Bohemians focused for final surge to title

THE penultimate game of the season could land Bohemians the ultimate prize in domestic football.

Holding a one point advantage with two games to go, Pat Fenlon’s men travel to Terryland Park tonight knowing victory over Galway United – coupled with defeat for Shamrock Rovers at home to Drogheda United – would see the Dalymount Park side win the Airtricity League title for the third season in-a-row.

However, the prospect of Rovers losing to bottom-of-the-table Drogs is sufficiently unlikely that it will be a surprise if the battle for the 2010 crown doesn’t extend to the final round of games next Friday, when Bohs will be at home to Dundalk and Rovers travel to Bray.

And, according to Bohs defender and PFAI player of the year nominee Brian Shelley, if there is an upside to having been denied a place in the FAI Cup final by Sligo Rovers, it’s that Bohs can now train their sights exclusively on the final two games of the league campaign.

“We’re all focused on one thing now,” he says. “We don’t have the distraction now of playing in the final in the Aviva – not that that wouldn’t have been a nice one – but we’ve got tunnel vision now on getting to the Dundalk game and needing to win that to win the league.”

Shelley insists no seeds of doubt about Bohs’ ability to retain their one-point advantage have been sown by the loss in the cup semi-final to a Sligo side which he describes as the best League of Ireland team he’s come against in the last two years.

“No, definitely not,” he said. “The cup semi was a one-off night — we didn’t perform and Sligo were excellent — but I don’t think it’s going to effect the last two games.”

By contrast, Shamrock Rovers striker Gary Twigg is hoping their cup semi-final replay win against St Patrick’s Athletic will herald an upsurge in fortunes for a Hoops side which, over recent weeks, has frittered away its once commanding lead in the league.

“Tuesday was massive for everyone at the club,” says Twigg.

“Obviously we’d been on a disappointing run and to get that behind us was great and hopefully it can kick-start us for the last two league games and the final itself,’’ said Twigg.

“All we can do is win the games and hope Bohs slip up. It’s theirs to win now but if they do slip up we need to be able to capitalise on it.”

The Galway-Bohs match at Terryland Park is live on RTÉ Two and kicks off at 7.45 while the Rovers-Drogheda game in Tallaght begins at 8pm.

Elsewhere in the Premier Division, Dundalk play Sporting Fingal, St Patrick’s Athletic do battle with Bray Wanderers and UCD face Sligo Rovers, all 7.45.

Meanwhile, First Division, leaders Derry City can take a giant step towards the title in their northwest derby against Finn Harps at the Brandywell (7.45). With Monaghan United, three points behind the Candystripes, not playing Mervue United until tomorrow, Waterford United could overtake them in second place – at least for one night – if they can get the better of Athlone Town at the RSC (7.45).

Shelbourne, who are also in contention for a play-off place, are away to Limerick at Jackman Park (7.45) while Cork City are home to Salthill Devon (7.45) and Longford Town host Wexford Youths (8pm).

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