“A packed Jodi Stand can spur on our new players”

BOHEMIANS v FINN HARPS
Friday February 15th 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians welcome newly-promoted Finn Harps to Dalymount tomorrow with skipper Derek Pender telling his new team-mates to embrace the season’s opening night but warning them to be prepared for a tough battle.

Harps have not beaten the Gypsies at Dalymount Park in 20 years but every point won against Ollie Horgan’s teams is a hard-earned one.

That is a message the experienced Pender – 35 and begining his eighth season at Dalymount Park – is keen to impress upon his inexperienced team-mates.

There is a feeling that there is potential in this Bohs dressing room. Players of experience – such as Shane Supple and Ian Morris – have left and have been replaced by youth.

Pender is the oldest player in the squad by five years with Dinny Corcoran, 30 yesterday, the only other player not in his teens or 20s.

New arrivals such as James Talbot in goals, James Finnerty in defence and Daniel Mandroiu, Luke Wade-Slater and Conor Levingston in midfield, will be hoping to copy the example set by Darragh Leahy, thrown in at the deep end for his debut aged 19 on opening night last season against Shamrock Rovers, and rising to the challenge of first-team football.

Pender said: “We’ve done well against Harps at home when they were in the division before before but we all know that they have got results against us in the past too – most notably in the cup in Ballybofey two years ago – so we expect a really tough opening game.

“People might think they’re a team we should be beating but football doesn’t always work that way. We have a lot of new and young players and it will take time for them to adapt to the physical side of the game in our league.

“We don’t know how long it will take them to adapt. It took us a while to find our rhythm last year but we are determined to get off to a good start this year and hopefully we can click a bit earlier this season.

“It’s a big step for our new players. They’ll soon find that our league is a tough one. You don’t get a minute – it’s fast and furious. They will need to learn quickly and that’s why we try to make our training as competitive as when you’re playing so it’s not such a shock to the system.”

Pender and Co are all the more determined to hit the ground running having had hopes of a positive season curtain-raiser – an IRN-BRU Cup quarter-final against East Fife – dashed due to a frozen pitch at Dalymount a fortnight ago.

Bohs fans turned up in good numbers that Saturday afternoon but left disappointed not to see Keith Long’s new-look side.

Pender said: “There was a good crowd here for the East Fife game and we were disappointed it had to be called off, as I know our fans were too.

“But hopefully that whetted the appetite a bit and we’ll have a big crowd for the first game. A big crowd will be something new for our new players and playing in front of a packed Jodi Stand with our fans behind them will be an experience for them that will really lift them and hopefully spur them on.

“Our fans have really driven us on in recent years and they can really drive our new players on too. They’ve always been behind us, particularly in the last few years.

“Every time I step on to the pitch they give me a lift. I’ve been a player in this league for a good number of years and nothing lifts you like Bohs supporters when they’re behind you.

“Even in the cup semi-final defeat to Cork City last season when we were all so devastated, they stayed behind to lift us. I’ve never experienced anything like what we had there.

“That bond is special and that’s something we want to build on. We always want to give something back to the fans for their support. People might say that’s a cliche but for me it’s not – I really mean it.”

TEAM NEWS

Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) all miss out.

“We hope the personalities and ability of our players can shine through”

IRN-BRU SCOTTISH CHALLENGE CUP QUARTER-FINAL
Bohemians v East Fife
Saturday February 2nd, Dalymount Park, 3pm

Keith Long believes his budding Bohemians will need the patient and encouraging support of the Dalymount Roar behind them to get over the line against East Fife today.

The Bohs manager also reckons people need a bit of a reality check if they think the Gypsies are going into today’s IRN BRU quarter-final as favourites to progress.

Entering into his fifth season at the helm, Long is now the longest-serving Bohemians manager in two decades and is on course to eclipse Turlough O’Connor’s longevity and become the club’s longest-serving manager since Billy Young, who managed the club with distinction for 16 years until 1989.

An away semi-final against Ross County on February 15 awaits the winners and while bullish of his new-look side’s ability, Long is wary that the timing of the fixture in respect of both teams’ seasons is weighted in the visitors’ favour.

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He said: “It’s going to be a tough game but we’re really looking forward to it. Even though we’re starting our season a bit earlier than other teams, it’s still been a long off-season so we hope there’ll be a big crowd behind us.

“It’s a quarter-final and a huge opportunity for us to progress and that’s what we want to do. We want to get to a final. It would huge for the club and the supporters.

“To do that, we need to play to our utmost ability and have our fans be patient and right behind us if the tie is in the balance.

“It’s going to be a measure of where we’re at as a team. The timing of this game presents mitigating factors against us.

“That’s not looking for excuses but you have to be realistic when you have so many new players. It can take time to gel and find our feet, so we hope the personalities and ability of our players can shine through.

“We know we are not the finished article but we have some excellent new young players in the team but there is still work to be done and we will continue to evolve.

“We’ve rebuilt our squad, this is our first competitive fixture. In many ways we are coming into this game undercooked in comparison to the opposition.

“They’re third in their league, they’re flying high and they’ll be coming over confident. They’re bang in-season and in a good run of form.

“In my mind they are coming over as favourites. The bookies mightn’t agree but reality suggests otherwise. It’s very much a new team coming up against a settled, confident one.

“That’s not being trying to play mind games or knocking ourselves at all. We have real quality and potential. It’s just a reflection of where both teams are in their respective seasons at the moment.”

Prior to beating Sutton United on penalties after a 0-0 draw at Dalymount in the last round, Bohs have played and beaten Scottish opposition in this tournament already.

In September, a much-changed Bohs team beat Peterhead with Kevin Devaney’s effort the only goal of the game.

That scoreline did not quite reflect Bohs’ superiority on the day but Long doesn’t believe there are many comparisons to be made between the opposition that day and what they face at Dalymount this afternoon.

East Fife are third in Scottish League 1 with Peterhead occupying the same position in their league – a division lower.

Long said: “East Fife are third and the teams ahead of them are full-time and with good budgets in Raith and Arbroath.

“We’ve played Scottish opposition already in this tournament but we only won 1-0, albeit in a game we dominated, against a Peterhead side who are a division lower

“There is going to be a quantum difference in the standard of East Fife in comparison.”

Bohs come into this game with mixed results performances in their three pre-season games played to date.

They kicked off their pre-season campaign with a 2-2 draw with Shelbourne at Abbotstown, followed it up with a 0-0 draw with the Defence Forces in Crumlin and appeared to find their groove with a 4-0 win against Longford Town at the AUL on Tuesday night.

Long said: “Pre-season can be misleading. It’s wrong to get carried away with results whether they’re good or bad as pre-season games are about a lot of things – getting minutes spread out across the players to try bring them up to speed, trying out different combinations and structures across the team and all that.

“We’ve shown quality in patches – most notably in the first half against Shelbourne and in the second half against Longford – but it would be wrong to read too much into those at this stage.”

TEAM NEWS

Kevin Devaney (groin) and Darragh Leahy (hip) are likely to sit this one out. Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) is facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines, while Scott Allardice is cup-tied having played for Dundee United’s U20s earlier in the competition.

“We have to give it go and let’s see where that takes us”

Preview: Shamrock Rovers U19s v Bohemians U19s
SSE Airtricity U19 League Final
Tuesday October 30, Tallaght Stadium, 7.30pm
(General admission €5, U14s go free)

The Bohemians U19s are looking to cap off another remarkable season by clinching a second league title in a row when they travel to Tallaght Stadium to face Shamrock Rovers.

SSE Airtricity U19 League champions last term, Bohs brought that form into this season once again – lifting the Enda McGuill Cup with a hard-fought win away to St Patrick’s Athletic in September.

The Bohemians faithful acknowledged the hard work being done at underage level by really getting behind Craig Sexton and his side for their Uefa Youth League return leg fixture at Dalymount Park last Wednesday.

A crowd of 1563 came to Dalyer as Bohs went down fighting against a fancied FC Midtjylland side, losing 2-1 to the Danes on the night and going out 4-2 on aggregate.

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Sexton’s side have dusted themselves down after that disappointment and are refreshed and ready to go toe to toe with Aidan Price’s Hoops in the league decider.

He said: “It’ll be an interesting game, it’ll be a tight one I think. But we have to give it go and let’s see where that takes us.

“I think we will get a crowd there with it being a Dublin derby, it’ll appeal to a wider audience.

“I think it’s the first time Bohs and Rovers have played in a big final since I played in the U20s final in 2010.

“We were beaten on penos that night, so hopefully the result will go the other way this time around!”

While trophies and the honour of representing the country in Uefa competition have been obvious highlights, Sexton sees the progression of players to Keith Long’s first team as the real sign of success.

The pathway for players is clear, from the joint Bohs-SKB U15 and U17 teams right through to the U19s and on to the first team. 

Ali Reghba, Andy Lyons, Cristian Magerusan, Danny Grant, Jamie Hamilton, Promise Omochere and Ryan Graydon have all featured for the first team this season as well as starring for Sexton’s U19s, while Paddy Kirk, now 20, has this season established himself as a first-team squad regular having shone for the U19s in recent seasons.

Sexton said: “Either way the game goes, this group have been fantastic. What they’ve achieved this season and last has been unbelievable.

“For the first team, the amount of players we’ve been able to bring through has been extremely pleasing.

“That’s where our success lies and I’m extremely proud of all the boys.”

Their route to the final has proved difficult, however, having had to dig deep in the knockout stages of the league against both Waterford and UCD.

In the quarter-final against Waterford, Bohs trailed 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 before eventually coming out on top 4-3 after extra time. In the semi-final, Bohs relinquished a 2-0 lead to need penalties to defeat UCD.

Sexton added: “We played Waterford, we scored with five or ten to go having been behind the whole game.

“Against UCD we were 2-0 up, cruising in the game, concede one and concede another just on the stroke of full-time.

“For the players to press the restart button and go again for another 30 minutes and win the shootout after that set-back was excellent.

“It shows you the type of group we have that they were able to dig deep and get those results.”

“We always bring a big crowd out to Bray and we want to get a result”

Preview: Bray Wanderers v Bohemians
SSE Airtricity League,
Friday October 19 2018, Carlisle Grounds, 7.45pm

Keith Long says Bohemians are refreshed and determined to finish the season as strongly as possible.

The Gypsies travel to face relegated Bray Wanderers tomorrow with just three games to remaining after that against Sligo Rovers on Monday, champions Dundalk and an IRN-BRU Cup quarter-final.

They put the gut-wrenching FAI Cup semi-final replay defeat against Cork City 10 days ago to one side when Sutton United were the visitors to Dalymount in the IRB-BRU Cup last 16 on Saturday.

Bohs will feel they should have settled the tie in normal time but in the end needed a remarkable penalty shootout turnaround to seal their passage through to the last eight where they will host East Fife.

No date has yet been 100% confirmed for that tie, but Bohs are hopeful that the tie will be brought forward from the original scheduled date of Saturday November 17 to be closer to the end of their SSE Airtricity League season, which finishes next Friday.

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Long said: “We looked on Saturday’s game as an opportunity to shake the disappointment of going out of the FAI Cup. We wanted a win to put that out of our minds as best we could.

“It was good to have a game against different opposition, against a team with a different style of play.

“We played very well in patches but we looked tired towards the end so we’re glad it went straight to penalties and there was no extra-time.

“We’re delighted to progress in the tournament, it’s something very different for the club but the players and supporters have bought into it.

“We’re hoping we can bring forward the quarter-final as the players don’t want to extend our season too much.

“But they were determined to get through. That was the same for both rounds, no matter what team we put out, they wanted to progress.”

Bohs found themselves 3-1 down in the shootout after Oscar Brennan and Eoghan Stokes saw their efforts saved.

But up stepped goalkeeper Shane Supple to save one, score one and save another to turn the shootout on its head.

Long said: “Supps was actually a bit disappointed he wasn’t further up the list to take penalties!

“That’s the kind of character he is. Supps has been outstanding since day one he came to the club.

“But to win a shootout like that was unique – it might be a quiz question in years to come!”

Tomorrow the Gypsies face a relegated Bray side with little more than pride to play for.

But Long, who has fond memories of his own time with the Seagulls as a player and coach, is never one to take any team for granted.

He added: “We don’t take any opposition lightly. Bray may be down but they are doing a lot of good work behind the scenes now and are in a better place as a club now.

“We have to focus on ourselves. We always bring a big crowd out to Bray and we want to get a result.

“We want to finish the season strongly and as high up the table as possible.

“We have to make sure we deliver a good performance and impose ourselves on the game.

“When we do that, we’re capable of beating any team in the league but the performance has to be right.”

TEAM NEWS

Darragh Leahy is out with a recurrence of a thigh injury. Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Ryan Masterson (quad) remain on the sidelines.

“It really meant a lot to everyone, you just don’t see that other clubs”

Preview: Bohemians v Sutton Utd
Irn-Bru Challenge Cup Rd 3
Saturday October 13, Dalymount Park, 3pm

*Please note that as tomorrow is a split gate, membership, Junior Gypsies and season tickets do not apply. Members can, however, pay the reduced rate of €10 on the members stile on production of membership card.

Keith Long admits his team are hurting – but also believes they are determined to put smiles back on the faces of Bohemians supporters.

The Gypsies ran out of steam in their Irish Daily Mail Cup semi-final replay on Monday night.

Bohs were out-muscled in the first half and trailed 2-0 at the break. Ian Morris’ wonder strike gave them a way back into the tie but an equaliser proved elusive.

Having gone so close to winning the first game – they led 1-0 until Cork were awarded a contentious penalty three minutes from time – it is natural for Long’s side to still be thinking ‘what if?’

Long said: “Monday was a long, hard night. It’s obviously difficult to pick lads up after that.

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“Last night was the first night we had them back training.

“We felt they needed a break after Monday as everyone was extremely disappointed. But we look bright in training.

“We had a look last night at where we went wrong and what we did well. Obviously we could have played a lot better in the first half.”

Monday was the second defeat in three days but the Friday 3-1 loss to Waterford saw a Bohs team line out with nine changes to the side that took to the field in the first cup game against Cork City – the only two survivors were suspended for the rematch.

Prior to that, Long’s side were on a remarkable 10-match unbeaten run of nine consecutive wins and a draw.

He said: “It was unfortunate and disappointing after the run we’ve been on that we gave what was probably the worst 45 minutes we’ve had in months.

“A cup final would have been a huge reward for the players, everyone involved behind the scenes at the club and for our supporters who’ve been right behind us.”

Long expressed his wish to put on record his gratitude for the 700-strong travelling support who stayed back after the game to applaud his

He said: “Every one of the players and staff remarked on the effort of our supporters to pick us up on Monday.

“It’s been the same for months. But what we saw from our supporters on Monday in the way they stayed behind and tried to give us a lift after the game was special.

“It really meant a lot to everyone, you just don’t see that other clubs.”

While Bohs are still licking their wounds, Long has one eye on next season and believes there is huge potential for his team to continue to build on the foundations laid in recent years.

He said: “If we can keep this group together, we can progress together as a group. We’ve some very talented young players coming through.

“I think people realise that and the younger players coming through are getting great encouragement.”

But before he can look too far ahead, there is the somewhat unknown quantity of Sutton United to contend with.

Long said: “Tomorrow is unfamiliar opposition in an unfamiliar competition but we want to progress.

“It will be hard to pick everyone up but we want to get back winning and this is a chance for us to get to a quarter-final.

“We don’t know a lot about them other than the video footage we’ve seen of them. But they play at a good standard.

“The Conference in England have the likes of Adam Rooney and Rory Gaffney playing there so it’s a tough league with a high calibre of player and a very competitive standard.

“We’re looking forward to it. We want to win to help put a smile back on the faces of our players and supporters.”

TEAM NEWS

Dan Kelly and Dan Casey return from suspension but the latter is a slight doubt with a calf strain.

Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Ryan Masterson (quad) remain out.

BARS OPEN 1PM

Please note the bars open at 1pm tomorrow ahead of the game until late.

We will have Bobby Harper performing live in the Phoenix Bar and we will be screening Ireland v Denmark at 7.45pm.

All Sutton fans are invited to make use of our bars also.

Website by Simon Alcock