Bohemians claim 33rd Leinster Senior Cup

Intermediate Ussher Celtic no match for League stalwarts Bohs.

Bohemians FC 5 – 0 Ussher Celtic

18/9/23, Dalymount Park

Bohemians made light work of Islandbridge based Ussher Celtic, who ply their trade in the Senior 1 Sunday League, the highest Intermediate division in the Leinster FA. After a great run where they beat League of Ireland sides Drogheda Utd and Bray Wanderers, Ussher’s bid to become the sixth non-league side to win the Leinster Senior Cup came to an end. But, this must represent a high water mark for a club that folded in 2012, being re-established in 2015. The manager himself, Wesley Doyle, who along with the late Tony O’ Rourke reformed the club, must feel proud of his achievements over the last 8 years.

A crowd of 3,093 passed through the turnstiles in Dalymount Park, with a good show of traveling support. The strong attendance, a far cry from the crowd of 500-odd people who watched the last final in 2019, is another sign of the times domestic Irish soccer; an increased interest nationally and rising attendances, especially in Dublin. Compare to 2013’s average league attendance of 1,700, it’s plain to see that things are on the up. It’s worth mentioning that last Monday night was one of the few matches at Dalymount where a patron could buy a ticket the day before the match, never-mind pay at the gate, which was the case Monday night.

Declan McDaid makes it 2-0, courtesy of Stephen Burke

The 3,000 strong crowd must be of great comfort to the Leinster FA, hopefully guaranteeing that the 26 counties’ oldest Cup will be back again next year. Founded in part by our own Dublin University AFC in 1892, twelve years after the Irish FA and 31 years before the FAI, the Leinster Cup was an important part of the calendar, playing second fiddle to the Belfast based Irish Cup. While cracks were apparent between Dublin and Belfast due to the IFA suspending operations during the first World war and the LFA not, the War of Independence turned that crack into a chasm, with clubs refusing to travel interprovincially for safety reasons. The row suddenly came to a head in 1921 when arguments over a replay led the LFA to leave the IFA and form the FAI. From then on, the Leinster Cup was a much more important trophy than it is today. 

However, the rise of the league of Ireland and the European spots associated with it, the FAI Cup and the recently defunct league cup, diminished its prestige. The Foot and Mouth crisis in 2001 finally did away with it, and the cup that had been played through both world wars endured its first break. Re-inaugurated in 2009, only covid has stopped it since.

While there is life in the old cup yet, the final was pretty lifeless not long after half time when Bohs hit their 3rd, 4th and 5th goals in quick succession. An early opportunity for Celtic, one-on-one with the Bohs ‘keeper Luke Dennison, was wasted, with goal opportunities for Ussher being few and far between for the next 85 or so minutes. James McCormack put the Gypsies in front 9 minutes in, with McDaid extending the lead 39 minutes in. 8 minutes after the break, with great defensive work on display by Ussher, Kris Twardek scored. Ten minutes later Chris Lotefa made it 4-0, with Ali Coote scoring directly from the kick off.

While not the greatest match of all time, its reassuring to know that the legacy of the oldest cup in the South is capturing the paying public’s attention, even though pulses might not be racing. With Cian Byrne receiving the Cup on a cold Phibsboro night, the Bohs faithful can enter their FAI Cup semi final with a clear conscience, knowing that their trophy cabinet won’t be empty this year.

Billy Gilmore on the ball for Bohs

Billy Gilmore on the ball for Bohs, Courtesy of Stephen Bourke