“LAST WEEK WAS A BLIP”

LONGFORD TOWN v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, City Calling Stadium, Saturday 4th July, 7.30pm

Bohemians boss Keith Long is hoping his side can ‘regroup, re-energise, and get a result’ as they travel to the Midlands to face Longford Town this Saturday. The Gypsies suffered a disappointing home defeat to Drogheda United last time out, and the manager is hopeful they can bounce back quickly.

“It was a disappointing result – we were at home, and we’re expected to win. But hopefully we can bounce back with a result and performance against Longford. Last week was a blip and we need to get back to basics and do the things that have served us well in the games to date.

“Games against Drogheda and Longford are extremely important for us. We need to keep going and keep the pressure on the teams above us – and the only way we can do that is by winning football matches.”

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Tony Cousins’ side should pose a significant test for Long’s men, who ran out 2-0 winners when the teams met at Dalymount Park in April. “Going to Longford is not going to be easy. They’ve come up from the First Division with a very experienced squad of players,” said Long. “They’ve done extremely well so far this season, but they’ll equally be looking for a win having lost their last couple of games.”

With the four teams above the Gypsies in the table involved in European action over the next few weeks, Bohs have an opportunity to pick up points on the full-time sides above them. “It’s an opportunity to get points on the board, so let’s see how the league table looks after the weekend ,” said Long.

“It does help that we don’t have the distractions of Europe – and we’d like to be in that position this time next year. We’re ambitious, but we have to be realistic about our ambitions too.”

Despite their excellent start to the season, Long insists that his side are still taking it one game at a time. “You can’t look past the next game. If you do that, and get ahead of yourself, you can come unstuck. The second series of games is notoriously difficult – teams have a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses and are therefore better prepared.”

Bohs hosted recently-promoted Scottish Premier League side Hearts in a friendly game on Wednesday night and Long was happy to give some returning players and young players game-time against quality opposition. “I thought it was a good exercise, and I thought we played very well,” said Long.

“It was good to get decent game time for some players and it was a good run out for some members of our Under 19 squad. They did themselves no harm in terms of their performance.”

Bohs will be without Dylan Hayes (back), while the Longford game will be too soon for Jason Byrne (calf), who only returned to training this week. Stephen Best suffered a gash on the head in the game against Hearts, but should be fit to be part of the squad in Longford. Derek Pender (achilles), Dan Byrne (knee) and Marc Griffin (cruciate) remain on the longer-term injury list.

“The challenge is to try and improve”

BOHEMIANS v DROGHEDA UTD
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 26 June, 7.45pm

Bohemians resume their league campaign determined to maintain at least their present position in the table.

Finishing the first half of the season and a very intense week with victory over Shamrock Rovers, was “fantastic”, according to manager Keith Long.

But he and his squad are fully focused on the games ahead. “The real challenge for us is to try and improve in the second half of the season. The same three points are on offer this Friday as they were against Shamrock Rovers,” Long said.

“You’re always a little anxious how the players will react, coming back from the break. But they have come back in good spirits, trained well this week and are fully focused on Friday’s game against Drogheda.”

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Long expects a very competitive game as Drogheda United look to move up the table. Last April in Drogheda Bohemians came away with a 2-1 win, thanks to a late goal from sub Marc Griffin.

Eight yellow cards were handed out that evening, including two in quick succession for ex-Drogheda player Derek Prendergast. Bohemians played 70 minutes with ten men, showing the grit that has become their trade-mark this season.

Long believes Drogheda may come to Dalymount feeling “a little aggrieved” at that result and wanting to “take something from the game”.

“I have seen them play a few times this year away from home and they’re organised, difficult to break down and can exploit on the counter-attack,” he said.

The season-break has given time for Robbie Creevy (groin) to recover fully and for Paddy Kavanagh (knee) to get back into training, though he is likely to be out until next week. Kealan Dillon had tonsillitis during the break but is fit again.

Still out are the longer-term injured, Derek Pender, Dan Byrne and Marc Griffin, and Jason Byrne will be out for a few weeks with a calf strain, while Dylan Hayes (back) is also sidelined.

Dave Mulcahy and Anto Murphy benefited from the week off to regain full fitness, having returned from injury to play key roles in the win over Shamrock Rovers.

“They’re experienced players, they’ve been around the league a long time and they know what it takes to win games like that,” said Long. “They were pivotal in that win.”

“The players will need no motivation”

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 12 June, 7.35pm

Bohemians have to put Tuesday’s defeat behind them quickly and put in a “big performance” in another Dublin derby, according to manager Keith Long.

For the third time in seven days Bohemians face top-five opposition when Shamrock Rovers come to Dalymount. But Long is confident his team can quickly get over the disappointment of Tuesday’s game.

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“We’re not in bad form because of one defeat. We have put Tuesday’s loss behind us, and I expect the players to put in a big performance on Friday night against out fiercest rivals,” he said.

“It’s a quick turn-around and we can’t dwell on the Pat’s result. In training, the lads have been bright and breezy and cannot wait for Friday’s game.”

Long considers that the big demand of the schedule on a part-time squad, the injuries in the squad, and St Patrick’s Athletic finding their best form all contributed to Tuesday’s loss.

“Overall, we’ve got to be positive. We put in a great performance up in Dundalk, not so good on Tuesday. But you have to give credit to Pat’s as well, who are a very good side and who have found their rhythm of late.”

Rovers come to this game after high-scoring victories at home against Derry City and Sligo Rovers in the past week.

“They’ll be full of confidence coming to Dalymount Park, and wanting the win. But from our perspective, we’ve got to make sure our players want it more than they do. It can come down to that in a derby game,” said Long.

“Friday’s is a massive game for us, one we’ve been looking forward to all season and the players will need no motivation for it.”

Long expects to have Dave Mulcahy back, having missed Tuesday’s game with a calf injury, and possibly Anto Murphy (ankle). Stephen Best, who got a kick in the head against Dundalk, will be available for Friday. But Robbie Creevy who was subbed in the first half against St Patrick’s Athletic is likely to be out with a groin injury.

Longer-term absentee Paddy Kavanagh (knee) will be sidelined until after the summer break, and Dan Byrne has had a set-back in his return to action. He came on as a sub in the FAI Cup match against Firhouse Celtic two weeks ago after a long absence with cruciate injury. But he is out again, probably for a month, with a knee cartilage problem.

Marc Griffin (cruciate) and Derek Pender (Achilles) remain on the long-term injury list.

“We’ll be going there to have a go”

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Richmond Park, Tuesday 9th June, 7.45pm

Bohemians boss Keith Long is hopeful his side can build on a good team performance against Dundalk last Friday as they head into two crunch Dublin derby fixtures over the next four days. The Gypsies travel to Inchicore to face St Patrick’s Athletic tomorrow night before a clash with Shamrock Rovers at home on Friday.

Reflecting on a magnificent result against the Champions and league leaders, Long was quick to praise the resolve and work-rate of his players. “I’m delighted for the players. In every aspect of the game they did what we asked them to do. They defended when they had to defend and were brave when they had the ball,” said Long.

“We worked extremely hard and I thought we were good value for the win. Dundalk are champions for a reason, so going up there and picking up three points was fantastic for us.”

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The manager was delighted to see a return to top form for his team, who are now just one victory away from matching their win tally from the 2014 season, with less than half of this campaign gone. “I think Friday was a real return to what we’re about. The lads went out and worked extremely hard for each other,” said Long.

“That’s the foundation for everything we do. If we work hard and we’re honest, we’ve got a chance. The players recognise what they need to do to win football matches, and I think we’ve shown that we’re more than a match for any team in this league.”

With that result in the bag, Bohs can look forward without fear to games against the teams directly below and above them in the table this week.

“It’s going to be a difficult task, but we’ll go to inchicore in a good frame of mind. I don’t think any team holds any fear for us. Obviously, we’ve great respect for St Pat’s, but it’s not about them from our point of view,” said Long. “We’ll be going there to have a go, as we have done in all the games so far.”

The Bohs boss knows that Liam Buckley’s side are a threat, with the Saints having won in Dalymount Park earlier in the season. “Pat’s are a good footballing side, they can punish you in a lot of areas. We’ve got to try and put in a good performance, and if we play close to how we did on Friday, we’ve got a great chance.”

Long will have to plan without Stephen Best after the defender suffered a head injury on Friday. Dave Mulcahy, Paddy Kavanagh, and Anto Murphy are all doubts for the clash against St Pat’s. Derek Pender (achilles) and Marc Griffin (cruciate) remain on the long-term injury list.

“We are taking nothing for granted”

BOHEMIANS v FIRHOUSE CLOVER
Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup, Dalymount Park, Friday 29 May, 7.45pm

Bohemians welcome Firhouse Clover “taking nothing for granted” but determined to regain the winning habit. Manager Keith Long is looking for a confident, positive team performance.

“The cup throws up shocks and we’re hoping Friday night won’t bring one for us,” he said.

“We are taking nothing for granted. We will be as prepared as we can be and we will give Firhouse every respect. It’s a big competition and we want to progress to the next round.”

The Bohemian manager takes some comfort from an improved defensive performance against Bray last weekend after the disappointments in two matches in Galway.

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“But we need to be better in possession, penetrate more and create goal-scoring opportunities. We didn’t do that enough against Bray. A good result and performance on Friday will give us confidence ahead of our league fixture in Dundalk the following week,”
Long has to prepare for this cup tie and for the rest of the season without captain Derek Pender who faces an operation next week for an Achilles injury.

“Derek has been a huge player for us. He may not be the most vociferous of captains but when he talks, people listen. He leads by example in his displays and to have his influence taken away at this stage is very disappointing,” said Long.

Dave Mulcahy (hamstring) was injured in the EA Sports Cup replay against Galway and is out for the FAI Cup tie, as are Anto Murphy (ankle) and Paddy Kavanagh (knee), both injured in last Friday’s game.

Dean Delany is available again, having missed the Bray match through suspension, but substitute goalkeeper Lee Steacy put himself in contention with his clean sheet.

Firhouse Clover are in the FAI Senior Cup on the strength of reaching the semi-final of the FAI Intermediate Cup, where they were knocked out by the eventual trophy-winners Crumlin United. In the first round of the FAI Senior Cup a month ago, Firhouse Clover beat Glenville 1-0.

Firhouse play in the top division of the Leinster Senior League and are currently mid-table. Last weekend they beat Bluebell United to win the Lanigan Cup.

The club was formed in 2007 through the amalgamation of Firhouse Celtic and Clover United, and is based at Tallaght IT sports grounds.

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