Fenlon hoping fans can keep the peace
PAT FENLON hopes that the organising parties have taken the necessary steps to avoid the ugly spectre of crowd trouble when Bohemians meet Linfield in the first leg of their Setanta Cup semi-final at Dalymount Park tomorrow.
The fixture will kick-off at lunch-time, with the authorities keen to avoid a repeat of the nasty scenes at Dalymount a couple of weeks back when visiting fans from Glentoran clashed with gardai.
Trouble flared when the travelling contingent tried to fly a Northern Ireland flag at the final whistle, while there were also minor skirmishes outside the ground.
Fenlon, a former Linfield player who is held in high esteem by fans of the Belfast club, believes they are taking the proper precautions ahead of their journey south. But he also acknowledged that Bohs are well aware how a few troublemakers in their ranks can cause difficulty.
"I don't know the ins and outs of what happened the last time (v Glentoran). I've heard a couple of stories in relation to that, but I'd park that if I don't know the facts," he said yesterday.
"I do know that at Linfield, they steward their supporters really well and their supporters are fairly well behaved. You can't legislate for a few eejits that are going to latch on but I think what they've done with the tickets . . . they've sold them to people they know and tried to monitor as best possible.
"Normally, between 15 and 20 of their own stewards will travel with them. They don't want to have their reputation tarnished, that's for certain, and we're praying that nothing happens. Because we're not whiter than white ourselves.
"We have problems with supporters and we know that. We need to eradicate that."
He added: "I know it's difficult for the police as well. To face up to some of the stuff they had to face up to a couple of weeks ago, but they've got to deal with it whatever way they see fit. They've got to take into account the safety of everyone else."
Unfortunately, the timing of the fixture brings the game into direct conflict with the televised attraction of Manchester United v Chelsea which will undoubtedly affect attendance figures. Bohs have attracted decent crowds to Phibsborough for their opening league games, and Fenlon has appealed to floating Gypsies followers to leave the comfort of their armchair for an important encounter.
"Linfield have sold 800 or 900 tickets for the game, so that hasn't deterred them from travelling," he said.
"Our support didn't come out in great numbers for the Glentoran game and I'm hoping it'll be a bit different this time. They'll have a big support and a vocal support and I'm just hoping that our lads can get into the Jodi (Stand) and make it a good occasion for everyone."
Meanwhile, Sporting Fingal boss Liam Buckley is looking forward to a nostalgic trip to Richmond Park this evening for the emerging side's first league match with his former club, St Patrick's Athletic. Both sides have started the new season well, and Buckley is relishing the televised Dublin derby.
"We have a few ex-Saints in the squad, such as Gary O'Neill, Stephen Paisley and Alan Kirby and having won the league there as a player and manager myself, it's a game we're all excited about," said Buckley.