“In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on Danny Mandroiu.”
Friday night’s Dublin derby was an absolutely brilliant showcase of everything that makes the League of Ireland special, as Bohemians once again got the better of their bitter rivals Shamrock Rovers.
A sold-out Dalymount Park witnessed a fantastic game of Friday night football, which saw drama, tension and quality of the highest order. The perfect 90 minutes, which would turn any non-believer into an instant League of Ireland fan.
There was, however, a standout performer among the chaos, a man with the coolest head in the most heated of environments and whose winning goal will live long in Dublin derby folklore.
An ode to you, Daniel Mandroiu.
Over the last eight games between the two sides, Bohemians have had a bizarre hold over their Dublin rivals Rovers.
No matter their form, injury issues, whether the game is in Dalymount of Tallaght, Bohs have been able to get the better of the Hoops time and time again without fail.
Friday night’s game was bizarre. Rovers were arguably the better side and James Talbot was unquestionably the busier of the two goalkeepers, but it was the mercurial Mandroiu who swung the derby to the red and black half of Dublin.
The 20-year old plays the game at his pace and his pace alone. He saunters around the field with an unwavering air of confidence as if this game, this night, these fans, were all here entirely to see him and him alone, play.
“Nothing fazes him..his cool, calm and collected air may be infuriating at times, but you know more often than not he’s going to do something special,” read a piece by Tony Magner in the pre-match programme.
Prophetic, to say the least. Mandroiu probably had a quiet game by his standards, yet he still could’ve had four goals and was awarded the man of the match.
In the first half, when Jack Byrne clumsily brought down Ryan Swan in the Bohemians penalty area, the referee pointed to the spot and Mandroiu took the ball.
It was a great penalty, but an even better save, from Alan Mannus.
Against the run of play, it was a massive chance to give his side the lead in the biggest game of the season. The Rovers fans celebrated as if they themselves had scored, it was a blow for Mandroiu, for Bohs.
What was most impressive though was how the young midfielder didn’t let the miss affect him. He continued to play his calm and collected game, before getting the chance to redeem himself from the spot just ten minutes later.
There was never any hesitation or questions surrounding whether Mandroiu would take the second penalty or not. Self-belief is one of his finest traits as a footballer.
“I’m always calm in front of goal,” he said in his post-match interview. Different side, different result. A familiar feeling for Shamrock Rovers.
From there Mandroiu showed glimpses, a lovely touch past a player, a neat pass into his striker’s feet. It was as if, the 20-year old knew what he would do in the second half, but why would he give away the ending of this back and forth blockbuster so early?
Shamrock Rovers equalised early in the second 45, a really neat finish from Dan Carr after a deft flick over the Bohemians defence from Ronan Finn, yet still, Mandroiu played the game at his pace.
Challenges flew in and the midfield battle became feisty, the game had all the hallmarks of the fiercest of derbies. There will however always be room an unequivocal piece of magic in even the most heated of games.
“I like nice goals! I don’t like the little scrappy ones”
Another prophecy from Mandroiu. 58 minutes gone on the clock and the ball finds its way to the 20-year old, 30 yards from goal, the Rovers defenders are deep while their midfielders have lost him.
“Ladies and gentlemen, take your seats, the show is about to begin!”
The ball is on Mandroiu’s bad side and as he lines it up, it takes a split second in real time but at Dalymount, time stands still. He’s nearly 30 yards from goal, on his weaker foot and with the Rovers defence ahead of him, yet there’s an odd sense of expectation.
It’s almost like, having seen Mandroiu this season, the Bohemians faithful had become accustomed to what he can do. There’s an indescribable air of inevitability as if the world stood still for a moment and for that split second Danny Mandroiu’s left foot was the only thing in the world that mattered.
– Credit EirSport
Maybe Bohemians fans, in the moment, harked their minds back to the first game of the season. To this, against UCD.
– Credit RTE
Or could they have remembered this against St Pats?
Credit Domestic Ireland on YouTube
It was another spectacular strike and one worthy of winning any game, anywhere in the world. Mandroiu probably should’ve had his hattrick late on when his header was wonderfully saved by Mannus, but it wouldn’t quite have been as easy on the eye as his second, would it?
Maybe it was for the best.
Credit – EirSport
Infuriating at times, maybe, but Danny Mandroiu is the kind of player that Irish football is crying out for. A talent you would pay the entrance fee to see regardless of who and where he was playing.
It may be a few years away yet, but who in the current Irish senior side plays the game as Mandroiu does? Arguably no one.
Go and watch him play. Go to Dalymount, Tallaght, Turners Cross, Finn Park. Danny Mandroiu is a special talent at our doorstep. Enjoy him while you still can.