Andrew Dempsey reports from Dalymount Park
Bohemians kicked off their 2019 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division campaign with a rather dour, if not unspectacular, one-nil win over newly promoted Finn Harps at Dalymount Park.
Dinny Corcoran’s 41st minute strike was enough to send the Gypsies home with all three points as Harps rotten run away to Bohs at Dalymount continued with their 12th straight defeat at the spiritual home of Irish football.
The Gypsies have endured a tumultuous off-season with no less than five key first-team players heading towards the exit door at Dalymount Park. Shane Supple (retired), Ian Morris, Daniel Kelly, Dan Casey and JJ Lunney have all left Dublin’s sole Northside Premier Division representative.
On the other hand, recently promoted Finn Harps have added to their ranks suitably during the break with Daniel O’Reilly, Sam Verdon, Caolán McAleer and Raffaele Cretaro all joining Ollie Horgan’s outfit for 2019, all of whom made their Harps debut at Dalymount.
On the other hand, Keith Long handed debuts to Conor Levingston, James Finnerty and Luke Wade-Slater as the Gypsies looked to kickstart their 2019 campaign in the grand manner.
Starting the game in an attacking fashion, Bohemians created the first opening of the game but Dinny Corcoran was unable to make his opportunity count after an intuitive ball into the box by full back Darragh Leahy.
Roared on by their passionate support, Finn Harps were next to have a decent opening after Cretaro let McAleer loose before the former Sligo Rovers wide man whistled his shot right across the face of James Talbot’s sticks.
After a quiet enough period, Harps nearly grabbed an unlikely lead with former Longford Town defender O’Reilly seeing his glancing header hit the post after an expert ball in from Gareth Harkin from wide.
With the first half reaching a rather stale conclusion, new Bohs recruit Wade-Slater unleashed a fierce, stinging drive that almost crept into Peter Burke’s net, who, up until then, had nothing really to do apart from a few goal kicks.
Buoyed by their first effort on goal, the Gypsies took the lead just after as Corcoran completed a lovely move after being teed up by Wade-Slater in the penalty area.
Ollie Horgan will have been left fuming at his sides lapse in concentration for the opener which sent the Gypsies into the break with a slender one-goal lead.
The second half began in a similar light to much of the opening period but was soon ignited not life when Ward threaded a superb low pass through to Danny Mandroiu, forcing a smart save from Burke in the Harps goal.
Rob Cornwall saw his headed effort from the resulting corner tipped over by the22 year old Donegal native.
Stunned into action, Ward went close seconds later but Burke, the former Cliftonville ‘keeper was more than equal to the low drive from close range.
Continuing their relentless pressure, Bohs really should have doubled their lead on one, if not two occasions within a few seconds.
Wade-Slater and Corcoran missed two guilt-edged opportunities from close range after Harps defender Niall Logue was caught in possession by Wade-Slater at the edge of his penalty area just after the hour mark.
Harps eventually weathered the storm but looked rather toothless in attack with Mikey Place and Nathan Boyle living off scraps in the attacking third of the pitch for the Ballybofey outfit.
In one of their few real chances of the game, Harps winger Tony McNamee may have levelled late on from close range but the knock-down from Logue left the recently introduced sub with too much to do with an awkward bounce.
To their credit, Finn Harps never gave up but their end product was often lacking to ensure they went home with nothing from the capital.
Finn Harps next game is against none other than double champions Dundalk while Bohs must now prepare themselves for a Dublin Derby clash against UCD at the Belfield Bowl next week before their crunch showdown with arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park on February 25th.
Bohemians: James Talbot; Derek Pender, Darragh Leahy, Rob Cornwall, James Finnerty; Keith Buckley, Conor Levingston; Keith Ward, Danny Mandroiu (Scott Allardice, 90), Luke Wade Slater (Ryan Swan, 80); Dinny Corcoran (Sam Byrne, 88).
Subs not used: Niall Corbet (gk), Aaron Barry, Ryan Graydon, Paddy Kirk.
Booked: Conor Levingston (51), Danny Mandroiu (76).
Finn Harps: Peter Burke; Daniel O’Reilly, Jacob Borg (Mark Coyle, 65), Gareth Harkin, Sam Todd, John Kavanagh; Sam Verdon (Tony McNamee, 82), Niall Logue; Raffaele Cretaro (Mikey Place, 65), Nathan Boyle, Caolán McAleer.
Subs not used: Jamie Bell (gk), Colm Deasy, Liam Walsh, Niall McGinley.
Booked: Raffaele Cretaro (35).
Referee: Paul McLaughlin.
Attendance: 2,914 (Official).
Extratime.ie Man of the Match: Keith Ward (Bohemians).