“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.

 

“We have to dust ourselves down”

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 28 August, 7.45pm

Bohemians need to rediscover their courage and to enjoy their football again as they seek a strong finish to their league campaign, according to manager Keith Long.

Bohs face Dundalk 12 weeks after they became (and remain) the only side to beat the league champions and champions-elect. But since that 2-1 victory at Oriel Park, a highpoint of the season, Bohemians have lost six of their nine league games and been beaten in the FAI Cup.

Long admits it has been difficult to overcome the disappointment of last weekend’s exit from the cup in controversial circumstances.

“We have to put it behind us as best we can. But, to be fair to the players, we certainly didn’t deserve to lose the game. I still feel we should have had a replay this week, because that wasn’t a goal,” the manager said. “We were the better side but maybe we were a little bit one-dimensional in our play.”

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Seeing the draw for the quarter-finals was “salt in the wound”, said Long, as he considered the prospect of a home tie against Killester United.

“We just have to dust ourselves down and make sure we’re right for Friday. It’s another big game and we’ll try to give our supporters something to shout about and get behind the team.”

Long aims to have his team find again the approach that brought such good returns. “We have to try and enjoy the game again and play with the courage we showed in the early part of the season,” he said. “We need to get back to having a go at teams, and being defensively organised.”

After a first series of league games in which Bohemians were largely injury-free and suspension-free, they have had several major set-backs, notably the long-term sidelining of Derek Pender, Marc Griffin and Dan Byrne.

Now midfielders Eoin Wearen (head injury) and Robbie Creevy (knee), who missed the cup match last weekend, remain out. Jake Kelly was cup-tied for the Bray game and now he is out with a hamstring injury from the earlier league match against Bray, while Anto Murphy is sidelined with an abdomen injury.

Despite this, Long insists that Bohemians “want to finish the season as strongly as we possibly can”. The squad is focused on getting the maximum return from the remaining eight games.

“We have committed to each other that we will give everything to every game. That’s the least that the team and the club deserve and we’ll see where that takes us,” Long said.

“Some games we haven’t been good enough to break down the opposition even when we’ve dominated the possession. It’s a learning curve and we are already planning ahead. But we won’t dilute the team in the coming games and we’ll be giving it a right go to the end.”

“We know how important this game is”

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS
Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup, Dalymount Park, Friday 21 August, 7.45pm

Bohemians meet Bray for the second time this week and the fifth time this season as they aim for a quarter-final place in the FAI Cup.

Manager Keith Long will have several regular starters back, who were rested for Monday’s league game. “We had one eye on Friday but, as it turned out, we didn’t get the result or the performance that I would have liked. It gives us a sharp reminder that Bray are in a good run of form,” Long said.

“We have as many points now as the team accumulated over the whole of last season. The logic of what we did on Monday was to make sure we were right for Friday. Only going through to the next round will justify that and, hopefully, we will be proven correct.”

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However, Monday’s defeat cost Bohemians not only potential points, but also injuries to two midfielders, Robbie Creevy (knee) and Eoin Wearen (head). Their injuries unsettled Bohemians’ approach to Monday’s game and both will be out for Friday. So too will recent recruit Jake Kelly, who is cup-tied.

Long paid tribute to the Bray players for battling hard through two changes of management. Bray have won six of their eight league games since the summer break, gaining nine points on Bohemians. However, it would take extraordinary circumstances to change Bohs’ league position as there are still 11 points separating them in fifth place from Bray in sixth.

“You’ve got to give the Bray players huge credit. They work extremely hard and we won’t take them lightly. We didn’t do soon Monday. I wasn’t surprised at Bray’s performance, but I was disappointed with our own.

“I would expect our players to give a good account of themselves because they know how important this game is to us as a group and to the club in general.

“The players will need no extra motivation and that’s going to be a big factor on Friday. I feel it will come down to which team that shows greater desire and I hope that will be us.”

Karl Moore missed the last league game through sickness, but he returns for Friday. Derek Prendergast, Anto Murphy and Keith Buckley, who were rested on Monday, are also available. Derek Pender, Marc Griffin and Dan Byrne remain out with long-term injuries.

Bohemians and Bray have already met four times this season, as they did in 2014 and 2013. In these 12 matches in three competitions, Bohemians have won eight. Bray’s last win in Dalymount Park was in October 2013.

Website by Simon Alcock