THE SCENES which followed the final whistle at a blustery Brandywell last Friday night told their own story.
was at Brandywell
PhotoS: LORCAN DOHERTY
And while supporters of the “Candy Stripes” will be familiar with the gloomy clouds which hand over Dublin’s Dalymount Park, the future of Bohemians is very much in the dark.
With debts of E4m owed to the Zurich Bank plus additional debts of E1.5 to other creditors - both understood to involve property developers who, at one stage, agreed to purchase the Phibsbro venue - Bohemians face a particularly bleak future.
The after-match scenes of a group of supporters carrying a banner proclaiming “This Isn’t The End” brought back memories of Derry’s financial difficulties in 2009 and while the Brandywell club’s problems were significant, they were not a severe as those faced by the Dubliners.
Yes, the club could cease trading prior to the start of the 2012 campaign. Bohemians could seek relegation to the First Division as they attempt to sort their problems out or, of course, find the money to keep the bank and the creditors at bay which, it must be said, would be increasing difficult given the collapse of the property market.
So the final game of the season did fashion mixed emotions as the future of every Bohemians player remains uncertain.
Near neighbours, Shelbourne, opted for relegation to the First Division but, it should be pointed out, their debts were well in excess of Bohemians’ financial difficulties and, after a period of a few years, Alan Mathews will now lead Shelbourne to Brandywell next season in the 2012 Premier Division.
So as Pat Fenlon, his staff, players and supporters await news of the future, Derry City fans will relect on what has been an excellent season.
Finishing third in the Premier Division; winning the EA Sports Cup and qualifying for both the Europa League and the Setanta Sports Cup next year with an almost all-local squad.
And while the season’s end at Brandywell was certainly greeted with increased satisfaction, worries remain on Foyleside as to the future with gate receipts falling well short of the projections for the season.
In fact, a decent attendance watched the final game last weekend but there can be no doubt that the arrival of an estimated 2,000 had been boosted with the “buy one, get one free” tickets offered by the Board of Directors on the night.
Derry lost just one game at the Brandywell - the opening fixture against Sligo Rovers have missed a penalty before the Bit O’Red netted that late, late strike - the response to that defeat had been significant, but the statisics of so many drawn games also tells its own story.
The “Candy Stripes” could, and probably should, have defeated Bohs on Friday as the home side had created the more clear-cut chances on the night yet failed to take advantage.
Glorious Chance Wasted
Eamon Zayed’s shot into the side-netting was probably the best of the first half opportunities while Bohs keeper, Barry Murphy, certainly earned his wages when denying Derry’s attacking left-back, Daniel Lafferty, on two second half occasions.
For team boss Kenny, the season has brought success with the vast majority of his supporters prepared to settle for mid-table mediocrity before the 2011 campaign had kicked-off.
“We’ve had an exceptional season,” commented Kenny afterwards. “But we don’t want to be patting ourselves on the back. We must now look forward and continue to develop a high work ethic. Last season was a great experience for our young players, but must push on if we are to compete with the other top clubs next season,” he insisted.
“It was a tremendous achievement to qualify for Europe by finishing in third spot and to win the League Cup but to compete with the likes of Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, who have greater budgets, we must continue to work hard collectively.
“Obviously, I’m delighted with what we have achieved, we may not have the resources of Rovers or Sligo, and I’m not making excuses on that front, but we’ve done well to keep in touch with them until the latter stages of the campaign. I think everyone has learned to so much, but we still need to improve,” he declared.
With the blustery wind basically spoiling Friday night’s match as a spectacle, there was no shortage of graft and endeavour from both teams and, if the truth be told, it would have been considered one of the better scoreless draws given the conditions.
Kenny, however, felt that Bohemians 4-5-1 formation has served only to congest the midfield area and making things difficult given the unfavourable elements.
“We didn’t give a brillian display and, overall, it was not a good game, but we without a few players and, of course, had to re-arrange our back four which recorded a clean sheet, which was not bad.
“Bohemians may have financial difficulties, but they also have very good players but, in the end, I think we might have edged it given that it was us who created the clear-cut scoring chances.
“I don’t remember Gerard (Doherty) have been tested during the game but their keeper pulled off two superb stops to deny Daniel Lafferty who gave us a great attacking option from left-back,” noted Kenny.
And with two Millwall representatives situated in the Glentoran Stand, it will be interesting to see if the Championship club make an official approach for a player who has enjoyed a superb season since his return home from Celtic.
At the end the only major disappointment was the dismissal of Derry centre-half, Emmet Friars and Bohs. substitute, Christy Fegan, for what appeared an off-the-ball altercation after the final whisle - referee Tomas Connolly flashing a red card at each player.
DERRY CITY - 4-4-2 - Doherty; McCallion, S. McEleney, Friars, Lafferty; P. McEleney, Molloy, Higgins (Henry, h-t), McLaughlin; Farren (McDaid, 80 mins.), Zayed.
BOHEMIANS - 4-5-1 - Murphy; O’Brien, Burns, Heary, Cahill; Traynor, Cronin, Flood, Rossiter (Buckley, h-t), Forrester (Hurley, h-t); Downes (Fagan, 83).
REFEREE - Mr. T. Connolly (Dublin).