Match attendance had been declining for thirty years. Still, in 2009 attendance rose unexpectedly, mainly due to Shamrock Rovers‘ move to Tallaght Stadium and the Bohemians’ status as league champions; attendance tripled from the previous meeting. After the final whistle, Tallaght Stadium filled with whistles; several Shamrock Rovers fans gathered upstairs in the tunnel to give the referee one last try, with bohemian fans chanting that they would win the championship as their players bowed forward. A few minutes later, the Rovers fans returned to the songs of Bohemians FC.
The Bohemians sold out all Bohemians tickets, warned fans not to go to Tallaght Stadium without a ticket, and paraded 1,100 fans around Dublin. Fans from Bohemia have moved up to the second place and were less than five points behind their rivals, who remain at the top of the table. Although Bohs-Shamrock has won more titles than any other club in the country, they have not been crowned champions since 2011, while Bohemia’s period of infertility continues for another two years in 2009.
Many would cite the classic 1970s fights as the starting point of their history, but in fact, the rivalry can be traced back to 1915, when the Bohemians defeated Bohs-Shamrock 3-0 in the Leinster Cup. One of the 30 cups they hold today. In January 2001, Bohs-Shamrock and Bohs met at Sultry in what was one of the most violent clashes between rivals.
Interestingly, in the 1960s, Bohemian and Rovers had another successful club in Dublin: Drumcondra. Over the next two decades, as Bohemian F.C. moved down the league table, Dublin’s great north-south rivalry would be between Drumcondra F.C. and Rovers, in what many consider to be the peak of League of Ireland competition. The first contested rivalry was between Bohemian and Shelbourne, clubs from Dublin who played in the Belfast-dominated Irish Football League from the early 1900s to the 1920s. Shelbourne.
With six Dublin clubs competing in the Irish League and some clubs disbanding over the years, Dublin City hosts several derbies each season. Most league derbies occur due to the geographical proximity to many Dublin clubs. Due to the importance of the first rivalry, the media has often described it as Dublin’s second most competitive match. Still, traditionally, Shelburne vs. Bohemians vs. Shamrock Wanderers has historically been called by fans for their main competitors. Shelbourne is based at Tolka Park in Drumcondra and The Bohemians at Dalymount Park in Phibsborough. Although the race is called the Northside Derby, Shelbourne was actually established in Ringsend, south of Dublin, and did not move to Tolka Park until 1989 (although Shelbourne played there). Sometimes in their history, which intensified the first contentious rivalry as they were thought to be entering Bohemian territory.
Although the last few seasons have been dominated by significant Dundalk and Cork City teams, the rivalry between Bohs and Rovers remains the most important fixture on the Irish football calendar. For both clubs, reflecting on the history of 28 League of Ireland titles between the two clubs – Bohs-Shamrock at 17 and Bohemians at 11 – can often be more exciting than anticipating a future that looks set to continue Dundalk’s rise.