A Leinster Senior Cup romance


The Leinster Senior Cup (LSC) is the oldest football competition in Ireland. It returned last year after a ten year absence with Shelbourne taking the glory after beating Bray Wanderers in the final. This year’s final will take place on Monday October 10th in Dalymount Park, when St. Patrick’s Athletic play Bohemians. Bohs have won the competition more than any other team, a total of 31 occasions. Shels are second in that list, winning it 19 times. Between the 1893/94 and 1916/17 seasons, nobody bar these two, Bohs and Shels, won the LSC.

McEvoy's wonder goal to level against Rovers

The first round that the Gypsies were involved in in this edition was a home quarter final draw to arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers. This fixture was originally scheduled for April, but was postponed eventually to July 4th. The first team line ups of Bohs and Rovers this season show massive differences in resources and finances in the club, as the Rovers squad is widely considered by far the best in the country. The starting XIs for this LSC quarter final tie was even more opposing.

Bohemians have been playing their “A team” in this cup, that is a reserve team, but with a huge emphasis on youth. Essentially it is an under 20s team, but there are no rules to state that older players cannot feature for the side. In the first tie of the competition, the team playing for Owen Heary’s men (Heary manages the A team) had an average ago of 19. Many of the players that day had just left school the month before.

By stark contrast, the Rovers team included many huge names. First team players like Dan Murray, Chris Turner, Paddy Kavanagh and Stephen O’Donnell – scorer of the penalty to beat Partizan Belgrade – all started for the away team. Even the David who defeated Goliath didn’t fancy Bohs’ chances.

It appeared that the “young f’llas” hadn’t a chance. The first half ended with Rovers comfortably 1-0 up, while also hitting the bar from a free kick. Yet somehow, a fantastic cross to 20-year-old Ryan McEvoy to amazingly volley it in in the second half leveled the score.

The game went to extra time. The balance of play was relatively even in the last nail-biting 30 minutes, but one would have expected the professionalism and experience of Rovers to overcome the young Bohemians team.

But – Kevin Feely had other ideas, and didn’t fancy the sound of a penalty shoot-out. The centre back smash the ball into the back of the net four minutes before the end of the 120. Despite the odds, the young, inexperienced Bohs team had beaten the professors. After the game, the emotions on the faces of Forrester and McEvoy and the rest showed that they all played with their hearts on their sleeves. They were a team with a lot of spirit and pride in the jersey, all playing for one another.

Bohs’ semi final of the tournament was also played in Dalymount Park, this time another Dublin Derby against Shelbourne. At the time of the game, Shels were flying high in the First Division. It seemed as though they had an insurmountable lead at the top of the table and were cruising their way back to the Premier Division. The A Team played again in this game, but this time ’round, Christy Fagan and Mark Rossiter started the game for Heary’s side. Besides those two, there was still the core team of young players like O’Reilly, Lopes and Feely.

Shels started the game with a predominantly first choice team. Striker Philip Hughes was the main notable absence from the team that still included Stephen Paisley, Ian Ryan and David Cassidy. Bohs overcame The Reds by two goals to nil, with both goals coming very late in a rather drab affair. However, what was worth the admission price alone was the first goal for Bohs.

Players congratulate Chris Forrester after scoring against Shelbourne

Chris Forrester collected a pass outside the box, shifted his body and had a look up at the goal. Without much else to think about, he let loose a fantastic shot that hit off the side of the post before hitting the back of the net. The creative winger with bundles of talent provided a wonderful moment of inspiration to send his team to the Cup Final.

The last game of the Cup competition will also be held in Dalyer. The third Dublin Derby that the youthful Bohemians will play will be against Inchicore’s finest. It will be the A Team that will feature again in this competition, and for the effort that the young lads have put in so far in this cup, they really deserve a cup final at the end of their season.

There’s also a chance that some senior players returning from injury could feature in the match though. Fagan and Rossi have been bereft of first team minutes of late, so they could play again like they did against Shels. For Pat’s, they lined out with a full strength side against non-league side Killester on two occasions. Firstly, they played in Killester’s home pitch and could only draw 2-2. There had to be a replay done for this tie as there weren’t any floodlights at the pitch and it was getting too dark to play extra time.

In Richmond Park in the replay, Sean O’Connor scored twice to go with goals from Danny North and Dave Mulcahy to ease past the amateur side into the final.

Pete Mahon has complained about the timing of this fixture, coming in the week where they’re scheduled to be playing Shelbourne in the semi final of the FAI Cup. Mahon has said that the FAI Cup tie will take priority over the Leinster Senior Cup, so the Pat’s team will feature reserve players and members of the under 19s team.

An extremely young team averaging an age of 19 to beat the League of Ireland champions, a goal of the season contender from an inspiring 18 year old and three Dublin Derbies. This year’s Leinster Senior Cup is packed with that fantastic “Cup Romance” feeling.

Bohemians vs St. Patrick’s Athletic, Leinster Senior Cup Final – Dalymount Park, October 10th, KO 7.45 pm. 

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