Dawson Devoy, little surprise to those fortunate enough to have seen him this season, seized the show at the Aviva Stadium as Bohemians cantered into the second qualifying round of the Europa Conference League with a 3-0 hammering of Stjarnan.

Whilst two Georgie Kelly goals give credence to the idea he was the star man, Liam Burt adding the cake's icing, there was no getting away from the swagger and potential of Devoy, a technician of rare quality with an Irish passport. He looks a certain future Ireland international, whatever else befalls in what could be a fine career as a footballer.

It was mainly the Dawson show - and what a show it was after these painful and many months of a pandemic without football crowds, as Bohemians revelled in a rare occasion and the prospect of even better down the road.


On the walk down the canal immortalised by Patrick Kavanagh, past Ballsbridge towards Lansdowne Road, it was impossible to escape how big Bohemians have become as a club. One might have thought this was a full house, so many were the home fans enjoying the balmy evening, happy to have a semblance of footballing normality again; with the volume of Bohs kits scattered about testament to the growth of the Dublin 7 side in that community.

True, there were also Galway United and Waterford fans spotted enjoying a football game again, but one wonders how many tickets Bohs could have sold for this game if they had the ability to - and this a Conference League tie against a run-of-the-mill Icelandic mob few in Ireland can pronounce let alone spell.

Whilst little over 10% of the seats were filled, Bohs fans were intent on making such noise as to bely that. The Old Triangle got a rendition that mocked how few were in the vast arena, a theme in keeping with the raucous roar for the Bohs team as they greeted the beautiful turf of the old place.

One could tell that the visiting Nordic players, as they surveyed it all, were relishing the prospect of playing in a venue like this.

A scrappy start it might have been but the Dubliners were immediately looking dangerous when Devoy found Georgie Kelly in the box but the visitors wrestled back the ball; moments later an incisive Devoy pass had Haraladur Bjornsson scampering to gather in nets.

Bohs were bossing things. As the crowd implored Devoy to shoot on 13 minutes he did just that, with his fine strike deflected wide; in the next attack, a beautiful Tyreke Wilson cross had to be turned away by Brynjar Gudjónsson.

Devoy twisted, turned and twisted again on 18 minutes, but with the top corner his aim, he instead found an area closer to the big screen at the town end. Had Ross Tierney controlled better moments later, he had a tap in.

Rory Feely had a really shaky start for Bohs, giving the ball away frequently, and was sloppy when being dispossessed midway through the half. Ejólfur Hédinsson was through on goal but lacked the pace to capitalise and Feely clumsily but perhaps wisely bundled him over. The free-kick did not trouble James Talbot.

The lead goal involved Devoy and Kelly again. The superb Meathman was hardly expecting to collect an Ali Coote corner at the edge of the box but so it was 11 minutes before the break; he jinked his way past two Stjarnan players and, while he was shooting rather than passing to Kelly, the latter didn't mind connecting to give Bjornsson no chance.

Stjarnan, who had offered next to nothing, nearly equalised shortly afterwards. Wilson really should have blocked Casper Sloth's cross but it made its way to Emil Atlason, whose flick failed to bother Talbot.

It probably should have been 2-0 as half-time approached. Tierney fed Kelly but the ball slipped through to Burt, who forced a Bjornsson save from a stinging drive. Tierney then drilled wide as the break neared, Bohs comfortable but not out of reach.

At half-time, the PA told the Bohs patrons that Lansdowne Road was the fifth different venue the club had used for home games in Europe. They've visited Oriel Park and even Flower Lodge in their days playing foreign opposition but, on this evidence, they will return to the Aviva Stadium at whatever the opportunity.

College Corinthians, based not too far from Flower Lodge, are the Gypsies' FAI Cup opponents next week; perhaps trips to Dublin 4 may yet be relatively habitual for the red and black in 2021.

Feely will hope for a better performance if that happens and he was taken off for Rob Cornwall at the interval, Bohs coach Keith Long deciding that it was too risky to keep the carded defender on the pitch for 45 more minutes.

Stjarnan started the second half relatively well and, from what must have been about 45 yards, what looked a Hail Mary strike from big Brynjar Gudjónsson saw Talbot scurry backward, tipping over. That was about as good as it got for a side struggling domestically and here.

There was an element of fortune about Bohs and Kelly's second on 54 minutes as initially he had lost the ball, and it then cannoned off Devoy's head into the unlikely path of Burt. He went straight for the box and the goal but, like a scavenger snatching a kill that wasn't his, Kelly gleefully dispossessed his own player and curled adroitly into the back of the net.

Kelly then looked to be through again and claimed that he was being fouled but Gibraltar whistler Jason Lee Barcelo was unimpressed.

If the skill that made the first goal were good, Devoy perhaps upstaged that with a stunning cross on his left foot to Tierney 62 minutes in but the Ballymun kid, who has worked his way up the ranks alongside Devoy and the brilliant Andy Lyons, could only head wide.

Devoy and his old buddy Tierney might be different players and perhaps the latter has a technical edge but Tierney has been sensational this season and his nonchalant backheel afforded Devoy the chance to score a goal that his performance merited and then some; however, his shot from inside the box was blocked away.

Burt has been a revelation for Bohs this term, a left-field signing from Scotland, and he bundled home from Keith Buckley's clever pass to seal the deal with 15 minutes to play.

The ever-impressive Lyons should probably have teed up Kelly for a hat-trick but he overplayed his cross, aware that it made no odds at this stage. For Kelly, who never really got going at St Patrick's last season, the transformation across the Liffey has been pretty astounding.

Daniel Laxdal's last-gasp clearance off the line denied Devoy the goal the crowd wished would come his way. He made his way off just afterwards, perhaps the biggest game of his life coming to an end.

Up next in this fledgling third-tier competition for Bohs, on their first European foray beyond the first round in several years is F91 Dudelange of Luxembourg. That will represent a tougher test than this but there's a lot to be said for momentum. There's a lot to be said for people going to sporting events again.

And there's a lot to be said for Dawson Devoy.

Bohemian: Talbot; Lyons, C Kelly, Feely, Wilson (Breslin 71); Buckley, Devoy (Mullins 89); Coote, Tierney (Levingston 71), Burt (Ward 79); G Kelly.

Stjarnan: H Bjornsson; Aegisson, Gudjonsson, Laxdal, E Bjornsson; Clausden (Ingvarsson 70), Hédinsson (Gudmundsson 80), Sloth (Ingolfsson 89); Ragnarsson (Bjornsson 70), Atalson (Haurits 70), Halldorsson.

Referee: Jason Lee Barcelo (Gibraltar)