“IT’S A GOOD GAME TO START BACK WITH”

​ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
Friday June 16th 2017, Richmond Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians go into tomorrow’s Dublin derby determined to hit the ground running after the mid-season break.

Just five points separate the sides with Bohs currently seventh on 20 points and St Pat’s second from bottom on 15.

In an extremely congested table, the Gypsies are seven points off fourth place but also six points off the bottom.

Bohs manager Keith Long is keen to get points on the board to ensure the Gypsies are looking up the table rather than over their shoulders.

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Four of Bohs’ six wins this season have come away from home and Long is determined to add to that tomorrow.

He said: “We could have done without the mid-season break, I don’t really see the point of it.

“But it’s a good game to start back with. It’s a Dublin derby and Richmond Park is a great surface to play on.”

A full-time side, few would have predicted that St Pat’s would be sitting in the relegation zone.

But Long says his side will not get lulled into a false sense of security – Liam Buckley’s side have already humbled the Gypsies 4-0 in Dalymount Park this season.

Long added: “The table doesn’t lie but they turned us over the last time we played them, so we know all about the quality they possess.

“But we have to concentrate on our own game and ensure we put in a good performance.

“We’ve worked hard in training all week and we’ve hammered that home to the players.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs must plan without suspended duo Lorcan Fitzgerald (five yellow cards) and Dylan Hayes (additional two-match suspension following red card v Limerick).

Ismahil Akinade has stepped up his rehabilitation from surgery (to remove his spleen) by playing 45 minutes in a training game on Wednesday night. But he is still not ready to be considered for first-team action.

Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remains sidelined. Striker Steo Donnelly, signed from Usher Celtic, is not yet eligible to play.

“WE HAVE TO IMPROVE HOME FORM”

​BOHEMIANS v DROGHEDA UNITED
Friday June 2nd, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to start making “home advantage pay” as they bid to go into the mid-season break on a high.

In a congested mid-table, the Gypsies sit seventh on 19 points with six league wins to their name so far this term.

But four of those have come on the road and, with a strong home support so far this year, Long believes it is time to give the Dalymount faithful something to cheer about.

After an elating 2-1 victory in Bray two weeks ago, Bohs fell flat at home in a 2-1 defeat to Limerick four days later.

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They bounced back with a hard-fought 2-1 win away to Galway United last Friday night and now Long has told his troops to match that level of performance at home.

He said: “We will endeavour to end the first half of the season on a positive note before the mid-season break.

“Dalymount is a fantastic place to play football but we have to improve our home form in order for us to gain a measure of consistency.

“We have lost too many games at Dalymount despite the fact that our attendances have been very good and our supporters have been right behind us in every game.

“We’ve let ourselves down to an extent at home so far this campaign. We need to start grinding out results and make home advantage pay.

“If we can do that and continue our decent away form, we will give ourselves every chance of climbing the table.”

Long was particularly disappointed with the manner in which his side failed to register any points on the board from their last home game.

Having fallen behind to Limerick after 15 minutes, the Gypsies equalised through Georgie Poynton on the half-hour mark.

Momentum was in Bohs’ favour going in at the break, but they failed to push on in the second half and were left empty-handed when miscommunication at the back saw Dan Byrne’s own goal win it for Neil McDonald’s men.

Long said: “We were extremely disappointed. If ever there was a game that highlighted our home form, that was it.

“We didn’t play particularly well. When the game was in the balance, we needed to bring the game to the opposition but came up short.

“We conceded a late goal which was gut-wrenching in a game that we didn’t play well in but should have got something from.

“As a group we can learn from this and ensure that in future we are more demanding of each other and have leaders all over the pitch who are prepared to whatever it takes to get the job done.”

Despite the manner of that defeat, heads did not drop for the trip to Eamonn Deacy Park three days later as goals from Dinny Corcoran and Lorcan Fitzgerald secured all three points.

Long said: “We scored two really good goals in the first half and were dangerous on the break. But we really had to dig deep and soak up a lot of Galway pressure in the second half to get the points.

“It was difficult for the players having played three games in a week but the lads showed great determination and spirit to come away with a hard-earned win.”

In Pete Mahon’s ninth-placed Drogheda, Bohs once again face another side looking over their shoulders and scrapping for points.

Long added: “Drogheda have proved difficult opponents for us this season and we enjoyed the rub of the green in United Park.

They have some talented players and a very experienced backroom team. It is imperative now that we try and follow up last Friday’s good result with another win.”

TEAM NEWS

Paddy Kavanagh, who missed last week’s trip to Galway with a rib injury, remains a doubt. Dylan Hayes returns from suspension.

Eoin Wearen (cruciate) and Ismahil Akinade (recovering from surgery to remove spleen) remain sidelined.

TEAM NEWS v GALWAY

​GALWAY UNITED v BOHEMIANS
Friday May 26th, Eamonn Deacy Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians captain Derek Pender, a late withdrawal for the starting line-up against Limerick on Tuesday, remains a doubt with a groin injury.

Paddy Kavanagh is set to miss out with a rib injury sustained in the same game, while Dylan Hayes is suspended after his late red card.

Eoin Wearen (cruciate) and Ismahil Akinade (recovering from surgery to remove spleen) remain sidelined.

“IT GAVE EVERYONE A BIG LIFT”

BOHEMIANS v LIMERICK
Tuesday May 23rd, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long wants Bohemians to build some momentum tonight and prove Friday’s “big lift” was not just a once-off.

Going into the game against Bray Wanderers four days ago, the Gypsies had won just once in their previous seven in the league.

But Bohs upset the form book against high-flying Seagulls by coming from behind to win with a confident display, which was well deserving of all three points.

Long said: “It was a good win and a very pleasing performance.

“It’s given the players a big lift and hopefully it’s given everyone in the club and our supporters a lift too.

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“We came from behind to win it and that’s the second time we’ve done that against Bray this season, which is the kind of character we know we need.

“Bray were second in the table for a reason, so it was a very good result, especially given the run we were on.

“The challenge now is to build on it. We can’t dwell too much on one result – we’ve two big games this week.”

The first of those sees Bohs host Limerick at Dalymount Park tonight before travelling to Galway on Friday.

The Gypsies came out on top with a 1-0 victory the last time they faced the Shannonsiders in March, but much has changed at the Markets Field club since.

They parted ways with Martin Russell at the start of April and the highly-experienced Neil McDonald was finally appointed as his permanent successor as manager last week.

McDonald has previously bossed the likes of Carlisle and Blackpool and had served on the backroom team of former Limerick manager Sam Allardyce at Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham, and under Iain Dowie at Crystal Palace and Mike Phelan at Hull City.

Long said: “Limerick are not going to be easy opponents.

“They’ve a new manager who has worked at a very high level and while they lost to Dundalk on Friday, he will have had a few days working with them to try put his own stamp on things.

“With a new manager, we can’t be sure about what way he will approach the game.

“Under Martin, they were quite open and expansive. We just have to be ready to adapt to whatever way they set up.

“But we’re looking forward to it, we want to build a bit of momentum now.”

The return of frontman Dinny Corcoran has increased the optimism levels around the dressing room and understandably so.

Having scored five in five league games at the start of the season, Corcoran had been missing since being forced off with a knee injury against Galway United on St Patrick’s Day.

He got his first start since then against Shamrock Rovers 11 days ago and returned to form with two goals against Bray, dovetailing perfectly with a refreshed and bullish Keith Ward.

Long said: “It’s great to have Dinny back. We needed that focal point in the team.

“With us missing Dinny and Izzy Akinade, it wasn’t easy for players being asked to play in an unfamiliar role.

“But Dinny is a natural centre-forward and a natural goalscorer. We saw that again on Friday.

“He doesn’t panic in front of goal – his first against Bray was an exceptional finish after a great ball in by Keith.

“Wardy has probably suffered in Dinny’s absence. They have a brilliant understanding, it’s almost telepathic. The two of them were excellent.”

While Corcoran and Ward took most of the compliments, the boys at the back played their part too.

Long added: “We were disappointed with the goal we conceded to be fair but, collectively and individually, we were quite solid in defence otherwise.

“Derek Pender kept Dylan Connolly quiet for most of the night, which is no easy task.

“We put Ian Morris in at left-back – an unfamiliar role for him – because we thought his height would be an advantage defensively.

“Dan Byrne and Rob Cornwall were solid in the centre too and Shane Supple, as well as pulling off a few great saves, kept the pressure off the defence by coming forward and collecting corners and crosses.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs continue with an unchanged squad. Long-term absentees Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) the only players ruled out.

We will not be found wanting

BRAY WANDERERS v BOHEMIANS
Friday May 19th, Carlisle Grounds, 7.45pm

Bohemians boss Keith Long wants his players to dust themselves down as they aim to get back to winning ways.

The Gypsies are sore after last week’s 2-0 derby defeat to Shamrock Rovers but Long says nobody will be feeling sorry for themselves when they take to the field at the Carlisle Grounds.

He said: “It’s not easy for anyone at the club when you lose, especially to Rovers. Everyone was hurting. Training earlier in the week wasn’t a nice place to be for anyone.

“We had a full house last week that were right behind us and we don’t want to disappoint our fans.

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“It’s up to us now to go out, show what we are capable of and put things right.

“We’ve analysed the game and where we went wrong. We matched Rovers for much of the game but ultimately they were more clinical.”

In a congested league table, just seven points separates Derry City in fourth place and Bohs in 10th.

And having slipped into the relegation zone, Long has challenged his side to dig deep to climb back up again.

Bohs’ previous meeting with tomorrow’s opposition is the perfect reminder of the character his team possesses.

When they met in March, the Gypsies bossed the first half before falling 2-0 behind after the break. They refused to let that deter them and battled back to claim a 3-2 victory.

Long said: “There is plenty of fight and spirit in this team, they’re certainly not lacking that.

“But previous games have no bearing on this one. Bray are up to second for a reason. They’re an excellent team.

“But we know our results have to pick up and we will not be found wanting.”

There was one big positive to take out of the Rovers game, however, with star forward Dinny Corcoran playing the full 90 minutes.

With options up front already limited by the absence of Ismahil Akinade due to surgery to remove his spleen, Bohs could have done without losing another striker.

Last Friday was Corcoran’s first game since suffering a knee injury against Galway United on St Patrick’s Day – his team-mates scored just three league goals in his absence.

Long added: “You could see in his performance that he hadn’t played.

“He’s fit but there’s no fitness like match fitness, so it is a huge positive that he got the 90 minutes.

“We didn’t expect him to see out the full game but he will be all the better for it now.”

TEAM NEWS

Skipper Derek Pender, forced off with a groin injury last week, is expected to be okay to start.

Ismahil Akinade is continuing his recovery after surgery to remove his spleen. It is hoped that he will return to action at the start of July.

Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remains sidelined.

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