WE HAVE REFOCUSED

​LIMERICK v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Saturday August 19 2017, Markets Field, 6.30pm

Keith Long says Bohemians have refocused and are fully committed to the challenges ahead this season.

The Gypsies suffered an agonising FAI Cup exit away to Finn Harps last Friday.

Leading 3-2 in the third minute of injury-time, Bohs conceded a sucker-punch penalty before being dumped out 4-3 in extra time.

But manager Long believes his players know they cannot afford to dwell on the manner of that defeat.

He wants to consolidate Bohs’ position in sixth place – tomorrow’s opposition are just five points in eighth having been overtaken by St Patrick Athletic tonight.

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Long said: “We all know we’ve got to pick ourselves up, we have no other choice.

“The lads were devastated at the manner of the defeat in Ballybofey, you could feel that in training on Sunday.

“But we have refocused now. There’s been a bright and positive atmosphere in training since.”

While Bohs are currently in the top half, only six points now separate them and the relegation zone after tonight’s results.

Such is the congested nature of the table that nobody has stopped looking over their shoulders yet.

Long added: “We’ve eight really important games between now and the end of the season.

“We are not out of the woods yet, despite our current position.

“But our recent league form has given us every reason to feel positive.

“Limerick are a team in and around us so it’s important we try and give a performance capable of getting a result.

“Our form has been decent away from home so we have to go and give a good account of ourselves.”

TEAM NEWS

Oscar Brennan and Paddy Kavanagh are suspended.

With goalkeeper Greg Murray (hand) out for the rest of the season, Colin McCabe, signed from Celtic, will take his place on the bench.

Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remains out.

“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.

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