Saturday 24 February 2018

Bohs battle to keep Fenlon at the helm

Daniel McDonnell

Daniel McDonnell

Pat Fenlon now looks set to be in the Bohemians dug-out at Richmond Park tonight as negotiations continue with a view to changing his mind about quitting.

The Gypsies manager expressed his intentions to part company with the club after last Friday's defeat by Galway United, with the Dubliner frustrated by the off-the-field situation at Dalymount Park.

Fenlon retains concerns about the flub's future direction and was dissatisfied with changes to the board made at the club's recent AGM. Some members of the Bohs hierarchy are trying to convince Fenlon to stay, but it would require a major change of heart from the 41-year-old for their attempts to be successful.

He met with officials yesterday after the decision was taken at a board meeting on Wednesday night to try and resolve difficulties. Question marks remain over the viability of the club in its current structure, with some elements favouring a scaling down to an amateur set-up.

After a turbulent winter in Dublin 7, Fenlon has assembled a squad on a modest budget and another cost-cutting measure has meant Bohs are now training at Dalymount Park, in contrast from recent seasons when they used the facilities at DCU. Given that he is still under contract and is owed bonuses from his successful three seasons in Phibsborough, leaving Bohs would not be a straightforward process for the former Shelbourne and Derry City boss.

He has an opportunity to take a scouting job with Celtic and will inevitably be mentioned in connection with the vacant post at Kilmarnock following the departure of Mixu Paatelainen to take over as national coach of Finland.

Fenlon, who was denied the opportunity to take over Dundee United last year, has been linked with Kilmarnock before, and would be attracted by the prospect of working in Scotland.

The Bohs players have been working away this week unaware of what the future holds and it was business as usual for the Gypsies yesterday, with a pre-match bulletin sent out ahead of the trip to St Patrick's Athletic with no real reference to the uncertainty of the past few days.

After deciding against public comment on his deliberations, Fenlon is quoted in the statement with respect to tonight's encounter

"It's been a hard week for everybody and we've just got to make sure that we stay focused on the game," he said. "Going to Pat's, the players know if they don't perform they will be well beaten. It's a tough place, Inchicore. It's a tight ground and mistakes can lead to goals.


"They have shown glimpses of being very good and glimpses, like ourselves, of still needing to work out what way they want to play."

Understandably, Saints manager Pete Mahon has had other things on his mind this week after his mother passed away. His assistant John Gill has overseen preparations. Gill is considered to be one of the front-runners to replace Fenlon if he quits Bohs.

"The thoughts of all the staff and the players and everybody at the club is with Pete this week," said Gill. "It's a very hard time for him, as it is for anybody who loses a parent."

The Saints scored a dramatic 3-2 win over Dundalk last Friday when they came back from two goals down, and Gill is looking to build on that.

"We turned it around, and what we'll do now is look to carry that momentum into Friday's game," said Gill.

Meanwhile, Shamrock Rovers' boss Michael O'Neill feels his charges should have enough to keep them flying high at the top of the table away to Drogheda.

"We've had back-to-back away games over the last couple of weeks, but we're looking forward to the match," he said. "Drogheda had a good result in the EA Sports Cup during the week against Bray -- a game I was at -- so we're expecting a tough outing.

"We also know that all the expectation is on us, but we're confident that we can do what we need to do in the game and get a result."

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