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Derby Day at Dalymount

Friday night was the big Dublin Derby between Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park. For anyone with a Rovers friend (or foolishly a Bohs friend) on Facebook or Twitter, their news feed yesterday was full of #derbyday comments. As a few fans commented, the clocks certainly move slower on the day of the derby, as kick off time can’t come soon enough.

For this opening derby of the season the Rovers fans were accommodated in the Des Kelly Stand or school end of Dalymount. It’s the first time I can remember being there as an away fan. The first time I was in Dalymount I spent my time out on the pitch but I wasn’t playing but was at the ‘Sunstroke’ Festival in 1993 to see Sonic Youth and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers (who didn’t actually play being replaced by Faith No Moore on the day).

The following year I returned for some football, this time for the famous series of FAI cup second rounds games against Bohemians that required two replays to separate the sides. That was definitely heading in to enemy territory for the second replay with a friend from Clonmel leading a group of us from college to the game (culchie’s always know the bus routes in Dublin I think). Standing on the massive shopping centre end (that Bohs have somehow managed to sell twice) with the Hoops fans singing “Ring of Fire” around a ticker tape bonfire is a favourite memory even if we did get beaten that night. It was one of the reasons I came back for more.

Moving on a few year in 2005, a year after a pig’s head was ‘thrown’ onto the pitch in a derby towards Tony Grant (who switched from Rovers to Bohs that season), Rovers were playing their ‘home’ games in Dalymount Park. Indeed the last time I stood on the school end terrace was the day we played Cork City in April that year which was the day Rovers were successful in getting an Examiner appointed to prevent the clubs liquidation. I have the match ball from our 3-1 win over Bohs that year which found its way into my possession towards the end of the game when it came into the crowd. A bit of time wasting I feel helped us win that game!

We had the famous derby win in the FAI Cup when as a first division club in 2006, we knocked Bohs out in a replay at Dalymount. We had a penalty saved, our manager sent off and the loss precipitated the firing of Bohs’ manager – a great night all round then! All the away games during these years, were watched from the Connaught Street side of the ground as the shopping centre end was closed for health and safety reasons. Now that side is also deemed unsafe meaning that Rovers are now in the school end entering the ground via the laneway covered in Bohs/Rovers related graffiti including an artistic pig’s head in honour of Tony Grant maybe?

Our record for our home derbies in Tallaght is 100 % with four wins out of four but it is 2007 since the last win in Dalymount against Bohs. Travelling over as league Champions this year against a Bohs team some suggested wouldn’t even make the league this season (due to terrible financial mismanagement of the club) it is hoped that we can get that elusive win this time. Back in 1993 for those FAI games, there were around 10,000 at the Derby but there will be just over 3,000 at this game. There would be a lot more only Rovers have been allocated just 1,000 tickets for this game (Bohemians can’t even sell out their main stand). A feature of recent derby fixtures has been the introduction of all ticket games mainly due to the demands of tickets for Rovers fans.

Michael O’Neill has gone for the same 4-3-3 formation he went with in the impressive 2-0 win in Sligo during the week. Bohs line out with lots of players familiar to the Hoops with former players Ger O’Brien, Anto Flood, Robert Bayly (“who broke the hearts of the Israelis” for Rovers in Europe last year) and Aidan Price.

Aidan Price was a fixture at Rovers since the 2006 season, captaining the team, but the Tallaght man was deemed surplus to requirements this season. Rovers fans were sorry to see him go and he got a reasonable reception from the away fans. Meanwhile as Price went to Rovers, Ken Oman came the other way and is greeted with boos with every touch by the Bohs fans. Rovers are missing the talismanic striker Gary Twigg who’s winning goals in 2009 in the Derbies in Tallaght hasn’t been forgotten by Bohs who taunt us with “where’s your famous Gary Twigg?” when we go a goal down in the second half.

Linesman Douglas is a sensitive soul and doesn’t appreciate Gary McCabe complaining about a poor decision with regard to a throw in and so Shamrock Rovers are forced to play out the remaining minutes with 10 men. The vocal home and away fans are very close to one another so there is plenty of banter between the fans. In response to us singing about “We’re Shamrock Rovers, we do what we want”, Bohs come back and sing “You’re Shamrock Rovers, you do what your told”.

Ultimately we have the last word, as Phibsborough, and the Irish airwaves with the match being live on RTÉ, will be left with Rovers singing into the night “That’s why we are Champions”. This is in response to a Friday night late late goal for the Hoops. With the game entering the last minute of injury, Rovers force a corner. The clocking ticks into the 94th minute as Rovers keeper Alan Mannus pushes forward into the box. Conor McCormack floats one in and Ronan Finn gets a head on to it flicking the ball in an arc to the far corner. We hold our breath and then as the net ripples there is mayhem in the away end. In the melee I get an elbow in the face and somehow manage to hang onto my bent glasses in my hand. I now have a black eye as a souvenir from our derby day draw!

The draw was probably a fair result but no doubt that it is the Rovers fans that head home happier from Dalymount. The result means that after seven games Shamrock Rovers are still top of the league but with the same points total as Sligo and Derry with Bohs down in fifth only two points behind. It will not be long to the next derby. That one will take place in Tallaght Stadium at the end of next month.

The Dublin Derby

October 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Article from Irish Daily Star by Mark McCadden (October 24, 2010)

The League of Ireland might not have the money or the glamour of its English or Spanish counterparts, but when it comes to derby games, Bohemians versus Shamrock Rovers is up there for passion. Mark McCadden was in Dalymount for the lastest grudge match (and met up with ‘Hoops fantatic’ Macdara Ferris).

“There are lots of Dublin derbies – and I certainly enjoy the games against St. Pat’s – but when you talk about a Dublin derby, it’s Rovers and Bohs.”