SoccerMatch Report

Defenders shine brightest as Bohemians and Shelbourne draw at Dalymount Park

Shelbourne’s Luke Byrne and Bohemians’ Kacper Radkowski and Krystian Nowak impressed

Bohemians 0 Shelbourne 0

No score draw on a night when defenders shined brightest as Shelbourne captain Luke Byrne and Bohemians’ Polish pillars, Kacper Radkowski and Krystian Nowak, kept those employed to rattle the onion bag under wraps.

Damien Duff called for “calm heads” before this Dublin derby but in the same sentence the Shelbourne manager demanded “aggression with the ball and without the ball” from his young charges.

And so followed a game littered with calm aggression. The Shels fans don’t sing “in your head, in your head – Duffer, Duffer” to the tune of Zombie by The Cranberries for nothing.


Eventually the contest boiled over with Ali Coote and Jad Hakiki entangled in a minor melee that invited all 20 out field players to huddle. A bucket of yellow cards was poured on the occasion without any obvious nastiness.

Shels showed well initially, with Matty Smith denied a look into the whites of James Talbot’s eyes by the rare sight of a clean slide tackle by Nowak. Alongside Radkowski, the two Poles have brought a solidity this season that allowed Declan Devine’s side to slow the Premier Division becoming a two-horse race between Derry City and Shamrock Rovers.

Stall, but not stop. The League of Ireland is set to be dominated for the foreseeable future by Derry and Rovers, which makes Bohs and Shels also-rans unless Duff’s squad can get a cash injection from Hull City owner Acun Ilicali. Or Bohs find a second wind.

In the meantime, a GAA Go Games vibe descended upon Dalymount Park – plenty of aggressive, borderline exchanges but no need to keep tabs on the scoreboard.

Bohs finished the first-half the stronger when James McManus sprayed a lovely ball wide left for Jordan Flores only for Byrne to read the play and deny Jonathan Afolabi a tap-in.

Byrne was outstanding. He cannot compete with Afolabi in a straight sprint or elbow-to-elbow as his 29 year old knees have seen better days. Not a week passes without the draining of fluid and specialised training to get Duff’s skipper on the pitch every Friday night.

Referee Damien MacGraith let it flow, where possibly, but no official could let Mark Coyle’s blatant tugging of Adam McDonnell’s torso pass without a booking. Flores and Ali Coote stood over the central free-kick before Coote slammed his shot off the crossbar.

Bohs goalkeeper James Talbot was a welcome sight, having withdrawn from the Republic of Ireland training camp in Bristol this week with a knock. He made the first save of a dour affair in the 56th minute as half chances continued to come and go. Afolabi forced a lunging block by Shane Griffin before, down the other end, Jack Moylan’s snapshot was straight at Talbot.

That was the end of Afolabi’s night, the lone striker limping away to be replaced by James Akintunde’s nimble hold up play with his back to goal.

As news filtered through from Turners Cross that Rovers had suffered three sendings off in a 1-0 defeat to Cork City, Bohs upped the pace. A packed Dalymount responded in kind, but the excitement proved temporary as McManus screwed a shot well wide.

Bohs came again, and again, but Byrne will definitely need those knees seen to after this colossal performance.

Bohemians: Talbot; Benn (Horton 90), Nowak, Radkowski, Flores; McManus, McDonnell; McDaid (Clarke 83), Coote, Twardek; Afolabi (Akintunde 55).

Shelbourne: Kearns; Molloy, Byrne, Griffin; Wilson, Coyle (Hakiki 56), Lunney, Wilson (Ledwidge 69); Farrell (Caffrey HT), Smith (Boyd 69); Moylan (Robinson 89).

Referee: D MacGraith

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent