with previously, earning his cross channel move to Fulham – when he was paid a visit by then Ireland boss, Liam Tuohy.

Call-up
“I’ll never forget the call-up. I came around the corner at home and my daughter, Niamh – only 2 at the time – had walked around from our home in Ardmore Drive and there sitting on the wall with my wife was Liam Tuohy. He asked, ‘How would you be fixed to come to Brazil?’ But it was for 3 weeks. Suddenly I was working around in my head whether I’ll be able to get time off work or not.” He’d secure the time off work to join the likes of: Ray Treacy; Joe Kinnear; Alan Kelly; Mick Leech; Don Givens and Paddy Mulligan, in a strong but small Irish squad on the plane to Brazil.
Ireland got their campaign off to a flier in Recife – where they’d play 3 of their 4 games – defeating Asian representatives, Iran, 2-1. Although it could have been a disastrous start for Ireland before a ball was even kicked. The pre-match national anthems were shelved just before kick-off, when it was discovered the music the band were intending to play was that of, God Save the Queen. Bloody Sunday had occurred in Derry that January.

Hope
Next it was onto Natal – a coastal city – which sits just over 600 km south of the equator – for the mid-June clash with Ecuador. O’Connor describes a bleak scene in the northern city. “In ’72 in Brazil in that northern area, the hardship and the poverty was unreal, it was like nothing I had ever seen or experienced before. It was difficult to see. In Natal they had this ship of hope – it was an American ship with doctors and nurses that went in to help the people. It’s amazing to think that when we talk about ’72 in Brazil and you see this happening in Europe now at this time, it’s frightening that it could happen 40 years later.” The ship, the SS Hope, was a re-fitted US Navy ship whose mission was, “No pill and band-aid handout”, instead leaving a legacy of medical knowledge and training.
In the game Ireland came from 2-1 down to defeat the acclimatised South Americans and it was O’Connor who lobbed in the winner with 6 minutes remaining. Ireland managed to win 3-2, even with the second half sending off of Don Givens. The stadium where the match was played will forever be remembered in World Cup folklore, as the re-built version of that arena was that of Suárez bite fame from last summer’s World Cup.

Seeing red
The squad journeyed back south to Recife for the third match against Chile, which was to be O’Connor’s last game of the tournament. The striker received a straight red card for slamming into a Chilean opponent, showing his frustration after he adamantly claims Ireland should have been awarded a penalty. Even now, over 40 years on, there’s animation in the Athlone man’s voice when he speaks of the incident. He didn’t go quietly at the time either, as a match report in the Irish Times describes. Whilst making his way towards the dressing rooms, “On the way, O’Connor tore off his shirt and waved it at the jeering crowd”. Ireland had succumbed to their first defeat of the tournament, 2-1. That red card meant that O’Connor would sit out the final group fixture against Portugal, although Ireland were effectively out – needing to win by a considerable margin against the group favourites.

Unlucky
“Portugal would have been one of the favourites at the time, especially with the squad of players that they had”, explained O’Connor. Mick Leech scored for Ireland in what O’Connor describes as a disappointing 2-1 defeat [view goals]. “We played very well against Portugal and were very unlucky not to get a result. I was really looking forward to that one. I would have loved to play against Portugal and Eusébio too.”
Portugal went on to win the group and qualify for the 8-team elite phase. Then after seeing off: Argentina; Uruguay and Soviet Union, they rather ironically qualified for the Brazilian Independence Cup final against hosts, Brazil. Before a baying audience of over ninety-nine thousand, Brazil defeated their once colonial masters, 1-0 at the Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro. Jairzinho’s 89th minute deftly flicked header sealed an emotional triumph for Brazil, as 150 years on, Portugal were once again sent back across the Atlantic empty handed.
O’Connor went on to a distinguished club career as a player and a manager, although he only picked up a handful more Irish caps.

Film stars
Sipping on his tea and nibbling on a digestive, O’Connor reflects on the tournament as a special time. “There was a great atmosphere in the country (Brazil) for football. One thing, because you were representing a country, immediately they were in awe of you and they treated you like film stars more than footballers. That was one of the first times that I ever experienced that”.

For the love of it
The Julies Rimet trophy may not have been on offer for this tournament, but for O’Connor international football was about more than trophies and medals. “Today’s world when you think about some of the guys who have no enthusiasm to play for their country. It saddens me. With the finance and the money, it seems to have taken preference over the pride of actually playing for your country. You are going on a tour of Brazil for three weeks and playing for your country, money didn’t come into it at all. Being picked and presenting your country was far more important than money”.
Today, international cry-offs have become all too common place, as the modern footballer makes vast sums of money and views the evasion of international football as a means to extend their club careers, in a bid to prolong their earning power. However it is O’Connor who will re-call rich memories of pulling on the green jersey in the summer of ’72, when an international cap was priceless.

Andy Donlan

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