Pitch is bad but not dangerous, insists Bohs No 1 Delany
Bohemians goalkeeper Dean Delany has conceded that the quality of the surface in the penalty boxes at Dalymount Park is below par but still believes that referee Tomas Connolly over-reacted by calling off Monday's clash with rivals Shamrock Rovers.
Connolly's last-minute decision will have serious financial implications for Bohs and Delany felt it was unnecessary, given that the Gypsies don't have another league game at the venue until September 5, thus leaving a window for more comprehensive repair after the Rovers fixture.
The match officials were not satisfied by Bohs' short-term solution.
Delany admits that the over-used Dalymount surface could be better and is a particular nightmare for his opposite numbers.
"There's no denying it, the goalsmouths have been bad," said Delany. "It's just strange because we had a two or three-week break after Monday and it could have been done then, so there you go.
"There has been attention on the pitch this season from early on. Maybe the club just wanted to cover the cracks (after the issue was raised on Friday). The way it was done, obviously Tom felt it wasn't playable. The penalty spot looked a bit strange being dug up. Maybe they could have waited until after the game."
Wolves visited Dalymount for a friendly last month and they left out their regular keeper Carl Ikeme for the match, with the pitch understood to be a factor. Delany doesn't believe there is a safety issue, though, with his concerns related to uneven bounces.
"I have a chat with the other keepers afterwards, the old keepers' union would have a discussion about it and it's not nice for us now I have to say," he said.
"From where I'm at, it wouldn't be an injury issue. I am sure that managers come, look at the goalmouth and say 'take as many shots as you can and as often as you can and then get the centre-forwards to follow in'. You never know what can happen.
"The area has that unpredictability but you get on with it. However, I am sure that keepers, when they go to Dalymount, it's at the back of their minds.
"It's something I've got used to because I'm playing there every second week but the other keepers that come in. You can probably tell it's on their mind from the start of the game."
Financial issues have complicated the maintenance of the pitch at the old venue. Bohs do not have a full-time groundsman and instead use an outside company. More pertinently, wear and tear is a factor, with the Bohs squad primarily training at Dalymount during the summer.
"An awful lot of clubs are renting their stadiums out through the off-season," Delany added. "It's understandable, to make a bit of revenue. I would imagine a lot of it comes down to finances.
"Dalymount was one of the best pitches in the league when they were full-time. I have played on worse-conditioned pitches. It's the goalmouth where it could be improved."
The Shamrock Rovers players were bemused by developments and returned to work yesterday with a lively training session ahead of Friday's cup tie with Longford.
Hoops midfielder Gary McCabe was unsure about Connolly's verdict. "At the end of the day, the ref is right. If somebody goes out and breaks their leg in a hole then it's gonna be on the ref," said McCabe, at first appearing to agree with the official's ruling. But he then said he was surprised considering Rovers had played at the ground in an EA Sports Cup final earlier this month without any hassle.
"We played on it a couple of weeks ago and it was the exact same," said McCabe. "Why couldn't we just have played on Monday and got on with it as well? The players didn't have a problem whatsoever. It's down to the referee, it's their decision."
- Delany and McCabe were speaking at a Ford event to launch their 'New Focus Man of the Round' competition ahead of this weekend's FAI Cup action. Fans can vote at Facebook.Com/FordIreland.