Thursday, March 12, 2009
A trip to Dublin two weekends ago was kicked off by a trip to Dalymount Park to attend a preseason friendly between Bohemians and Shelbourne FC (Feb. 28, 2009). Bohemians eventually prevailed, although well after our daughter decided that it was time for us to head home late in the second half.
The stadium is a great place to watch soccer and the atmosphere for the match was excellent. The perspective from the seats is the closest that I have been to the pitch outside of Ludwig Field:
The soccer itself was enjoyable -- Irish soccer is exceedingly physical and even in a friendly match, bone-crunching tackles were the rule rather than the exception. Players were run down, but would pop back up and get back to business; a welcome respite from the lamentations that follow even the most meager of physical contact elsewhere (the CONCACAF match-up between the Montreal Impact and Club Santos Laguna took this style of play to ridiculous levels).
Most of the players could be adequately described as "honest." Work rates were high, passing was crisp and precise, but their was little creativity on display, only workmanship. So it was particularly remarkable when new Bohemian-signing Joseph Ndo was introduced in the second half. The tone of the entire match changed with his substitution. Although a bizarre curling back pass to the goalie by Ndo from one-third of the way up the field nearly ended in disaster, Ndo controlled the rest of the match (at least for the time we were there). The game became far more exciting, Ndo was clearly dangerous, and Shelbourne redoubled efforts on defense to parry the threat (while, at the same time, giving Ndo a massive amount of space to work). And, of course, Ndo was responsible for the game-winner in Bohemians' first fixture of the season away against Dundalk.