“We have to perform to the maximum”

​FINN HARPS v BOHEMIANS
Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup 1st Rd
Friday August 11, Finn Park, 8pm

Keith Long has warned Bohemians that they will need to deliver a maximum performance to progress in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup.

Ballybofey hasn’t always been a happy hunting ground for Bohs but with replays done away with this season until the quarter-final stage, Long feels there is a clarity to their objective tonight.

Long said: “It’s a one-off tie. No replay is unusual and something we haven’t experienced in the FAI Cup.

“But that brings clarity to the situation as the result will be determined on the night. It’s going to be a real battle and we will be up for it.

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“It’s one of the toughest draws, one of the toughest opponents.There will be a big crowd behind them.

“We’re going there as underdogs. Harps will be favourites.”

Bohs have faced Finn Harps twice already this season with the Gypsies claiming the spoils at Dalymount Park in April.

But they were left frustrated by their performance when the sides met in Ballybofey last month when a bolshy Harps display saw them come out 2-1 winners.

Bohs have picked themselves up since with seven points from their last three games but nobody is getting carried away.

Long said: “We know what to expect to a certain extent having played against Harps quite recently but this is a cup game and previous results and performances will have no bearing.

“They’re a very good team with some excellent players and we have to be very wary of the threats that they possess and the problems they can cause you.

“We’ll go there with an attacking mindset and will channel all our energies into trying to win the game.

“There’s confidence in the team just now but we have to perform to the maximum.

“If we play like we did the last time in Ballybofey, we will come away with nothing.

“If we play like we have over the course of our last three games, we will give ourselves a chance.”

Bohs’ confidence levels received a further lift today when Fuad Sule was named the SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association of Ireland Player of the Month for July.

The 20-year-old, who alongside Warren O’Hora and Oscar Brennan last week signed a new contract to remain at the club until the end of next season, hasn’t looked back since breaking into the first team in April.

But his performances in the memorable victories against Shamrock Rovers and Cork City last month stood out in particular.

Long added: “We are really pleased for Fuad. It’s a personal accolade that he deserves for the impact he’s made since coming into the team but it’s also recognition for the efforts of his team-mates too.”

TEAM NEWS

Dan Casey (ankle), Greg Murray (hand) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain out.

But Warren O’Hora (concussion) will return to the squad.

“THE CHALLENGE IS TO MAINTAIN CONSISTENCY”

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS
Friday August 4 2017, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long is challenging his buoyant Bohemians side to maintain performance levels as they look to cement their place in the top half of the table.

Against all odds, the Gypsies secured two memorable victories away from home last Friday and Monday.

First, Long’s side came away from Tallaght Stadium with a 2-1 win in the Dublin derby – only the club’s second away victory over Shamrock Rovers since they moved to the stadium in 2009.

Then, despite five changes to his starting XI, Bohs left Turner’s Cross with a 1-0 win after inflicting a first league defeat of the season on runaway champions elect Cork City.

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Coming on the back of three defeats, those results have seen the Gypsies move up to sixth in the table. Victory against Bray would see them overtake Harry Kenny’s side in fifth.

But manager Long is urging caution. Some harsh lessons this season have taught Bohs not to look too far ahead in what is still an extremely congested league table.

He said: “To get six points from those two games was massive for us. The players were excellent but our challenge all season has been trying to maintain consistency.

“Those wins were much-needed too after three defeats beforehand but it’s important that we keep our feet on the ground.

“We have to strive to maintain those performance levels. Those wins are in the past and we have a fresh challenge now.”

Long believes that mantra is now ingrained in his players now too.

He said: “We’ve put ourselves in a good position to finish the season strongly and that is a massive incentive for everyone.

“As well as the performances and the results, one of the most pleasing things was the attitude of the players afterwards.

“They weren’t patting themselves on the back – they were already fully focused on Friday’s game.”

The off-field upheaval at Bray Wanderers is well documented but Long believes they are ready to draw a line under that now the distraction of the transfer window has passed.

Long added: “Bray have been in the top four or five all season. They’re there for a reason.

“They are an excellent side. They’ve had a difficult month off the field but now the transfer window is closed, they will be able to refocus on the rest of the season.

“But we just have to focus on our own performance first and make sure, collectively our performance is as good as it can be.”

TEAM NEWS

Defenders Dan Casey (ankle) and Warren O’Hora, who was carried off on a stretcher on Monday suffering from concussion, are both ruled out.

Greg Murray (hand) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain on the sidelines.

But skipper Derek Pender (hamstring) and Paddy Kavanagh (rib), who both sat out Monday’s game, are available once more for selection.

“WE NEED TO BOUNCE BACK TOGETHER”

Manager Keith Long is demanding an improved performance as Bohemians aim to climb up the table once more.

Long’s side welcome Derry City to Dalymount Park looking to get back to winning ways after successive defeats to Dundalk and Finn Harps.

Prior to that, Bohs were in good form having picked up 10 points from their previous four games.

That run, coupled with the manner of their unlucky 1-0 defeat against Dundalk two weeks ago, described by Long as Bohs’ “best 90-minute performance of the season,” gave them every reason to go up to Ballybofey last week confident of getting a result.

A win would have put Bohs eight points ahead of Harps and put some distance between them and the relegation zone.

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Instead, despite taking the lead through Dinny Corcoran, who once again dovetailed superbly with playmaker Keith Ward for the goal, Bohs fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat and saw their lead over Harps cut to just two points.

Long said: “We performed badly up in Finn Park. We got what we deserved out of the game – nothing.

“It was a poor display overall and we cannot afford to perform at that level and expect to get anything.

“We came back from the break quite strongly and, although we lost against Dundalk last time out at Dalymount, our level of performance that night was impressive.

“That’s the frustrating part. Having done well previously to then go to Ballybofey and fail to impose ourselves on the game was difficult for us all to take.”

Long, however, will not allow his side to lick their wounds. They remain in seventh place and just a point off sixth and five points off tomorrow’s opposition Derry City in fifth.

But he knows his side will have to be at their very best to beat a Candystripes side who have enjoyed the bragging rights over the Gypsies in all six meetings between the teams in all competitions since Kenny Shiels took charge at the start of last season.

Long added: “We have to play with more quality, more aggression and more intensity to get anything from the game.

“We need to bounce back together from the disappointment of last week and concentrate on getting better. The atmosphere around the team and the club is good and we want that to continue.

“Nothing is as important as being loved and valued – the lads love playing for this club and we need to see that passion in every performance until the end of the season.

“If we can do that, we know that the fans in the Jodi will get behind us as they have done all year.”

TEAM NEWS

Skipper Derek Pender (hamstring) remains out meaning new signing Dan Casey could keep his place at right-back having made his debut in Ballybofey last week.

Warren O’Hora (illness) returns to the squad and could take the place of Rob Cornwall, who is suspended.

“We can’t let our performance levels drop”

FINN HARPS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday July 14th, Finn Park, 8pm

After delivering what Keith Long believes was their best 90-minute performance of the season, Bohemians are determined standards will not drop against Finn Harps tomorrow.

Eighth-placed Harps host seventh-placed Bohs at Finn Park with just five points separating the sides.

Having amassed 10 points from their previous four games, a confident Bohs came unstuck against champions Dundalk eight days ago.

An 89th-minute suckerpunch was all that separated the sides as the Lilywhites made it five wins in a row.

But Bohs earned much praise for their performance and will have been disappointed not to have earned at least a point for their efforts.

Manager Long said: “We had shown in patches in other games what we are capable of but I think that’s the best we’ve played over 90 minutes all season.

“We have to keep searching for that level of performance. The challenge for us now is to replicate that.”

Harps, another team battling for survival, present a different challenge.

Long added: “Finn Harps are obviously in and around us at the moment, so it’s an important game for both teams.

“We cannot afford to let our performance levels drop.

“Harps are a very resilient and determined team. They pick up results and are very effective, so we have to be ready for them.

“Our drive and determination is going to have to match theirs.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs welcome back Dan Byrne and Oscar Brennan from suspension.

Georgie Poynton, who sat out the Dundalk game due to the terms of his loan arrangement, also returns.

New recruits Ciaran O’Connor (on loan from Dundalk) and Keith Dalton (signed from Dundalk) will go straight into the matchday squad after playing in Saturday’s friendly against FC United of Manchester.

It is hoped that former Sunderland defender Dan Casey, who signed on Tuesday, will also feature in the squad should international clearance come through in time. He also featured against FC United as a trialist.

Bohs will, however, be without skipper Derek Pender (hamstring) and fellow defender Warren O’Hora (illness).

Meanwhile, Jamie Doyle and Kaleem Simon have left the club by mutual consent, while fellow winger Dean Casey has joined Cabinteely until the end of the season to gain first-team experience.

“WE’LL HAVE A GO”

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
Wednesday July 5th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to relish the challenge of taking on the standard-setters of Irish football tonight.

Three-in-a-row champions Dundalk come to Dalymount after winning their last four games in a row, scoring 15 goals and conceding none in the process.

But Long is bullish. His side are unbeaten in four too with 10 points from a possible 12.

He said: “This is an opportunity to go head-to-head with the reigning champions. They’re a team who have set the standard for domestic football in recent years.

“Dundalk will feel they are hitting top form as they enter into their European campaig and we will have to be at our very best to get something from the game.

“It is a great opportunity for our boys to test themselves against a top side and it’s a challenge that I believe we are ready for as we come into the game with a good run of recent results.”

Bohs will, however, be without Dan Byrne and Oscar Brennan through suspension.

Ciaran O’Connor, who joined Bohs yesterday until the end of the season, and Georgie Poynton are also unavailable under the terms of their loan agreements from Dundalk.

But Rob Cornwall (hip) returns from injury and could line up at the back alongside promising defender Warren O’Hora, who made his league debut off the bench against St Patrick’s Athletic last month and made his first league start in the victory against Sligo Rovers last time out.

Long said: “It will be extremely difficult without Dano, Oscar and George. But Rob coming back is a big bonus. We feel there is healthy competition for places across the squad.

“The players have been really good showing great desire and hunger on the training ground, working extremely hard to improve individually and collectively.

“I believe we are now seeing the benefits of that in our performances.

“We have done okay so far this season against teams the are in and around us in the table, so the challenge for us tonight is to see how far we have come as a group and to get up against Dundalk, test our opponents, test ourselves, test our skill levels and to have a go.”

The arrival of striker O’Connor further strengthens Long’s squad following the additions of Stephen Donnelly and Keith Dalton.

Long hopes to further strengthen his squad in the coming weeks, something that would not have been achievable were it not for the support of members and fans for the Player Fund.

He added: “I would once again reiterate our appreciation of your efforts as supporters to help us raise funds to bring in some new players and to try and make the squad stronger in the July transfer window.”

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