The nights may be getting brighter but in sporting terms last Friday was certainly a dark one for me. To start with I had a dilemma – there was a clash between the televised Ireland versus Wales rugby game and the Bray Wanderers encounter with Bohemians in Dalymount Park in the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division. I reckoned both Ireland and Bray could win. If I missed the rugby I could at least record it and watch it later. If I missed the soccer all I’d get was a few minutes on Soccer Republic. I went to Dalymount.
I got there early so went into the bar under the stand. As I savoured my Five Lamps beer I had a look around the bar before it filled up. Amongst the posters on the wall for the various rock concerts that have been held in Dalymount over the years, one in particular caught my eye as it had the name of my favourite group [Fairport Convention] on it.
The concert dated from 40 years ago [August 1977], and was possibly Dublin’s first major all-day open-air rock festival. Fairport were on a bill that also included The Boomtown Rats and was headlined by Thin Lizzy. The festival doubled as a 28th birthday bash for Phil Lynott. Lizzy were about to release their 8th studio album, Bad Reputation; Fairport had just released their own 12th, The Bonny Bunch of Roses.
At the time of that concert Bohemians were setting out on a season that would end with them crowned 1977-78 League of Ireland champions, narrowly pipping Finn Harps for the title in much the same way that they themselves had been just edged out by Sligo Rovers for the 1976-77 title.
The league seemed to change membership numbers quite often back then. 14 teams contested the 1976-77 season, 16 the following season. There was a team from Cork in the league back then that seemed to change its name with alarming regularity too – Albert Rovers FC started the 1976-77 season but by the end of 1977-78 they had changed their name twice, first to Cork Albert FC and then to Cork Alberts FC. A bit like the way Fairport Convention never stuck with a line-up for long in those days – even though they had only been going 10 years by the time they appeared in Dalymount they were already on their 20th line-up!
Turlough O’Connor would finish the 1977-78 season as top scorer, netting 24 of the 74 goals Bohs would score in their 30 games. 2 other Bohs players, Joey Salmon [with 12 goals] and Pat Byrne [with 10] would also make the top 10 scorers chart for the season.
Bohemians 2017 certainly know how to score too. It took character to come back from 0-2 down [after John Sullivan and Dylan Connolly had scored early in the second half for Bray] but a brace from Daniel Corcoran and a Keith Ward effort secured all three points in front of a packed Dalymount Park. It wasn’t nice to be on the receiving end of such a defeat but it was good to see the character that Keith Long has instilled in his players.
I was following the Ireland Wales rugby game on social media during the match [I watched it through when I got home even though I knew the result] and the news wasn’t good. A bit like Bray, Ireland had started well but went on to make too many errors. Neither Ireland nor Bray played their best but were by no means disgraced.
You get dark nights in sport. They make the next bright night all the sweeter. Wanderers didn’t have to wait long for the next bright one – the visit of Drogheda United to the Carlisle on Monday saw us record a 2-1 win thanks to goals from Aaron Greene and Dylan Connolly. Martin O’Neill was at the game. Perhaps he can mastermind Ireland getting their revenge on Wales, albeit in a different sport, when we play them later this month!