Bohs bid to lift gloom by scuttling Hoops
BOHEMIANS enter the last five games of their season like a fighter on his last legs, swinging wildly and hoping to inflict some damage.
Tonight -- if they can land a blow -- it would do serious damage to Shamrock Rovers' title defence. But even though that would cheer them up, Gypsies fans know that they have significantly more to worry about than the fortunes of their fierce rivals.
While once it was they who taunted their rivals about their financial problems, it's now the Hoops who gleefully sing about "Bohs going bust".
On the park, Pat Fenlon's hastily assembled squad have punched above their weight this year and, although any chance they had of winning the league appears to have passed, they will play a part in the destination of the title with games against Sligo Rovers and Derry City still to come.
"We'll definitely have a say in what happens," said Fenlon. "It's a good race. It's Rovers' title to lose, but Sligo Rovers and Derry City are there too."
"It's a tough run-in for them all. It's not easy and you have to keep your bottle until the end -- as we know well from last year."
Third is a realistic prospect for Bohs and while they take on Sligo at home in the FAI Cup semi-final, even if they were to qualify, Fenlon has admitted: "I don't know if there is any point in getting into Europe."
The manager says he's "disappointed and disillusioned with the place and the way things are going" at a club that has appealed to its membership and support for help in dealing with a deficit of €120,000 to make it to the end of the season and into the next campaign.
And even if they can reach that target through fundraising, the subject of their debts will dominate over the winter.
Bohemians owe Zurich Bank €4m for a loan that is secured on the car-park on the Connaught Street side of the ground. Repayments are due to commence in 2012, but with the club still experiencing cash-flow issues and with the land no longer worth what it once was during the boom, the situation in Phibsborough is an increasingly bleak one.
Fenlon has had to watch his club slide from the position they once held and when he tuned in to watch Rovers' European exploits at White Hart Lane last week, he saw a huge contrast with what he's dealing with on a day-to-day basis.
"Unfortunately, there seems to be one club going in the right direction," he admitted. "The rest of them, I'd be a little bit worried about. Rovers gave an account of themselves -- both on and off the pitch -- that they can be proud of and fair play to them, it's a credit to them.
"Here, the supporters and the players have worked tremendously hard to keep things going on the park. Maybe it's time for others to step up to the plate and let us know what is going on because at the moment the future doesn't look very bright at the club."
A win tonight would give Bohemians reason to smile but not, it would seem, for long.