Report from John Manning at Tallaght Stadium
Craig Sexton’s Bohemians defended their SSE Airtricity U19 League title and secured an historic double as they outgunned Shamrock Rovers on a cold autumnal night at the Tallaght Stadium.
Over 1,300 paying customers saw Ali Reghba’s first-half strike give Bohs a deserved 1-0 win as they added the SSE Airtricity U19 League title to their Enda McGuill Cup success earlier in the season.
Bohs threatened early after Promise Omochere was fouled in the fifth minute following a scything run, but Jamie Hamilton’s free-kick deflected over the bar, off the wall.
The away side opened the brighter as Omochere continued to make life difficult for the Rovers rearguard with his probing runs throughout the contest. Bohemians continued to threaten as Ryan Graydon sent Ali Reghba through the centre with a fantastic through-ball but the striker was flagged offside, as his shot went over in the 20th minute.
As the game approached the half-hour, Bohs spurned a wonderful chance to take the lead. A quick-break led to a superb pass by Ali Reghba which put Ryan Graydon through, but Kian Clarke got down well to save Graydon’s low shot from the edge of the box.
Rovers took this as a warning signal and began to play their best football moments later as Emmanuel Lawal’s half-volley flew wide and Dean Williams’ low-angled shot rolled agonizingly across the goalmouth, but wide.
Sean Bohan had to be alert to deny Williams in the 36th minute after a lovely through-ball by Brandon Kavanagh. The follow-up by Kenny Cunningham was again parried by the impressive Bohs’ netminder.
Ironically, having grown into the game, Rovers were undone in the 39th minute. Having switched wings with Danny Grant, Omochere won a header from a long defensive clearance. Ryan Graydon’s perfect through-ball released Reghba who shimmied past Clarke and tapped the ball into the empty net.
Just two minutes later, Graydon went narrowly wide with a long-range daisycutter as the Phibsboro men attempted to turn the screw.
Bohemians continued their dominance into the second-half and just four minutes after the break, Regbha’s lob was well saved by Clarke after good work by Omochere.
Bohs survived a 50th minute penalty appeal when Brandon Kavanagh went down in the box and they almost secured the win five minutes later. Man of the Match Jamie Hamilton essayed a curler that narrowly missed the left-hand upright which invited Rovers back into the contest.
Sean Callan’s free-header from a Brandon Kavanagh corner forced a superb save by Bohan and with Rovers on top at this stage, the Bohs keeper was called into action once again after a superb run and shot by Bolger was well saved with 20 minutes remaining.
Bohs still looked menacing at times on the counter and it required a glorious save in the 73rd minute by Clarke to deny Graydon, after the No.10 was put through by substitute Christian Magerusan.
Rovers had their best chance of the game with just 15 minutes remaining but Brandon Kavanagh’s fierce left-footed drive rebounded back into play off the Bohs’ crossbar.
Kavanagh had one final opportunity in the last minute of injury time but flashed his free kick past the post as Bohemians lifted the SSE Airtricity U19 League title at the home of their fierce rivals.
Shamrock Rovers: Kian Clarke; Cian Collins, Adam O’Connor, Sean Callan (captain) Conor Gleeson; Darren Prendergast (Thomas Oluwa, 81, Eric Abulu, 90+1), Emmanuel Lawal, Aaron Bolger, Brandon Kavanagh, Kenny Cunningham (Evan White, 72); Dean Williams.