Late Mulcahy strike heaps more misery on Gypsies
WHEN they arrived back from Wales with their tails between their legs, the players of Bohemians must have known that opposition fans were never going to let them forget the humiliation.
The hosts emerged for this important league encounter to be greeted by a banner in the St Patrick's Athletic section with the initials of their European conquerors, TNS, expanded into 'The New Shels', accompanied by similar messages predicting financial demise.
In the end, the Saints hardcore would have both the first and the last laugh, rescuing a draw from the jaws of defeat in the third minute of added time when Dave Mulcahy blasted home from outside the area to strike a further blow to Bohemians' hearts.
The best-case scenario for those of a Dalymount persuasion is that the shame of their Oswestry annihilation inspires Bohs to a third successive league title.
This encounter had provided them with the opportunity to reclaim top spot, so the manner of their late concession will sting. Momentum checked.
Bohs had bounced out of the blocks with the kind of purposeful start that has defined the majority of the Fenlon era. Within four minutes, they pierced the Saints' rearguard.
Skipper Owen Heary, deployed at centre-back, ventured into opposition territory to meet a Killian Brennan teaser with a precision header that eluded Gary Rogers.
The Gypsies continued to press with menace for a period, with their visitors struggling to get a foothold, although they stopped conceding cheap space in the final third, with Paul Keegan blocked when afforded a brief sight of goal.
However, Pete Mahon, celebrating his 63rd birthday, finally had something to be cheerful about as the interval approached with the blue-shirted Saints beginning to compete.
Recent recruit Daniel North, an English striker, temporarily imposed himself -- although he later faded from the game and was replaced -- while the battle-hardened midfield duo Stuart Byrne and Mulcahy identified themselves.
Chances were scarce, though, with a few corners and a speculative strike from Damian Lynch all the Saints had to show for a decent spell.
In truth, Bohs were relatively comfortable defensively, and should have doubled their lead just short of the interval when Mark Quigley, a Saint turned villain, benefited from Lynch confusion but duly shot wide from 10 yards.
Tension grabbed control when the teams resumed, with the game retaining a certain amount of pace but lacking in real excitement in a scrappy period concentrated around midfield.
Bohs' young striker Paddy Madden, responsible for costly European misses, was a busy presence and nearly got on the end of a Keegan flick only for Rogers to emerge outside the area smartly. Otherwise, the diminutive Madden fought a losing battle with the offside flag.
Yet the onus was on the visitors to take the initiative and they took their time in doing so. Paul Byrne, a first-half sub for the stricken Brian Cash, attempted to mix things up, and Dave McAllister was later introduced in a move that pushed Ryan Guy back into a striking role as Byrne's partner, but there was no creative quality to utilise his talents.
Nevertheless, the Saints managed to get forward in numbers as the decibel levels increased in the final quarter. Mahon's men pumped deliveries into the danger zone in search of a break. Alas, like an errant golfer, they struggled to get the right yardage -- until the death.
Two minutes into injury-time, the champions appeared to be home and dry. They had dealt with all the other punts competently, but the last throw of the dice was headed to the edge of the area where Mulcahy found some time on his own, as Bohs switched off.
Sizing up the opportunity, he found the bottom corner with one sweep of his right boot, before racing to the other end of the park to join the adoring masses in fevered celebration.
Bohemians -- Murphy, Shelley, Heary, Oman, Rossiter; McGlynn, Keegan, Cronin, Brennan; Quigley (Greene 78), Madden
St Patrick's Athletic -- Rogers, Pender, Kenna, Guthrie, Lynch; Cash (P Byrne 35), Mulcahy, S Byrne, Doyle; North (McAllister 64), Guy.
Ref -- A Kelly (Cork)