Braniff brilliance sinks Bohs
The title sponsors' decision not to broadcast the first round of their competition was made to look off the mark last night as a new-look Bohemians got their competitive season off to a losing start.
This was no great classic at Dalymount Park, but Portadown midfielder Kevin Braniff deserved to have his wonderful opening goal recorded for posterity as his side took a one-goal lead back to Armagh, while the second half was an entertaining contest.
The holders -- who featured 10 debutants over the 90 minutes -- weren't expecting much from the opening of the defence of their Setanta crown, given the difficult winter they had just endured, and Pat Fenlon was dealt a further blow when he lost goalkeeper Barry Murphy to a back injury.
The Gypsies' other senior 'keeper Chris O'Connor is likely to be out for two months with a dislocated shoulder.
Braniff's strike was a high point in an otherwise quiet first half that saw Bohemians struggle to gel. The winger took Robert Bayly's loose header with his back to goal and, on the turn, he launched an unstoppable, dipping half-volley that crashed into the goal off the bar.
Nineteen-year-old Craig Sexton replaced Murphy between the sticks but he could do little to stop Portadown skipper Keith O'Hara doubling his side's lead with a low shot after he ran on to Braniff's clever pass.
Bohs hit back instantly, as debutant Kevin Feely's long ball put Anto Flood in behind the visiting defence and he pulled the ball back to the lurking Karl Somers, who marked his first start with a cool finish.
Flood might have equalised from Killian Brennan's tantalising free-kick, but any hopes of a potential comeback were scuppered when the winger led with his elbow on Garry Breen and was given a straight red card.
The Ulster side's boss Ronnie McFaul was also sent off for an altercation with fourth official Neil Doyle, but while Bohs launched a spirited last stand, they couldn't find a way through the stubborn Portadown rearguard.
BOHEMIANS -- Murphy (Sexton h-t); Heary, Price, Feely, Cahill; Dixon (Burke 58), Bayly, O'Brien, Brennan; Somers (Traynor 74), Flood.
PORTADOWN -- Miskelly; Craig, Breen, Gartland, Redman (Ramsey h-t); Baker, Mouncey (McCabe 79), Cawley, O'Hara, Braniff; Leeky.
REF -- T Connolly (Dublin).