“There are goals in this team”

BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 9 October, 7.45pm

Bohemians continue their search for that extra something to turn draws into wins as they host St Patrick’s Athletic, their nearest neighbours in the league table.

As St Pat’s in fourth place have faltered, with a run of four losses, fifth-place Bohemians have struggled to take advantage with a run of four draws.

“We’re not a million miles off but we need to take and create more chances in games, along with being difficult to beat,” said Long.

“We have conceded some poor goals recently that we did not do earlier in the season. This is an area where we need to tighten up if we’re going to move forward next season.

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“Since the summer break we have been a little bit easier to play against and we have to find again that steel and determination we had. If we do that, and play with a bit more fluidity there are goals in this team.”

Following last week’s Leinster Senior Cup semi-final, which Bohemians lost on penalties, they face “another tough game” against St Patrick’s.

As for displacing Pat’s from fourth place, “mathematically, it’s still possible, but they have a game in hand and it’s going to be very difficult,” said Long.

“All we can do is to try and win the game on Friday night, which won’t be easy, and take care of our own performances over the remaining four games.”

Long is again missing the injured James O’Brien (ankle), Derek Prendergast (calf), Stephen Best (thigh) and Jason Caffrey (illness). But Jake Kelly returns, having been cup-tied last weekend, and Anto Murphy, who was out for the last two league games, has done full training all week, and is available.

Stephen Best has publicly committed himself to Bohemians for next season, and manager Long is working on securing other key-pieces of the 2016 squad.

For the present, however, his main focus is on getting the most out of the rest of this year’s campaign. “We want to finish the season as strongly as we possibly can,” he said.

“We’ll be going all-out to try and win the game”

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS
Leinster Senior Cup, Dalymount Park, Friday 2 October, 7.45pm

Bohemians host Shamrock Rovers on Friday in the Leinster Senior Cup four weeks after the sides drew in a league clash at Tallaght.

While the Leinster Senior Cup is not normally a high priority for Premier Division teams, it is Bohemians’ one remaining chance of silverware from the season.

Manager Keith Long is disappointed that Bohemians are not contesting an FAI Cup semi-final, but with their fifth position in the league safe, this other semi-final takes on more significance than it might otherwise have.

“Obviously the further you go in the competition, and with the draw at home against Shamrock Rovers, it becomes important. The players will certainly need no added incentive to give this their full commitment,” said Long.

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“In previous rounds we have been able to give younger players some game-time and that’s the way a lot of clubs would treat this competition. But it is a chance for silverware, and we’ll approach the game in the manner that we’ve done throughout the season and we’ll be going all-out to try and win the game.”

Bohemians have this season kept up their good record of recent years against Shamrock Rovers, with a win at home and a draw away in the league.

“But records and form count for nothing when the next game comes around. We will have to concentrate on getting our performance right on Friday. It’s a head-to-head and we’ll see who comes out on top,” said Long.

Dave Mulcahy returns from ankle injury and Keith Buckley from suspension. Jake Kelly is cup-tied and James O’Brien (ankle) is ruled out. Anto Murphy (groin) has been training but may not be fully fit. Stephen Best (quad strain) and Derek Prendergast (knock in training) are expected to be available.

Bohemians have won the Leinster Senior Cup 31 times, more than any other club. These wins stretch back to 1893-94, the second time the competition took place. Bohemians also won the cup in the five following years. They got to keep the trophy, which is displayed in Dalymount Park.

Bohs last won the Leinster Senior Cup in 1997-98. In this 125th anniversary year, a 32nd win would be especially welcome.

“We must be fully committed in each game”

DROGHEDA UTD v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, United Park, Friday 25 September, 7.45pm

Bohemians go to Drogheda hungry for a win after three successive draws, but wary of a Drogs team that is “scrapping for points”.

Manager Keith Long is on alert facing a Drogheda team that took a 6-0 drubbing from Dundalk last week. “Dundalk could have done that to any team. They’re in unbelievable form at the moment. I don’t expect Drogheda to be feeling sorry for themselves after that result.

“I expect them to re-focus and be ready for Friday. They know that three points are so important in the battle against relegation,” Long said.

“They will have targeted this home game against us. But I can assure them we’ll be going there looking for a good performance and a win.”

Long continues to insist that his team is pursuing maximum points from the remaining games, even though Bohemians’ position in the table is assured.

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“We have a responsibility to ourselves and to the club to put in a performance every time we cross the line. The players have been reminded of that this week” said Long.

“We have to show respect for the league too. Every club below us is scrapping for points and we’ve got to make sure we’re fully committed in each game.”

Last Friday’s draw against Longford Town was a “missed opportunity”, according to Long. “With a full complement of players, we could have gone and won that game. It’s difficult to implement what you’re trying to do when you’re down to ten men and the momentum of the game changes.”

Bohemians’ work-rate and commitment in games have not weakened in any way, and midfielder Keith Buckley has set an example in that respect.

“He has become something of a legend in the club because of his travelling exploits [on bicycle] to and from Dalymount Park and I like how he has connected with the supporters,” said Long.

“He is very influential for us. His honesty and his work-rate are there for all to see. But I also want to see, as he develops, that the final pass becomes better.

“We’ve seen glimpses of that this season, like the pass he played against Shamrock Rovers in the build-up to our goal which he might not have played previously.

“But if we are looking for someone that epitomises the club at this time, we need look no further than Keith.”

The Bohemian manager was disappointed that the referee last Friday “put himself under pressure with soft yellow cards early in the game” but he was also disappointed that Buckley made a rash tackle when he was already on a yellow.

Buckley serves an automatic suspension this weekend. Anto Murphy is again sidelined with a groin injury along with James O’Brien who picked up a knock in training.

Dave Mulcahy is also doubtful having gone off with an ankle injury last week. Derek Pender and Marc Griffin, the long-term injured, remain out.

Dan Byrne returned to the matchday squad last week after nearly 18 months out of the game with a knee injury, apart from a very short interlude earlier this season. He has been in full training for three weeks, but is still building full strength and confidence to make him ready for a return.

“It has been very tough for Dan but I hope we’ll see him back in the team before the end of the season,” his manager said.

We’re more than a match for any team in the league

BOHEMIANS v LONGFORD TOWN
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 18 September, 7.45pm

Bohemians continue their quest for all points possible from the remaining league games, hosting Longford Town, who are just two places but 14 points behind them in the table.

Manager Keith Long sees an outside chance that his side could “sneak into fourth place”, due to St Patrick’s Athletic’s recent run of poor form. “It’s a big ask to catch them but we have to win a game like Friday’s to have a chance,” said Long.

Draws against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers have shown Bohemians to be “more than a match for any team in the league”, once again being difficult to beat.

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With a week off competitive football, due to a disappointingly early exit from the FAI Cup, Bohemians have Jake Kelly (hamstring) fully fit but Anto Murphy (abdomen) is a doubt for Friday. Murphy “put his body on the line”, when he played through pain in the Tallaght draw two weeks ago.

Bohemians’ defence kept Shamrock Rovers to a single goal despite missing stalwarts Roberto Lopes and Derek Prendergast through suspension. Both return this week, though the manager must sit out his second game in the stands, completing a two-game suspension.

Bohemians’ long-term injured – Derek Pender, Dan Byrne and Marc Griffin – remain out.

Partly through necessity, some squad members have had game-time in recent weeks after months on the bench. Dylan Hayes and Jason Caffrey have had chances and Long will aim to give these and others game-time between now and the end of season.

“Dylan has come into the team and done well. I was pleased how he played against Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers. We’ll take it one game at a time but I’m sure there will be opportunities for players between now and the end of the season to make a claim for next year,” Long said.

“There are six games left, and there is a bigger picture, but our goal is to get the maximum points from the remaining games. We’ll do whatever it takes to achieve that but we’ll also have one eye on what might take shape for next season.”

“PLAYERS WON’T NEED ME TO MOTIVATE THEM FOR THIS”

SHAMROCK ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Tallaght Stadium, Saturday 5th September, 3pm

Bohemians manager Keith Long says his players need ‘no motivation’ as they head into a huge Dublin Derby clash against fierce rivals Shamrock Rovers. The Gypsies take a fine run of recent Derby form into Saturday afternoon’s match – having lost just once to their old foes in the last 10 league games between the two.

“There’s got to be something wrong if you can’t get motivated for a Bohs v rovers Derby! The players are up for it, they won’t need me to motivate them, that’s for sure,” said boss Keith Long, who serves the first of a two-game touchline ban this weekend.

“Rovers have a squad full of good players. I’m sure they’ll be disappointed with their result on Tuesday [0-2 v Dundalk] and will be looking to bounce back on Saturday. We’ve got to make sure that our lads put in a good performance, and I have no doubt that they will.”

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Following a disappointing brace of results against Bray Wanderers, Long was pleased to see a much-improved performance against Dundalk last Friday. “I thought it was a good all-round team performance against the likely Champions. Obviously it was disappointing to concede so late on, but overall we can be nothing but pleased with the performance,” said Long.

With a win, a loss, and last week’s last-gasp draw against the reigning Champions / Champions Elect, Bohs have shown they can stand toe to toe with the best in the country. “We’ve shown in most of the games against the teams above us that we can compete. The players know that on their day, if they perform to their maximum, we can match any side in this league,” said Long.

“We’ve proven to be a thorn in the side of Dundalk this season, and it shows us that we’re not a million miles off if we can add to the squad wisely over the Winter months.”

With a raft of injuries as well as suspensions to two key leaders (Roberto Lopes and Derek Prendergast), this game gives some Bohemians players a chance to step up to the plate in the biggest game in Irish football.

“We’ll miss characters like that – Roberto has been outstanding this year along with Derek, who’s been an unsung hero for us. He’s been the consummate professional since he came to the club,” said Long. “But it’s an opportunity for other players to come in. It’s a great game to be involved in – and I’ve asked the lads to make sure that they don’t let Saturday pass them by.”

As mentioned above, Bohs will be without the suspended duo of Roberto Lopes and Derek Prendergast, with manager Keith Long also in the stands as he starts a two game touchline ban. Defender Anto Murphy is likely to miss the rest of the season with a groin injury. Jake Kelly (hamstring) is rated as highly doubtful, with Robbie Creevy and Jason Caffrey 50-50 to be fit in time for Saturday. Eoin Wearen returns to the squad following a concussion. Derek Pender (achilles), Marc Griffin (cruciate) and Dan Byrne (knee) remain on the longer-term injury list.

 

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