“We’re at home, the onus is on us”

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 21st May, k-o 7.45pm

Bohemians boss Keith Long is hopeful his players can bounce back from a disappointing weekend in Galway and get back to winning ways at home to Bray Wanderers this Friday.

The Gypsies suffered an uncharacteristic 5-3 defeat in the league and were beaten by a solitary goal after extra time in the EA Sports Cup on Monday, but Long is keen to ensure that the trend doesn’t continue.

“We were disappointed. From our point of view it was a drop from the level the players have set for themselves this season. We made mistakes and were punished – you can’t afford to do that in any game,” said Long.

“It’s one of those things that can happen in football, you can have an off night. But we have to put it behind us, we have to learn the lessons from Friday and ensure that we put in an improved performance against Bray at home.”

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After tasting back-to-back defeats for the first time this season, Long insists the players are keen to get back to winning ways against Trevor Croly’s men. “We’re at home, the onus is on us to go out and win the game, and that’s the way we approach it. But we know Bray will be a tough game. They’re scrapping for points, and there’s no easy games in this league.

“I expect them to be well-organised. I watched them last week [against St Pat's] and they defended very well. Obviously a new manager brings new ideas, a new voice in the dressing room, and their players will get a bounce from that.”

The Bohs boss also had a special word for the Dalymount Park fans, who were in great voice in the last home game against Limerick. “It’s massive, I don’t think you can overestimate the importance of the supporters getting behind the team,” said Long.

“It’s vital. Players get a lift when the supporters get behind them and encourage them. In the last 15 minutes against Limerick we played on the front foot and got them excited. We’ve got to try and set the tempo tomorrow, and the supporters play a huge role in that.”

Goalkeeper Dean Delany is suspended following his late red card in the league game against Galway. Bohs have fitness concerns over Derek Pender, Anto Murphy, Dave Mulcahy, Dean Kelly, and Paddy Kavanagh, who will all be assessed before Friday’s game.

“I expect to see a reaction from the players”

GALWAY UNITED v BOHEMIANS
EA Sports Cup quarter-final, Eamonn Deacy Park, Monday 18 May, 7.45pm

Bohemians return to Galway on Monday determined to bounce back, according to manager Keith Long.

Friday’s defeat in the league was “very disappointing”, Long said. “Our performance was nowhere near the standards we have set for ourselves to date and everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong,” he added.

“But we don’t have any time to feel sorry for ourselves. We have a great opportunity to get to a semi-final and we will travel to Galway on Monday looking to bounce back.

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“It will be a test of our character and I expect to see a reaction from the players.”

Derek Pender was a late withdrawal from the squad on Friday and will have a scan on his leg on Monday.Dean Delany is available despite his sending-off. His automatic suspension will rule him our of the next league game, at home to Bray Wanderers on Friday.

“We know it will be a difficult game”

Galway United v Bohemians
SSE Airtricity League, Eamonn Deacy Park, Friday 15 May, k-o 7.45pm

Bohemians make back-to-back trips to Galway this weekend as they look to maintain their unbeaten away record in the league and advance to the EA Sports Cup semi-finals.

Keith Long’s side twice face Galway United, who have had recent victories over Derry City, Bray Wanderers and Limerick.

“Against Limerick last Friday we got the desired result and we’re pleased with that. But we switched off at times and Limerick came more and more into it.

“The equaliser woke us up and we created quite a number of chances in the last 15 minutes,” said Long.

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Three substitutions contributed to Bohs’ eventual victory, which Long sees as a success for the squad. While Jason Byrne’s winning goal “grabbed the headlines”, fellow-subs Marc Griffin and Keith Buckley also were key to the victory.

“I’m very pleased for Jason because he’s had limited game-time. That goal will be good for his confidence, which he needs, even with all the experience he has,” said Long.

“You hope that the substitutions have a positive impact, and certainly all three did on Friday.

“We’ll have to play better in Galway. We will go there aiming to give a good account of ourselves and looking to pick up the three points. But we know it will be a difficult game.”

Long insists he will not decide on possible team changes for Monday until the league match is out of the way. For Friday, he has a full squad to select from.

Anto Murphy missed the Limerick game on medical advice, following a mild concussion from the previous league match, but returned for Sunday’s fixture as captain on the day.

“The players refuse to accept they are beaten”

BOHEMIANS v LIMERICK
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 8 May, 7.45pm

Bohemians start the second cycle of league games playing Limerick, against whom they got off to a flying start with a 3-0 win two months ago.

Manager Keith Long is putting the first phase of the campaign behind him as he aims, game-by-game, to keep Bohemians in the top half of the league.

After a “vital” point at home on Monday against Cork City, Long is looking to improve Bohemians’ Dalymount results.

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“It was vital to get at least a point at home against one of the top teams, after losses to Dundalk and St Pat’s,” he said. “The team showed great character and spirit to secure a draw. For the supporters, it probably felt like a win, scoring so late in the game.”

Long notes that Limerick’s form has been improving and he expects a keen contest. “Limerick have picked up recently. They were unlucky not to win against Shamrock Rovers, they held league leaders Dundalk, and they got a late point up in Sligo. They’re looking to climb up the table and coming to Dalymount won’t hold any fear for them.

“But these are the bread-and-butter games we have to win. We’ve stressed to the players that there is no room for complacency. The first phase of games is gone now, and we start again on Friday.”

Against Cork on Monday, the Bohemian manager was disappointed with his team’s first-half performance, going behind very early, and being “a little tentative in approach, giving the ball away too easily on occasions”.

But “the players are hungry, have a belief in themselves, and refuse to accept they are beaten”, the manager insists. Their determination in the second half and a brilliant volleyed goal from Adam Evans more than made up for the first-half disappointment.

Defender Anto Murphy, subbed at half-time after a collision, is unlikely to be available on Friday as he is medically assessed for concussion. The opportunity for Dan Byrne to make his return comes just too soon, however, as he works his way back to full fitness after a long lay-off with a cruciate injury.

Dean Kelly missed the Cork game due to a family commitment but is available for Friday.

Sunday’s Leinster Senior Cup fixture in Bray against Newtown gives Long a further chance to try different combinations and use players who have had few competitive games.

“We’ll have a turnover between Friday and Sunday,” he said. “We have players who need games and we need to see them in action with big games the following weekend away to Galway Friday and Monday in the league and EA Sports Cup.”

“IT’S NO LONGER A QUESTION OF JUST A GOOD START”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Monday 4 May, 5.10pm

Bohemian manager Keith Long is asking his players to “express themselves” as his team faces a major test against Cork City on Monday.

This contest for a place in the league’s top three comes after Bohemians came from a goal down to win in Derry.

“We’ve asked the players to express themselves on the pitch. They’ve shown in their performances that they have a belief in what they are doing,” said Long.

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“Winning breeds confidence and we’ve done well so far. But we won’t take any team for granted and we won’t be complacent.

“We bounced back well from the home defeat to St Pat’s. If we can finish off the first series of games with a win against Cork, that would be fantastic.”

Starting in Derry with two strikers for the first time, Bohemians had to adapt when going behind. “It was a hard-fought win and that’s what you have to do at the Brandywell. Dean Delany made a wonderful save at the end to secure the win.”

The goals came from excellent team-work as well as individual skill, Lopes laying off to Dillon and Kavanagh crossing for Griffin to score.

Bohemians have tried different combinations up-front in training and Long has several more options. “Griff[in] can play out wide too. Different games, different horses for courses, we’ll change things up as we see fit.”

Long has a full squad to choose from, with Robbie Creevy fully fit and Dan Byrne back in competitive training for over a week after his long lay-off.

“We have everybody available and we need everybody pushing to achieve whatever it is we can achieve. At this stage, we don’t know what that is but we cannot and will not get ahead of ourselves” the manager said.

“But it’s no longer a question of just a good start. The league doesn’t lie and twenty points from ten games is a decent return.

“We have surprised many people so far and we’ve probably surprised ourselves to a certain extent. But I believe in the players and in the mentality of this group and I think there’s more in them.”

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