“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY
Friday February 24th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has urged his new-look Bohemians team to start as they mean to go on when the 2017 season kicks off on Friday night.

The Gypsies welcome Derry City to Dalymount Park for their season opener and manager Long is relishing the challenge.

Long, in his third season in charge at Bohs, said: “We can’t wait to get started. It’s been another long off-season so we’re all eager to get out there now.

“It’s the first day of the season, so we know we’ll have a big home support.

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“It’s potentially the club’s last year in Dalymount, so we hope people will come and support us.”

Having lost some experienced players over the closed season, Long has had his work cut out rebuilding his squad.

But he has succeeded in attracting previous fans’ favourites such as Keith Ward and Dinny Corcoran back to the club from Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic respectively, while defender Rob Cornwall joined from rivals Shamrock Rovers.

That experience has been complemented by the additions of exciting young talent such as Oscar Brennan (Cabinteely), Jamie Doyle (Shelbourne), Philip Gannon (Longford), Georgie Poynton (Dundalk – loan), Kaleem Simon (Longford) and Fuad Sule (St Patrick’s Atheletic).

Bedding in so many new players will be a challenge, but Long is placing high demands on his new recruits.

He said: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.

“We’ve a lot of new faces and it’s important they try and get off to a good start.

“We want the supporters on our side from day one so we have to give them something to shout about and put in a good performance.”

Long has been impressed by his players’ dedication during pre-season.

He said: “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do and their application has been first class.

“But pre-season is over. The serious business starts now. It’s about going out and delivering on the pitch.”

For all the positives of pre-season, there have been some negatives too. Midfielder Eoin Wearen suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear which is set to rule him out for the majority of the season.

Long said: “It was an impact injury in training and he will be out for six to nine months.

“It’s a big blow but it’s up to others in the group to see it as their opportunity to step up. One door closes, another one opens.”

In 2015, Bohs succeeded in beating Derry City three times out of three.

But it was a different story last year as it was the Candystripes’ turn to complete the clean sweep in the league, while Kenny Shiels’ side also knocked Bohs out of the FAI Cup.

Bohs were left frustrated on each occasion and felt they should have got something out of each of the four meetings.

Long added: “We lost too many games by the odd goal last year and against Derry that was no different.

“There were defeats we could have turned into draws and draws we could have turned into victories.

“We will have to rectify that this year. With the way the league is being restructured, every point is massive. Everyone will be scrapping.”

“End it on a high”

FINN HARPS v BOHEMIANS
Friday October 28, Finn Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to go out and end the season on a high note.

The surprise package last year that finished fifth, the Gypsies have struggled to find the consistency required to hit the same heights in 2016.

They currently lie in eighth position and the best they can hope for on the final day of the season is to finish seventh.

Long said: “It would have been nice to have been going into the last game with something to play for.

“This time last year we had an outside chance of qualifying for Europe, so it is disappointing.

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“It’s been a bit of a bumpy roller-coaster of a season. But it’s not just pride left to play for.

“We still have a chance of moving up a place in the table so we want to go out and win the game.”

A 2-1 defeat away to Dundalk last Sunday saw Stephen Kenny’s men clinch their third league title on the trot.

But there were plenty of positives to take out of the game and Long said: “I was pleased with the performance but not the result.

“We played well albeit without creating a lot. Our ball retention was good against a side that put you under extreme pressure.

“It was a bad time to play Dundalk too – they were really desperate to get over the line so they could rest players with the big games they have coming up.”

Observers felt Bohs were fortunate to have been awarded a first-half penalty, which was converted by Mark Quigley, that saw them get back into the game.

But Long said: “Keith Buckley was adamant at half-time that he was caught. He was right to go down.

“There have been times this season when we haven’t gone down – or shouted enough – when fouled. We aren’t always as streetwise as we should be in those situations.

“And people might argue it was fortuitous but we had a definite penalty not given in the second half – Derek Pender was creamed out of it!”

But as well as the positives, there were some negatives too as Bohs were once again undone by Dundalk set-pieces.

Long added: “We were disappointed to concede from set-pieces against them again.

“For all of the deserved praise Dundalk get here and further afield for their style of play, they score a considerable amount of goals from set-plays.

“That was something we were aware of but we still came unstuck.

“It’s an area of our own game that we haven’t done as well with this season compared to last and that’s something we will look to improve on next year.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs are once again set to be without Izzy Akinade (illness), Dylan Hayes (hip) and Jake Kelly (ankle).

“We need to match that level of commitment”

DERRY CITY v BOHEMANS
Friday October 14, 7.45pm

Keith Long has urged Bohemians to give a repeat of last week’s derby performance when they travel to The Brandywell on Friday.

Roberto Lopes’ goal at Dalymount Park capped off a confident display to claim the bragging rights against rivals Shamrock Rovers for the first time this season.

And manager Long doesn’t want those standards to drop as the Gypsies look to finish the season on a high.

Long said: “It was a great performance.

“It was a huge crowd and we had great support from our fans. They were right behind us and they gave the team that extra bit of confidence.

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“They fed off that and, to a man, the players were excellent.

“It shows what we are capable of and the level of performance we have been striving to achieve.

“We could have won by more and it would have been nice to get a few extra goals that the performance deserved.

“But to get a win was the most important thing. It would have been tough to swallow another defeat against them.”

The challenge now is to maintain that standard as Bohs face into a tough set of fixtures to finish off the season.

All three of the Gypsies’ remaining games are away from home against Derry City, Dundalk and Finn Harps respectively.

Long said: “We need to match that level of commitment up in Derry. If we don’t, it could be a long night.

“To finish the season with three away games isn’t easy. But we’re sixth now and we don’t want to drop down the table.”

Going into last week’s derby victory, Bohs had failed to register a point against the Hoops this season.

Similarly, they face a Candystripes team on Friday who have beaten them at every opportunity this season.

Long added: “We haven’t had it our way against Derry this season. Last year we had the upper hand, beating them three times.

“This year they’ve beaten us twice in the league and knocked us out of the cup.

“There hasn’t been a lot between the sides in those games. But we have to approach this game on its own merits and go out and go out and give it all we’ve got.”

TEAM NEWS

Ismahil Akinade (illness) remains out for the rest of the season, while Roberto Lopes is suspended.

There are doubts over Stephen Best and Dan Byrne (both illness).[/toggle

“We want to send the supporters home happy”

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday September 7, 7.45pm

Bohemians go into Friday’s Dublin derby against Shamrock Rovers determined to give fans something to cheer about.

The Gypsies have suffered successive defeats against Rovers in the sides’ two meetings this year and manager Keith Long wants to set the record straight.

He said: “It’s our last home game of the season and it’s against Shamrock Rovers – we want to send the supporters home happy.

“We won’t need any motivation. The players are determined to give a gutsy and honest performance.

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“We performed badly in our last game against them at Dalymount, so we want to make amends for that and it’s our last chance to do so this season.

“We’re looking forward to it. It should be a good spectacle but the most important things is we come out of it with the right result.”

Bohs come into this game on the back of a disappointing 2-1 loss against Bray Wanderers.

Harry Kenny’s Seagulls extended their remarkable run to just one defeat in 15 games. But Long was disappointed with his side’s performance.

He added: “We didn’t play well, particularly in the first half. Individually and collectively, the performance wasn’t right.

“That’s happened too many times this season and we all have to take responsibility for that and put it right.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs are once again without Ismahil Akinade through illness.

Captain Derek Pender has been suffering with a virus but is expected to be available for selection.

“We can play better”

BRAY WANDERERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Carlisle Grounds, Friday September 30 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long has urged his Bohemians side to raise their game against Bray Wanderers.

Seventh-placed Bray Wanderers host sixth-placed Bohs at the Carlisle Grounds on Friday night.

Just two points separate the sides, with both teams among the chasing pack looking to break into the top five.

In a congested mid-table, there are just five points between Sligo Rovers in fifth and Galway United in ninth.

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Bohs come into this game on the back of successive 1-0 victories against Wexford Youths and Longford Town respectively.

But Long feels there is still room for improvement as the Gypsies aim to win three league games in a row for the first time this season.

Long said: “I don’t think we’ve played particularly well in either of those games.

“Once we got the goal, we never looked like conceding. But we didn’t hit the heights we are capable of.

“We got maximum points from two games but the players are conscious that we can play better.

“We are constantly looking to improve and evolve how we play. We are definitely going to have to play better to get anything out in Bray.

“But we’re really looking forward to it. We’re going there with a bit of confidence after two wins and we are in a positive frame of mind.”

Against Harry Kenny’s Seagulls, Bohs are facing one of the league’s in-form teams.

Long added: “Since Harry came in, Bray have been on an upward curve. In Dylan Connolly, they have probably the most in-form player in the league.

“They’ve only lost once in 14 games and that was away to Cork City. That included a 0-0 draw against us, which we were very unlucky not to win.

“You’ve two teams who want to finish the season on a high. It’s not going to be easy but it’s going to be a great battle.”

TEAM NEWS

Goalkeeper Shane Supple (groin) is available again for selection. Striker Izzy Akinade (illness) remains out.

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