Rover and out as Bohs fight back
Bohemians 3 Shamrock Rovers 1
It's very early days in the season but Bohemians have already poked a big hole in the ambitions of Shamrock Rovers to transform themselves into title contenders, youngster Dan Casey the tormentor of the Hoops with two goals in a 3-1 win last night.
The quality of the play did not always match the passion and neutral TV viewers may have been bored by the early stages of this derby.
But derby matches are rarely about slick football, more about the outcome, and the fightback from Bohs, who overturned a 1-0 deficit with a three-goal salvo in the final 18 minutes, will have impressed even the most hard-hearted cynic.
Former Sunderland defender Casey (20) had never scored a goal in senior football before but two headed efforts helped Bohs to a stunning win which rocked the Tallaght club.
Ronan Finn put Rovers ahead on 23 minutes, and there will be a serious inquest into how they allowed that 1-0 lead turn into a defeat, pressure already on at Rovers who face Dundalk in their next outing, while keeper Kevin Horgan will not look back on this game with any fondness.
Some nerves, on this big night on the Dublin football calendar, were to be expected, with 19-year-old defender Darragh Leahy making his debut for Bohs, while five Rovers players (Kevin Horgan, Ethan Boyle, Ally Gilchrist, Greg Bolger and Joel Coustrain) were getting their first taste of this derby.
For Rovers manager Stephen Bradley to choose Horgan ahead of Tomer Chencinski was a big call and Horgan may get more chances but Bradley finished the night with more questions than answers. Bohs' Dinny Corcoran should have at least hit the target on 20 minutes when Kevin Devaney's corner kick came his way, but Corcoran managed to hit only fresh air.
And in the 23rd minute Rovers took the lead and took a grip on the game. Greg Bolger's free kick was headed on by Gary Shaw, Burke's acrobatic shot was out of Shane Supple's reach and hit the woodwork, the rebound landing just right for Finn.
The home side were unable to up the tempo as they needed to do, Ward's 32nd minute free kick well wide, while they came close to an equaliser on 42 minutes, but Devaney's shot was blocked in the box by debutant Gilchrist.
Having struggled to get into the game, Bohs remained dogged and defiant, hopeful that something could turn for them and they were indeed the sharper of the two sides after the break, finally getting a reward with the equaliser on 73 minutes.
The goal had been coming as Keith Long's men were dangerous, an early warning in the second half when Ward fired a shot wide.
They had their first effort on target on 58 minutes, Horgan saving at close range from Corcoran's volley, impressive teenager Leahy proving the cross, while the arrival off the bench of debutant Eoghan Stokes - who had been a trialist with Rovers as recently as last week - added pep to the Bohs attack.
Bohs drew level on 72 minutes, Casey heading past Horgan from a corner by Ward, while Ward played a part in the goal which put Bohs ahead in the 81st minute, Oscar Brennan and then Ward flicking a long kick by Supple into the path of Paddy Kavanagh whose shot gave Horgan no chance.
Horgan was all at sea when Casey popped up again with the home side's third goal of the night, Ward with another assist and another header from Casey.