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My Favourite Game: From 'sacked in the morning' to the launchpad for Bohs' league triumph

Ruaidhri O'Connor


Rovers (4) v Bohs (6) 2001 LOI Premier Division January 29, Morton Stadium

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Glen Crowe celebrates after scoring the sixth goal for Bohemians with team-mate Trevor Molloy after their famous 2001 victory over Shamrock Rovers. Photo: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Glen Crowe celebrates after scoring the sixth goal for Bohemians with team-mate Trevor Molloy after their famous 2001 victory over Shamrock Rovers. Photo: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Glen Crowe celebrates after scoring the sixth goal for Bohemians with team-mate Trevor Molloy after their famous 2001 victory over Shamrock Rovers. Photo: David Maher/SPORTSFILE

Tragedy. When you're 4-1 up and you lose 6-4, it's a tragedy. Football chants have never been known for their perspective, yet even 19 years on I can't hear the Bee Gees' ditty without singing along with words that relate to Bohemians' 6-4 win over Shamrock Rovers in Santry on January 29, 2001.

I've been lucky to attend a lot of matches. Picking a favourite shouldn't be easy.

The 2011 All-Ireland final deserves serious consideration and memories of Kevin McManamon's goal still deliver a similarly warm glow to the one engendered by the 6-4, while the second Test of the 2009 Lions tour will always stay with me.

I've been to great sporting cathedrals, packed to the rafters and seen athletes of the highest calibre duel it out for glory.

Yet, I'll always come back to a helter-skelter match played on a mucky, narrow pitch on a bitterly cold, gloomy day in an athletics stadium unsuited to hosting football.

The Dublin derby may be enjoying popularity these days, but on that freezing Sunday it didn't even draw the biggest crowd for a football match in the city.

That honour went to Shelbourne, who hosted Harchester United at Tolka Park for the 'Boru Rocks Dream Team Challenge'.

Fictional

On our way to Santry, we passed through Drumcondra and saw Irish people clad in the purple jerseys of the fictional team heading to watch actors from Sky One's soap opera 'Dream Team' play football when the real deal was on up the road and we wondered how it was that we were considered the niche audience.

Kick-off was delayed at Tolka to accommodate the crowds, but there were no such issues in Santry.

Morton Stadium was the latest stop on Shamrock Rovers' long and winding road to Tallaght Stadium and while Sporting Fingal managed to make the place a little more homely when they played there later in the decade, it was a terrible place to watch football in 2001.

On one side of the ground was a home stand that didn't even run from one end of the pitch to the other, while across the way - separated by a running track, some athletics paraphernalia and the pitch - was a vast, uncovered terrace for the away fans.

Even at a derby, it's hard to get worked up when the opposition fans are so far away - especially when the crowd is regularly drowned out by low-flying aircraft heading for nearby Dublin Airport and the temperature is hovering just above zero.

The first half did little to warm the heart.

Having started the season with a European run that saw them knock Aberdeen out and win away to Bundesliga side Kaiserslautern, Bohs had hit something of a rough patch and were well off league leaders Shelbourne.

It never took much for spirits to dip at Dalymount in those days and Roddy Collins' brash style meant there was little patience from the so-called notorious boo boys supporting the club.

You can imagine how the mood was at half-time then when Bohs went in 4-1 down having conceded a succession of comedy goals to Tony Grant, Sean Francis, Grant again, and Brian Byrne. Dave Hill's goal - which had made the score 1-1 was now looking a consolation.

Some people packed it in and went home and while most stayed, it was more a case of blind loyalty than deep faith.

Collins was serenaded in and out of the dressing-room with chants of 'You're getting sacked in the morning' from the gleeful green-and-white hordes. As it stood, they probably weren't wrong.

Still, his team had created chances in the first half and they re-emerged from the dressing-room a different animal.

Alex Nesovic, the big Barnsley native with a Serbian name who'd recently arrived from Finn Harps, hooked a ball home to give some hope to the travelling faithful.

It should have been dashed. Pat Deans hit the post and Shane Robinson missed a chance before Dave Morrison narrowed the gap to one with a stabbed finish.

Suddenly, Rovers were wobbling. Glen Crowe levelled, latching on to a 50 metre Hill pass that somehow sailed through untouched.

The build-up to the all-important fifth summed up the madness. Rovers went on the attack but overcommitted drastically and when Deans lost the ball, Bohs attacked in waves.

Morrison's cross found Mark Rutherford and he slotted past Robbie Horgan.

When Crowe finished the job after being afforded the freedom of north Dublin, we all hurtled down the big barren terrace towards the faraway pitch, hugging strangers in disbelief.

The win was a catalyst for Bohs' first league win in 23 years. Collins would never get to defend his title, but he'll always have the Santry Siro.

Irish Independent


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