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Bohs win back fans by seaside

IN A disastrous week for all concerned at Bohemians, last night's 3-0 win over Bray Wanderers at the Carlisle Grounds will go a little way to healing the sense of loss felt by their Champions League exit in midweek.

With three crucial Airtricity League Premier Division points on the board, Pat Fenlon's side -- who have swam against a tide of criticism after their shocking 4-0 defeat by Welsh side The New Saints on Tuesday -- are still in the hunt for a third successive title.

But, at the end of a tumultuous week, it was as much about the performance for the league champions as the result.

The most intriguing sub-plot at the Carlisle Grounds was not the reaction of the players, but the reaction of the travelling faithful to their fallen heroes.

In the immediate aftermath of their drubbing at the hands of TNS, Fenlon's men trudged off the field to the sound of boos, while the former Shelbourne manager had a jersey thrown his way in disgust.

But last night the champions went a long way to mending bridges between the squad and their fans as they put themselves within two points of their table-topping rivals Shamrock Rovers with a game in hand.


Nobody within the Bohs squad is sure of their professional future at the moment, with reports suggesting that they are to return to part-time football after they missed out on a huge cash injection with their Euro elimination.

But on last night's evidence, they didn't seem to care. Fenlon dropped Ruaidhri Higgins, Mark Quigley and Jason Byrne to the bench four days after their crushing defeat across the water, while Conor Powell was left out of the squad altogether, and the shake-up had the desired effect.

As Eddie Gormley's Bray attempted to intimidate their more illustrious rivals on home soil, each crunching tackle they flew into was met with an even more committed challenge.

Every whisper from the stands can be heard within the white lines at the seaside venue. But, far from angry chants, the away fans rallied in support of their wounded soldiers.

A large contingent travelled from Phibsborough, and perhaps one of the most pertinent moments of the game was not one of the three goals, but a tackle from Brian Shelley on the half-hour mark.


The right-back chased down a long ball 20 yards past the halfway line. It seemed a hopeless task, but his stern challenge on Derek Prendergast raised hope and raised the decibels as his fans stood in applause.

They had already notched up two goals by then against the outclassed Seagulls, as Paddy Madden made it 11 goals in his last nine games with an early brace.

On nine minutes he latched onto Owen Heary's header down from a Killian Brennan free-kick and needed two bites at the cherry before slamming the ball past helpless Brian Kane.

The in-form 20-year-old doubled their lead five minutes later when he shaped a beautiful finish past Kane after bursting free to latch onto the through ball from his strike partner, Aaron Greene.

It was the endeavour which impressed Bohs fans the most, but Brennan did turn on the style for their third goal, the Drogheda native played a one-two with Paul Keegan from a short corner before curling a delicious strike in off the far post.