“Our attitude, our discipline and our desire has got to be right. If it is, we have a good chance.”

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS
Dalymount Park, Friday May 25 2018, 7.45pm

MATCH SPONSORS: Community Credit Union – serving Dublin 7 & 15
MATCHBALL SPONSORS: Hedigan’s, The Brian Boru

The build-up at both Bohemians and Shamrock Rovers to this week’s Dublin derby has unusually been dominated by talk of Ireland call-ups.

For a fixture that tends to generate considerable hype as it is, it’s unchartered territory for both camps.

Graham Burke of Shamrock Rovers did enough in his appearance for the Ireland XI against Celtic in Scott Brown’s testimonial last week to convince Martin O’Neill he was worthy of a place in the squad for a full international.

Likewise, when O’Neill and assistant Roy Keane came to Dalymount to see Bohs face Dundalk last Friday, he was suitably impressed by goalkeeper Shane Supple’s performance to believe he too merited a call-up for Monday’s friendly away to France and Saturday’s friendly against the USA at the Aviva Stadium.

Both players are available for tomorrow’s game but given the pressures and attention that derby weeks bring, rival managers Keith Long and Stephen Bradley could be forgiven for thinking the call-ups are an unwanted distraction.

But Long won’t entertain such a suggestion.

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It’s nearly nine years since a Bohs player last received an Ireland call-up.

Coincidentally it was also a goalkeeper and coincidentally it was also against France as Brian Murphy hooked up with Giovanni Trapattoni’s squad for both legs of that infamous World Cup play-off.

You have to go back even further to 2003 for the last time a Bohemians player received game-time in an Ireland shirt.

Brian Kerr handed Glen Crowe the second of his two senior caps off the bench against Norway at Lansdowne Road after the striker made his debut as a starter under caretaker boss Don Givens, assisted by Bohs legend Billy Young, five months previously away to Greece.

Long said: “It hasn’t been a hindrance to us in the run-up to tomorrow’s game. The call-ups are a pleasant surprise for both clubs, particularly in the week leading up to the derby.

“We see Shane’s quality week in week out. We feel it’s a deserved accolade for him. He is an extremely level-headed bloke and he wouldn’t allow it to become a distraction.”

For Supple to be on the verge of international recognition at 31 years of age is remarkable.

His journey has been well-documented: Regular starter at Ipswich Town in the Championship, returning home to concentrate on his GAA career with St Brigid’s and Dublin, returning to soccer with Crumlin United, signing for Bohs 18 months ago and, as recently as last month, deciding to quit GAA to focus on his soccer career once more.

Long said: “You could say he’s had a journey, a back catalogue… a story to tell!

“We were delighted to be able to sign him when we did. He’s a natural leader and a massive figure around the club.

“Shane was destined for a career in the UK and walked away from it of his own accord.

“The likelihood is international recognition could have come his way a long time ago.

“So this is great for him. At 31 years of age playing in the League of Ireland, it doesn’t happen that often. We are all delighted for him.”

But all talk of Ireland recognition will be put to one side as Dublin’s great rivals come head to head at Dalymount Park tomorrow night.

The Gypsies have had the bragging rights the last three times the sides have met, yet Long is keen to hammer home once more that previous victories count for nothing.

He said: “I watched Rovers against St Pat’s on Wednesday. They looked very strong and have some good players on form.

“Previous games and results between us don’t matter tomorrow.

“They’ve shown they are capable of getting result against anyone in the league so we have to be at our very best.

“Our attitude, our discipline and our desire has got to be right. If it is, we have a good chance.”

Bohs are buoyed by the return of Derek Pender to the squad.

Supple has worn the captain’s armband in recent months in Pender’s absence. But the man of the moment could be forced to surrender that if Long deems his skipper ready to start.

Long said: “Derek’s in the squad tomorrow. It’s great to have him back as he is a leader and a quality player.

“He’s missed a full series of game and had a couple of set-backs along the way when he was nearing return.

“That was frustrating for him and frustrating for us but hopefully we’ll have him for the rest of the season.”

Bohs come into this game on the back of a 2-0 home defeat to Dundalk.

Long watched that from the stands as he served a one-match ban for being sent off against Waterford last month.

He added: “We were reasonably pleased with the performance but disappointed with the result.

“We had chances and if we’d taken them, it could have been a different game.

“Dundalk are that bit more experienced and clinical.

“But there were positives to take from it. Paddy Kirk, who came through our U19s, making his first start and he was there on merit.

“He’s been knocking on the door for a while now and he stood up for the challenge.

“It wasn’t a token gesture. It’s a justified reward for his attitude and hard work.”

TEAM NEWS

Derek Pender (calf) returns.

Colin McCabe (shoulder), Darragh Leahy (knee), Karl Moore (ankle), Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal), Ryan Swan (cruciate) remain out.

“we can put it up to anyone in this league”

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
Friday May 18 2018, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

MATCH SPONSOR: Yvolve Sports
MATCHBALL SPONSOR: Killian Molloy

Keith Long wants his Bohemians side to “have a go” when top-of-the table Dundalk come to Dalymount Park tonight.

Buoyed by back-to-back league victories for the first time this term, Long’s side are relishing the challenge of taking on the country’s form team.

The Gypsies have won plaudits for their style of football throughout the season so far but against the Lilywhites, they come up against the pass masters.

The challenge ahead of them is even more daunting when you consider Bohs have not won three league games in a row since October 2015.

Long will watch the game from the stands after receiving a one-game game having been sent from the dugout against Waterford on three weeks ago.

Undeterred, he said: “You have to be at your best against Dundalk but that’s the same for every team that plays them as they’re such a strong side.

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“They play a fluent style of football as they always have under Stephen Kenny.

“With respect to Sligo Rovers and Bray Wanderers, Dundalk are on another level to most teams in the league.

“But those two wins allow us to have a go at them.

“On our day, if everyone gives a fully focused performance, we can put it up to anyone in this league.

“The pitch is looking well and it should be a great evening for football.

“We hope we have a big crowd here to support us and we want to go out and do ourselves justice in front of our home supporters.”

Bohs’ victories against Sligo and Bray respectively have left them in a healthier position in the league table.

They are seventh and are now 11 points clear of the relegation zone and six clear of the play-off position.

Long said: “In the first half against Bray, we were well on top and could have scored more to make it more comfortable for ourselves.

“We created a lot of chances. Bray got back into it with the penalty and put us under pressure for 20 minutes or so.

“But we defended well and when we brought Dan Byrne and Eoghan Stokes on, the game settled down for us.

“Eoghan got the third to kill the game off and the 3-1 scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.

“It was very important that we picked up wins against teams below and around us in the table to put a bit of distance between us.”

While Bohs’ style of play has been praised, a cutting edge had eluded them in previous, so Long is delighted to see his frontmen find form.

He added: “Dinny scored twice against Pat’s three weeks ago although one of them was mistakenly attributed to Kevin Devaney at the time.

“Now he’s got another one against Bray. Strikers can be confidence players so three goals to his name in recent weeks will do Dinny no end of good.

“The same goes for Stokesy. He’s an excellent talent but sometimes he needs to trust his instinct a bit more and pull the trigger.

“He believed in himself and did just that against Bray. Nothing beats putting the ball in the net and that goal will give him a big lift too.”

TEAM NEWS

Paddy Kavanagh (illness) returns to the squad, but Keith Ward (foot) and skipper Derek Pender (calf) are considered doubts.

Colin McCabe (shoulder), Karl Moore (ankle), Darragh Leahy (knee), Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) and Ryan Swan (cruciate) remain out.

“WE NEED TO BUILD ON SLIGO VICTORY”

​BRAY WANDERERS v BOHEMIANS
Friday May 11 2018, Carlisle Grounds, 7.45pm

Keith Long has challenged Bohemians to build on last week’s win away to Sligo Rovers and make it back-to-back league victories for the first time this season.

They travel to face bottom side Bray Wanderers side who have already taken scalps at the Carlisle Grounds against Derry City and Shamrock Rovers in the past month.

It took an injury-time winner from Dinny Corcoran for Bohs to claim all three points the last time the sides met, so manager Long is taking nothing for granted.

He said: “Bray’s performances have improved in recent weeks and their results are starting to pick up at home.

“Beating Derry City last week was a massive result for them. They’ve gathered momentum at the Carlisle Grounds so they are not to be underestimated.

“But we’re coming into this game positive. We kept a clean sheet for only the second time this year with the win in Sligo.”

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That 2-0 victory in the Showgrounds saw Bohs take the lead somewhat against the run of play – a welcome reverse of what had become a habit of conceding first this season.

Long said: “It was a game where in the first half we didn’t hit the heights we have done in some games this season but we got the three points, which is the most important thing.

“We defended well despite being under pressure in the first half. Keeping them scoreless gave us the platform to push on and win the game in the second half and we could have scored more in the end.

“The challenge for us it to build on that. We haven’t put back-to-back league wins together and that has to change for us to climb up the table.

“We know we are capable of doing that. Our performances have been good enough for us to do so but we need everyone on top of their game tomorrow.”

Bohs crashed out of the quarter-finals of the EA Sports Cup away to holders Dundalk on Tuesday.

The relief is after that, save for next month’s Leinster Senior Cup tie away to the Lilywhites (Tuesday June 5), Bohs currently now have no further scheduled midweek fixtures for the remainder of the season.

Remarkably, Tuesday night’s 3-0 defeat was the Gypsies’ eighth midweek game this year in all competitions.

Long had flagged beforehand that his options were limited as injuries and fatigue as a result of the heavy schedule continued to take their toll.

Despite the one-sided scoreline, Long was pleased with some of the individual performances of budding youngsters thrown in at the deep end.

He added: “The game was a bit of a headache. Our hands were tied as to what kind of team we could put out whereas we knew Dundalk would be strong no matter what team lined out.

“As well as first-team players missing or who needed to be rested, some of the U19 players we’d have liked to give a run-out to – the likes of Steven Nolan, Ryan Graydon and Cian McMullen – were also unavailable.

“But it was a good test for our young players who were available and it will stand to them.

“Paddy Kirk was excellent at left-back and with Darragh Leahy injured, his performance has given me some food for thought.

“We had Andy Lyons, who is only 17, in at right-back coming up against Dylan Connolly. He fared well and the game was a great education for him.

“Dylan Thornton when he came on did very well in midfield.

“We don’t have many defensive midfielders at the club so he’s a player again who we’ll be looking at in a different light now after how well he played against strong opposition.”

TEAM NEWS

Scan results on the knee injury sustained by Darragh Leahy against Sligo Rovers last Saturday confirmed damage to his LCL, which is not as bad as first feared but will rule him out for six to eight weeks.

Dinny Corcoran (hip) and Rob Cornwall (back) return to the squad but Dan Casey (calf) is a doubt.

Derek Pender (calf) suffered a set-back when he aggravated his injury in the warm-up against Waterford 10 days ago. He is nearing a return but tomorrow’s game will come too soon for him.

Colin McCabe (shoulder), Seán Bohan (international duty with Ireland U17s), Karl Moore (ankle), Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) and Ryan Swan (cruciate) remain out.

“We want young players to look at Danny and think ‘I can do that’.”

DUNDALK v BOHEMIANS
EA Sports Cup quarter-final
Tuesday May 8 2018, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Injuries have limited Keith Long’s options for tonight’s EA Sports quarter-final against Dundalk at Oriel Park.

But the manager has urged those who are given their break in the Bohemians first team to seize the opportunity.

The EA Sports Cup has been a tried and tested platform for Long to introduce budding stars to first-team football.

Now in his fourth season with the club, Long and his backroom teams have proven themselves willing to nurture players with potential.

Most notably last season, midfielder Fuad Sule had to bide his time before being given a chance to shine in a game against Cabinteely in the competition.

His man-of-the-match performance in a 1-0 victory was enough to convince Long he was ready for the Premier Division.

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He went from strength to strength, becoming the first Bohemians player to win a SSE Airtricity Player of the Month Award in seven years before earning a closed season transfer to Barnet.

This year, Danny Grant has been the standout beneficiary of being tested in the EA Sports Cup.

He – alongside Ryan Graydon and Dylan Thornton – was one of three members of the Graham Lawlor’s U19 team who made their first-team debuts in the 5-1 win against Cabinteely in the first round.

In total, eight of the 14 players used in that game came through Bohs’ youth ranks. In the following round against UCD when Bohs came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 and win on penalties, it was seven from 14.

Grant, who joined the U19s from Leinster Senior League Bangor Celtic last summer, scored a long-range stunner in that win against Cabinteely in a performance that propelled him into the reckoning for league action.

The Leaving Cert student, 18, made his league debut off the bench against tonight’s opposition at the end of March and has come to prominence in crucial wins in the last month.

First, he set up the 99th-minute winner for Darragh Leahy in the 2-1 over Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght and on Saturday, he scored his first two league goals as the Gypsies claimed a crucial 2-0 victory away to Sligo Rovers.

The step-up from the U19s to the first team is a big one but Long has been delighted with Grant’s progress, which he hopes can provide inspiration for others.

He said: “Danny was rewarded for his performances for both the U19s and for the first team in the EA Sports Cup.

“He’s delivered for us now in big games and his two goals on Saturday were excellent finishes.

“We want young players to aspire to be in our first team and look at that and think ‘I can do that’.”

While the performances of young and fringe players in previous round has been lauded, it must be noted that they did come against First Division opposition in the form of Cabinteely and UCD.

Tonight is a whole lot different as they’re getting towards the business end of the competition and facing the holders.

Against Stephen Kenny, Bohs are up against a manager who has won this competition a record six times – four times with Derry City and twice with his current club.

There is a place in the semi-finals at stake so this is a game Long wants to win but with injuries mounting – Darragh Leahy the latest prominent addition to the absentee list – his options are limited and the odds stacked against his side.

He said: “Dundalk’s strength in depth is such that they will have a strong side regardless of what XI they put out.

“My hand is forced tonight because of how many players we have ruled out.

“Our squad is really stretched. We have no option but to mix it up like we have done in previous years and in previous rounds.

“But that will allow players come in and stake their claim. But coming up against players of that quality can be a valuable experience for the younger players who do feature.”

Against Sligo, Long was relieved to see his side put a halt to what had become a frustrating habit of conceding first, playing lovely football but often having no points to show for it.

They have played better in games this season and ended up with nothing on the board.

But on Saturday, they were resolute in defence when under pressure, claimed what was only their second clean sheet of the season, took the lead somewhat against the run of play before seeing the game out with a confident performance that yielded a deserved second goal.

Long added: “The first half, Sligo made it very difficult for us. They didn’t allow us to play.

“They were very direct in their approach and we were loaded with set play after set play in the box.

“But we improved after the break and once we got the goal, we looked comfortable and could have scored more so it was a pleasing result and performance.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs suffered a blow when left-back Leahy was carried off on a stretcher in visible discomfort during Saturday’s 2-0 win against Sligo Rovers.

The club is awaiting scan results on his knee but it is feared that the 20-year-old could be ruled out for eight to 12 weeks.

16-year-old goalkeeper Jamie Cleary is included in the squad once more with Colin McCabe (shoulder), who had started both previous rounds of this competition, and Seán Bohan (international duty with Ireland U17s) unavailable.

Rob Cornwall (back), Derek Pender (calf) and Karl Moore (knee) remain out alongside long-term absentees Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal).

Dinny Corcoran (hip) and Dan Casey (calf) have minor niggles and will not be risked ahead of Friday’s league game against Bray Wanderers.

“We’re not going to feel sorry for ourselves”

SLIGO ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
Saturday May 5 2018
The Showgrounds, 7.45pm

Keith Long insists no Bohemians player will be found feeling sorry for themselves as they bid to climb the table.

Players looked exasperated leaving the Dalymount Park pitch on Monday night as they succumbed to a smash-and-grab 1-0 defeat against high-flying Waterford.

Similarly, supporters were left scratching their heads as to how the team failed to get anything out of game they thoroughly dominated.

In previous weeks, Bohs have been left frustrated by costly mistakes at the back and a lack of cutting edge up front leaving them empty-handed.

But Monday night was that and more.

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With Dylan Watts, who was today nominated for the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association April Player of the Month Award, pulling the strings in midfield, the Gypsies created enough chances to win any game.

But between an inability to find that killer touch in front of goal and some contentious refereeing decisions, the Gypsies failed to overturn that one-goal deficit.

Long was sent to the stands for contesting one of those calls but is not suspended for tomorrow’s game.

He said: “The energy and effort of the players on Monday, you couldn’t have asked for much more from them. They were outstanding.

“We conceded a bad goal, which has happened too often for us this season.

“But they ran themselves into the ground trying to get a goal back and it’s hard to fault the performance.”

Against Sligo Rovers, Bohs face a team one place and two points ahead of them in eighth position.

The sides cancelled each other out when they met earlier in the season in Dalymount Park in a match that finished 2-2.

He said: “The last time we played, there wasn’t a lot between us but we felt we should have won the game.

“Sligo on a Saturday is a difficult place to go but we are going there to get a result: to win.

“We are not going to feel sorry for ourselves. We believe in ourselves and we will stay strong as a group.

“Let’s go get a result.”

TEAM NEWS

Rob Cornwall (back), Derek Pender (calf) and Karl Moore (knee) are out alongside long-term absentees Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal).

Dan Byrne (groin) a doubt.

Paddy Kavanagh returns from suspension.

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