Ageless Jason Byrne strikes late to seal three points for high-flying Bohs
Bohemians 2 Limerick 1
It was by no means a vintage performance but the enduring quality of Jason Byrne got Bohemians out of a tight spot to keep the good vibes at Dalymount rolling.
The 37 year old substitute’s 84th minute winner, the 217th league goal of his storied career, was enough to move Keith Long’s side into third spot in the table. His predatory instincts were apparent as he swivelled in the area to convert a right footer that moves him within 18 of Brendan Bradley’s all-time record.
With the big game in Inchicore postponed, it means the Gypsies can enjoy being the capital’s leading side until Monday.
Limerick, on the other hand, remain bottom of the pile. An opening day drubbing at the hands of Bohs suggested that a season long relegation battle lay ahead for Martin Russell’s charges.
With no sponsor on their shirt and Jackman Park currently functioning as a base, they’ve not made for a pretty picture.
Light is beginning to appear in the tunnel, however, with Markets Field ready for a June opening and signs of improvement on the pitch although their efforts came to nothing here.
Bohemians showed character to come back from a goal behind against Cork on Monday but they were expected to take the initiative last night and initially embraced that challenge.
Roberto Lopes had already threatened before Derek Prendergast opened the scoring in the 12th minute. The set piece deliveries of left full Lorcan Fitzgerald have already been worth a few points this season and his accurate corner was firmly dispatched by the head of the centre half.
Prendergast celebrated by grabbing the ball and putting it under his shirt in recognition of the fact that his partner gave birth to a baby boy during the week. He wasn’t the only member of the Bohs dressing room who had enjoyed an eventful build-up; goalkeeper Dean Delany added to his family during the week and as Bohs dominated the early exchanges he had a chance to catch up on any lost sleep.
Limerick did manage to bounce from the ropes and give the natives some nervy moments shy of the interval. They still have some very capable players in their ranks with skipper Shane Duggan and Paul O’Conor adding midfield nous.
Ian Turner was a busy presence on the right flank and he nearly levelled matters jwhen his corner almost went straight in with Delany surprised to be called into action by the inswinger.
Russell’s charges dodged a bullet after the restart when an attempted Conor O’Donnell clearance rebounded off the closing Dean Kelly and came back off the post.
The let-off energised the Shannonsiders and they responded by equalising with Turner’s work forcing a Shane Tracy corner that caused panic with Fitzgerald’s clearance miscontrolled by Prendergast into the path of the grateful Dean Clarke who clipped home.
That jolted Bohs into life with Kelly and Robbie Creevy close to restoring their advantage and Marc Griffin sent in to join the former in a switch to two up front.
It was far from one way traffic as Limerick sniffed chances to win with centre half Paudie O’Connor denied when he marauded forward for a set piece as the game opened up.
But, true to form, Bohs turned the screw with the chequered flag in sight and there was exasperation in the Jodi when Adam Evans and Griffin wasted gilt edged opportunities. Their blushes were saved when Byrne sprung off the bench to claim the glory.
Bohemians: Delany, Pender, Prendergast, Mulcahy, Fitzgerald; Creevy (Buckley 75), Lopes; Kavanagh, Dillon (Griffin 57), Evans; Kelly (Byrne 78)
Limerick: O’Donnell, Harding (Hughes 45), O’Connor, Williams, Tracy; O’Conor, Duggan; Turner, Faherty (Hanlon 79), Rainsford; Clarke
Ref: R Stewart (Wales)