Fenlon laughs off Dalymount scuffle
FOR 75 minutes at Dalymount Park on Saturday, not very much happened. Then a game broke out. And, finally, a fight. It would have been unusual if the meeting between these two rivals failed to produce a talking point.
A frenetic conclusion to the game culminated in a rash challenge by Glenn Cronin on Sean O'Connor that gave injury-time a very literal feel for the Shamrock Rovers winger.
Cronin's attempt to apologise after the game set off a series of scuffles with players from both sides involved. The bad feeling carried over into the warm down when a variety of protagonists squared up to each other again. There was a lot of pushing and trash talking without much contact.
"I've seen better fights in a chipper in Finglas," said Bohs manager Pat Fenlon.
Although he was in the middle of the arguments after the final whistle and exchanged verbals with the Rovers players, the Gypsies boss was in calmer form during the post-mortem than his opposite number Michael O'Neill, who raged at Cronin's tackle and the performance of referee Dave McKeon.
He likened Cronin's intervention, which brought a Hoops counter-attack to an abrupt end, to Mark Quigley's leg breaker on Gareth Coughlan at Inchicore last week. McKeon deemed it a yellow-card offence and Fenlon agreed.
"It was a good tackle from Glenn because we were under pressure," he said. "It's a yellow card."
O'Neill also felt his charges could have been awarded a penalty when a Dessie Baker strike was blocked by the arm of Ken Oman as the Hoops piled on the pressure in the final minutes.
"The number of free-kicks Bohemians got was very high," said O'Neill. "We had a player, James Chambers, sent off in Dundalk for absolutely nothing and you see a challenge like that (Cronin's) or the challenge last week (Quigley) and the player staying on the pitch and you've got to wonder."
Fenlon responded: "Michael must be having a laugh."
The Shamrock Rovers manager wasn't too happy when the absence of star striker Gary Twigg was discussed. The Scotsman was given permission to skip the game due to his wedding, the date of which was booked long before he joined the Dubliners.
However, Rovers left the information out of their team news bulletin and Twigg even turned up for a PFAI press gathering earlier in the week where he spoke about the game without mentioning his unavailability. Of course, there's nothing new about a ploy to fool the opposition, but Fenlon said he ascertained on Friday that Rovers' main man wouldn't be involved.
"It didn't need to be in the public domain," said O'Neill. "Managers and players say a lot of things that aren't true. You journalists write a lot of things that aren't true as well.
"It would have been unrealistic to ask the lad to call his wedding off. A big financial outlay had already been made. We're a part-time club and sometimes part-time players have outside things that are outside your control."
All fair enough if it was explained earlier. Twigg is a high-profile player and the whole exercise is a classic case of how League of Ireland clubs rarely do themselves favours in the public relations stakes.
He was missed in that final period when substitute Baker found himself in the right place on two occasions only to strike the bar and, subsequently, the hand of Oman, although the Bohs man knew little about it.
Certainly, it was Rovers who finished stronger and started brighter. In between, it was Bohs who did most of the pressing and they went for it in the second half without ever really opening O'Neill's side up.
Killian Brennan and Mark Rossiter came closest, but those opportunities wouldn't have warranted much mention in a better game.
Instead, it's the events in the aftermath that will set the scene for their next encounter at the start of August.
Bohemians -- B Murphy, Shelley, McGuinness, Oman, Powell; Rossiter (A Murphy 66), Keegan, Cronin, Brennan; Quigley, Byrne (Madden 83).
Shamrock Rovers -- Mannus, Flynn, Sives, Murray, Murphy; O'Connor (Kavanagh 90), Chambers (Baker 72), Bayly, Rice, Dennehy (Turner 61); Stewart.
REF -- D McKeon (Dublin).