“It should be a good spectacle”

Keith Long believes there will be many twists and turns between now and the end of the season.

And he has challenged his Bohemians players to make sure they are at the right end of it.

Last Friday’s 4-1 thumping of Drogheda United brought Bohs one step closer to securing Premier Division football for 2017.

The position of tomorrow’s opponents looks more precarious – Liam Buckley’s side are only out of the relegation zone on goal difference.

But Long has ruled out any notion of complacency as he looks to consolidate Bohs’ place in the top half of the table.

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He said: “We’re not safe yet, despite what some may say.

“We still need points and we want to finish the season as strongly as possible.

“The complexion of the league table will change again tomorrow night.

“It’s up to us to look after our own result and our own performance to make sure we don’t get dragged down.”

A big crowd is expected for Bohs’ final Dublin derby of the season.

St Pat’s came away with the bragging rights from their last trip to Dalymount Park after a comprehensive 4-0 win in March.

But Bohs got revenge with a 3-1 victory at Richmond Park in June.

Long said: “It’s a big game, a good game to be involved in.

“They’re going to come here looking to win and so are we.

“It should be a good spectacle.”

Before last week’s trip to United Park, Long challenged his team to be more ruthless in front of goal having come up short in their previous league outing against Galway United, which ended 1-1.

They did just that with Keith Ward claiming a hat-trick against the division’s bottom side, while Dinny Corcoran added the icing on the cake with a sublime long-range effort.

Long added: “Wardy was on fire and Dinny’s goal was top notch.

“We asked the players to be more clinical and to deliver a 90-minute performance and they did.

“It’s not an easy place to go to, despite Drogheda’s position in the table.

“But it’s a different proposition tomorrow and we have to deliver another good performance.”

TEAM NEWS

Oscar Brennan (suspended) and Dylan Hayes (hip) will sit this one out alongside Eoin Wearen (cruciate).

“WE NEED TO BE MORE CLINICAL”

DROGHEDA UNITED v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday September 15 2017, United Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long says Bohemians are going to have to dig deep once more to get another victory at United Park this season.

Bohs face a Drogheda United side rooted to the bottom of the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division and in last-chance saloon if they want to beat the drop.

But Pete Mahon’s side have twice proved dogged opponents against the Gypsies this season.

Only a Dan Byrne header from a set-piece separated the sides at the same venue in March, while nobody could break the deadlock when they met at Dalymount in June.

Long said: “It’s a big game for both teams.

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“We had to work really hard for the points in United Park the last time, so we know we will have to produce a resilient performance again if we are to come away with the right result.”

An early exit from the FAI Cup saw Bohs go last weekend without a fixture and Long says his players are keen to get back on the pitch.

He said: “It’s been stop-start with the way the cup has been scheduled this year. But we’ve had plenty of tough training sessions instead and we’re ready to go.”

Long has also challenged his side to show more of a killer instinct in front of goal.

Last time out a fortnight ago, his side dominated Galway United in the first half but were disappointed to go in at the break leading by just one goal.

Bohs failed to carry the first-half tempo into the second period as Galway fought back to earn a 1-1 draw.

Long added: “The Galway first and second-half performances were like night and day. It was a reflection of our season in some ways.

“We were excellent in the first half but we need that for the full 90 minutes and we need to be more clinical in front of goal when chances present themselves.

TEAM NEWS

Lorcan Fitzgerald, whose free-kick set up Byrne’s winner at United Park last time out, misses out with a knee injury picked up in training.

Dylan Hayes (groin) and Ian Morris (suspension) return to the squad but Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remains out.

“OUR LADS WANT TO DELIVER”

​BOHEMIANS v GALWAY UNITED
Dalymount Park, Friday September 1, 2017

​Keith Long has urged Bohemians to make home advantage pay when Galway United come to Dalymount Park.

Many of Bohs’ most notable performances and results have come on the road this season.

But without a competitive game at Dalymount Park in four weeks, the Gypsies are determined to hit the ground running in front of their own supporters.

Long said: “Our lads want to deliver. We’re the home team, so the pressure is on us to go out and perform.

“Our supporters have been right behind us throughout at Dalymount this season and they’ve given the players great encouragement.

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“We’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve four home league games now between now and the end of the season and we want to improve our record at Dalymount.”

After the highs of beating both rivals Shamrock Rovers and champions-elect Cork City away in quick succession, Bohs were left reeling after an extra-time FAI Cup exit away to Finn Harps, which was followed by a defeat away to Limerick in the league.

Long said: “We’ve been disappointing in our last two games. We didn’t hit the levels we had shown we are capable of, which was frustrating.

“We felt we left points behind us in Limerick but our performance wasn’t what it should have been.”

There are only eight points between sixth-placed Bohs and 11th-place Galway, with everyone acutely aware that the division’s congested table can change very quickly.

Long said: “We want to consolidate our league position and we want to get back to winning ways.

“Galway have good quality in their side but we have to concentrate on our own performance.”

With both sides out of the cup, Bohs and Derry City faced off in a friendly at Dalymount Park last Saturday, which finished 2-2.

Long was suitably impressed with the performances of Under-19 players JR Wilson and Cian McMullen – the latter netted Bohs’ equaliser – off the bench that he has promoted them to the first-team squad.

Long added: “It was important to have that game. It means players won’t be cold against Galway.

“Some of them wouldn’t have played for three weeks had we not had a game.

“Graham Lawlor is doing great work with the Under-19s. They’re top of the league and it’s important we try and give players an opportunity to show what they can do.

“JR and Cian came on and did well. They deserved their chance with the first team.”

TEAM NEWS

Ian Morris (suspended) and Dylan Hayes (groin) are both out.

Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remains out but it is hoped he will resume full training this week.

Oscar Brennan and Paddy Kavanagh return to the squad after suspension as does Dinny Corcoran who missed the trip to Limerick due to family commitments.

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.

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