Friday’s 3-0 win over Cork City ensured that Bohemians will finish at least second in the 2020 SSE Airtricity League Premier Division; they don’t need to look over their shoulders from here on in. It would take a major home-straight collapse by Shamrock Rovers to hand the title to the Dalymount Park outfit – and I don’t expect that to happen – but second place would be a great achievement for Bohemians.
Last year The Gypsies finished third, a significant step forward from a run of mid-table finishes stretching back over the last decade. Second spot this term would be the first time since 2010 that the club has hit that mark, a finish that followed on from the title win in 2009 and FAI Cup success over Derry City in 2008 [their most recent in that competition].
Barring a miracle though the title will be heading to Tallaght stadium for the first time since 2011. This will be the first time it will have returned to Dublin since St Patrick’s Athletic won it in 2013. With a Dublin one-two the outcome this year no matter what, the dominance of Dundalk and Cork has been well and truly broken.
Both Rovers and Bohemians are reaping the rewards now of backing their managers and leaving them in place for the long haul [Keith Long has been at Dalymount Park since 2014 and Stephen Bradley at Tallaght since 2016]. Unless unlimited funds are available – something that is not the case in our domestic set-up – a coach can only build a successful squad if given time. It’s not just about getting the right man in place, it’s also about leaving him there to grow into the role and move the team forward gradually.
Rovers and Bohemians have had their periods of dominance down through the decades. Perhaps the next golden for Dublin soccer is being born, with both sides set to challenge consistently for top honours over the next few years. Then there’s the European adventures that domestic success brings.
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention Bray Wanderers’ excellent result in Tallaght on Saturday. The 2-0 away win – courtesy of goals from Darragh Lynch and Derek Daly – means that The Seagulls are five points ahead of Drogheda, who have a game in hand. With just Galway at home next Friday and Athlone away the following week, Bray have their destiny in their own hands.