Dessie Baker: The beginning of the end for Pat Fenlon and Bohemians?
This week, Dessie reflects on the turbulent situation at Bohemians, Pat Fenlon's future and a thrilling St. Pat's comeback against Dundalk at Richmond Park.
I went along to the Bohemians v Galway game at the weekend and I regretted it afterwards as I could have attended what turned out to be a five-goal thriller at Richmond Park instead!
The Bohs game wasn’t up to much to be honest; Galway weren’t great and Bohs weren’t much better. They had a few good chances early on and I think had they taken them, they could have gone on to win by three or four goals. Killian Brennan had one very good chance, he’s coming back into a bit of form lately which is good to see.
I played under Pat at Shelbourne and he’s a very good manager and if things aren’t being done the way he wants, I’m not sure I can see him staying in the job to be honest with you.
He showed a great bit of skill, cut inside and shot narrowly wide and if that had gone in, or if Bohs had taken one of the other chances that came their way, it might have been a different story, but it wasn’t the case. Galway seem to be a bit of a bogey team for Bohs, they beat them twice in Dublin last year and seem to have the hex over them at the moment.
After Galway got the goal, they sat back and they defended well to be fair to them. David Ladola came on as a substitute for Bohs and should really have scored with a header, but that chance went astray and Galway hung on in there. Their ‘keeper, Greg Fleming, was tremendous in the last few minutes and pulled off three or four magnificent saves.
Beginning of the end for Pat Fenlon and Bohemians?
Things seem to be getting worse for Pat Fenlon at the moment. He’s the type of person that likes everything to be done right and I’m not sure what his situation is, but it doesn’t look good.
I played under Pat at Shelbourne and he’s a very good manager and if things aren’t being done the way he wants, I’m not sure I can see him staying in the job to be honest with you. On the other hand, he may well want to stay there and do the best he can for the club.
Situations like what’s happening at Bohs occur all the time and it could well turn out that he will step back and let someone else take over. It’s unfortunate the way things have turned out, but it just doesn’t seem right at Bohs at the moment. The atmosphere around Dalymount Park didn’t seem right on Friday night and it hasn’t really been happening on the pitch either, despite some of the results they’ve had at the start of the season.
In fairness to them, they did try and push on against Galway, but they just couldn’t break them down. As I said, all credit to Galway, they dug in and performed well as a unit, but the game as a whole wasn’t particularly easy on the eye and I’m sorry I was there instead of being at the five-goal thriller in Richmond Park.
Five goal thriller
One of my mates lives down by Richmond Park and went along to the game and he told me all about it afterwards. He said that it was a classic game of two halves; the first half was dominated by Dundalk and Pat’s went at them in the second half and clawed out a win in the end. I was saying last week that I was a bit disappointed with Pat’s against Shamrock Rovers, especially because they didn’t really come out and attack Rovers.
By all accounts, they got at Dundalk in the second half on Friday night and I think Pat’s are better when they play like that; when they attack rather than sitting back and waiting for things to happen and they were apparently different class in the second half.
Dave Mulcahy celebrates after netting a late winner for St. Pat's against Dundalk
Dundalk were all over them in the first half, however, with Mark Quigley getting both goals for them. At the start of the season, I said that I thought Quigley will be a big player for Dundalk this year and it’s proved to be the case; he seems to be scoring a few goals.
I think Mark is a great player and that he has great potential and last season was probably the quietest he’s had in a long time. It’s good to see him enjoying his football again and he’s not just scoring any type of goal, he’s scoring crackers. He scored a wonder goal last weekend, another wonder goal this weekend and then topped it all off with an overhead kick.
Mulcahy the man
It’s good to see him playing well, but it wasn’t enough for Dundalk to claim all three points on the night as Pat’s staged a great comeback and won it thanks to a Dave Mulcahy goal at the finish. Dave is a player that gives 110 or 115 per cent in every game he plays and he always pops up with a goal here and there. He did it last year a few times and he’s carried the habit into this year with yet another late winner.
Dave doesn’t do anything spectacular; he breaks up play, wins his tackles, gets the team going and drives them forward. He’s very vocal on the pitch and although he’s no Beckham in that he’s not spraying 40 or 50 yard passes all over the pitch, he does the simple things very well. He pops up with his fair share of goals as well and is still going strong at 33 years of age, fair play to him.
I had expressed concerns over the way Pat’s were playing as I didn’t think they were playing to the standard they were last year or even the couple of years before that. The win against Dundalk might be the kick up the ass they needed, it’s a great boost to the squad and to come from two down to win 3-2 shows great character. If they hadn’t won on Friday night, they would have been in the bottom two so it was very important for them to get a result.
The way they’ve been playing so far this season, you wouldn’t have expected them to come from two down to win it, but I’m sure Pete Mahon had a few harsh words to say to them at half time and got them riled up in the dressing room. Pete is that sort of manager; he’s a very passionate character. I’m sure he got into them at half-time and Pat’s were a completely different side in the second half.
Hoops' great start continues
Shamrock Rovers lost their 100 per cent record against Derry City on Friday night, but I’m sure they won’t have been too disappointed to come away with a point. The Brandywell is an extremely hard place to go to and get a result.
It’s not just the travelling involved in getting up there that makes it tough; the pitch is very difficult to play on as well, a lot of people say that it’s a bit slanted. Derry have had a decent start to the season; they’re mid-table and I think their fans will be pretty happy with that and pretty happy about getting a draw with Shamrock Rovers.
As far as Rovers are concerned, I think Michael O’Neill will be delighted with the result, it was a real smash and grab job and he’ll be happy to have got the point and to have the unbeaten record intact. At the end of the day, they came away with a clean sheet, it keeps them top of the table and they opened the gap to three points.
Oman continues to impress
I was talking to a couple of the players since the game and they said that Ken Oman was probably the best player on the pitch and he gave another dominant performance. As I was saying last week, Rovers still have Craig Sives to come back in, but it’s going to be difficult to see who’s going to make way.
I’ve played against a lot of good centre halves in my time and to be fair to Sives, he’s up there with the best of them. I know he’s back training and when he’s fully fit, it will be interesting to see what happens. To be fair to Ken and to Dan Murray, they’ve done a good job; they haven’t conceded a goal from play, only a penalty kick and to be fair to them, it’s going to be difficult for any of them to be taken out of there.
It will be a big step down from what he (Gillespie) is used to and because he’s living up the north, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the travel and having to go to places like Cobh Ramblers and Mervue United.
When Ken joined Rovers at the start of the year, I wasn’t sure if he was going to play or not, but he’s done really well in the games I’ve seen him in, and all the reports about his performances in games that I haven’t been at have all been good as well.
It’s good to see that Rovers are strong at the back this year and with the creative players they have elsewhere in the squad, they have a good mixture there and as a former Rovers man myself; I hope they can keep the good run going.
Gillespie signing could be a masterstroke
Bray and Sligo also got good results over the weekend, but I suppose one of the big stories last week was Keith Gillespie signing for Longford Town.
I was talking to Keith a while ago; we played a testimonial match together and I think he just wants to play football, he’s that sort of bloke, he’ll keep going and going until he can’t anymore. It’s unfortunate the way things turned out for Keith, the way he had a few problems off the pitch, but I think that it could turn out to be a very good signing for Longford.
Keith Gillespie in action for Shamrock Rovers against Manchester United last year
It’s a great boost for them to be able to sign a player of Keith’s quality and it will be interesting to see how he copes in the first division week in, week out. I’m not putting down Longford or anything, but it will be a big step down from what he’s used to and because he’s living up the north, it will be interesting to see how he copes with the travel and having to go to places like Cobh Ramblers and Mervue United.
If he does play and plays well, it will be a great signing for Tony Cousins. I don’t know how it came about, but if he can do the business week in week out, he will be a good signing for them.
I played with Keith for the reserve team at Manchester United when we were both there, we won the league together. I think he still has a lot to offer, he came down and played for Rovers in a testimonial game last year and did very well. I know Michael O’Neill was having a look at him, but he was caught up with a club in England at the time.
Keith will always keep himself fit, he’s that sort of bloke, he’s very athletic and will be fit enough to cope no question, but as I said, my only concern would be whether he has the temperament to last in the first division. I played in the first division with Dundalk for half a season and found it difficult to adapt, so it might be a similar situation for Keith, we’ll just have to wait and see how it turns out.
Fair play to ex-colleagues
Finally, I’d just like to say that I’m delighted to see Alan Matthews get off to such a great start with Shelbourne, who had a good win at Mervue United at the weekend. That’s three wins in a row for Alan and I’m delighted to see him do so well.
Also, a couple of former Longford Town colleagues of mine, Stephen Paisley and Danny O’Connor, got on the scoresheet for Shelbourne and Bray Wanderers respectively and it’s good to see the lads still involved and scoring goals.