AARON: YOU NEVER KNOW WHERE A GOOD START CAN TAKE YOU

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Bohemians kick off their league campaign with the second of three early-season meetings with UCD – and boss Aaron Callaghan wants the Gypsies to start as they mean to go on.

Callaghan is keen to make a winning start on Friday (Dalymount, kick-off 7.45pm) and is confident that his squad is much better prepared than at the same time last year.

“We have been able to put a bit of shape and structure on the team but we will see better when we have played a few league games,” Callaghan said.

“A good start can give you momentum, as Drogheda demonstrated last year. It can help the confidence of both the players and the fans and you never know where it can take you.”

Callaghan firmly believes his squad can improve on last season.

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“The lads are hungry. Their attitude in training has been fantastic and we hope that will manifest itself in match performances. There’s a desire there to do well and I believe we can win a trophy.”

The manager is not fazed by last month’s extra-time defeat to UCD in the Leinster Senior Cup.

“There was nothing between the teams. They play a similar game to us and their fitness levels are high. But the line-up of both sides will look very different on Friday from what it was.”

Callaghan expects his counterpart Martin Russell to make “five or six” changes for Friday and he himself could be making as many EIGHT changes.

The manager is delighted to have retained 15 of last year’s squad, as the slow start in 2012 was at least partly down to players learning new approaches.

“The fact that we kept so many, and who can help new players coming in, is very good from our point of view.”

Callaghan also believes he has a squad with cover for all positions, and thus competition for starting places. However, he already has a fairly clear idea what his best 11 might look like but “nobody can rest on their laurels, they need to keep their standards high”.

The pre-season schedule has taken a small toll on the players. Shane Fitzgerald (ankle), Kevin Devaney (ankle) and Kevin O’Leary (illness) are not available for Friday.

On Monday 11th March, Bohemians again host UCD at Dalymount Park in the EA Sports Cup (kick-off 7.45pm).

(Pic: UCD’s Michael Leahy and Bohs winger Keith Buckley at last week’s Airtricity League launch at the Aviva Stadium)

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