“WE HAVE TO BOUNCE BACK TOGETHER”

UCD v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, UCD Bowl, Friday 8th August, 7.45pm

Owen Heary is hoping his Bohemians team can get ‘back to basics’ following two disappointing Bank Holiday weekend defeats. A 4-0 league loss to Derry was shadowed by a disappointing 2-0 EA Sports Cup semi-final defeat to bitter rivals Shamrock Rovers, but manager Heary believes the Gypsies can get back to winning ways this Friday against UCD, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

“We shifted six goals last week, which is unlike us,” said Heary. “We’ve worked hard this week to try and rectify that. It’s about getting back to doing what we were doing. Last week in Derry we didn’t have the intensity or the work-rate that we had shown in previous weeks.

“It’s tough for the lads who are working heading up to Derry, and especially with younger players it’s hard to get consistency week in, week out. But in fairness to the lads, they’ve been brilliant for most of the season and we just have to get back to basics.”

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The UCD Bowl was the scene of an impressive opening night victory for Bohemians, but Heary is wary of a good footballing side under Aaron Callaghan. “In fairness to UCD, they are always looking to get on the ball and play out. We know it’s going to be a tough game, it’s a big pitch out there. UCD have had a couple of bad results of late but they’ve got all their players back for this weekend, so they’ll have a strong team out. But it’s important that we stick to our own game-plan, three points puts us right back up the table.”

Remarking on the unique atmosphere at UCD’s home games, the Bohs boss is hopeful that the ‘away majority’ at Belfield can spur his team on. “They are difficult games because the atmosphere is totally different – even when I was playing – you don’t get the abuse from UCD fans that you might get at Rovers or up in Derry. That could be a plus for us – if we get our fans behind us and cheering us on. Hopefully the fans get behind us like they have been all year, especially after the two bad defeats we have to try and bounce back together.”

Despite those defeats, Heary is still hopeful of a top-half finish and a Setanta Cup place for next season. He sees the next two fixtures against UCD and Drogheda as key games toward this target. “We know we need to beat these teams to stay ahead of the pack. UCD and Drogheda are at the level we’re at at the moment – so they’re two very big games in my opinion. We’re starting the last series of games and it would be great to get a win to hopefully put us in with a chance of a Setanta spot.”

Heary should have a full squad to choose from after Daniel Byrne’s recovery from tonsillitis. Kevin Devaney is also back in contention after a knock kept him out of Monday’s game.

Pic by Eddie Lennon – eddielennonsportingimages.com

DUBLIN DERBY THE PERFECT PICK-ME-UP

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS
EA Sports Cup semi-final, Dalymount Park, Monday 4th August, 7.30pm

Bohemian manager Owen Heary believes ‘there is no better way’ to bounce back from Friday’s defeat in Derry than by beating rivals Shamrock Rovers to reach a cup final, writes LUKE O’RIORDAN

Bohs’ impressive six-game unbeaten run ground to a halt in the Brandywell as the clinical Candystripes ran out 4-0 winners. It was the heaviest loss of Heary’s reign to date and he has challenged his side to make amends when Bohs welcome Rovers to Dalymount on Monday.

“We had two good chances in the opening few minutes to take the lead ourselves and if one of those had gone in, it could have been a different game,” he said.

“We lacked the work ethic that we’ve shown over the last while and the players know that themselves. But it was also a case of the intensity and effort that they’ve put into the last few games catching up on the lads too.

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“It’s frustrating, as a result up there would have put us right in the mix to climb into the top half and also put us in contention for a Setanta Cup place.

“But there’s no better way to bounce back than by reaching a cup final and beating Rovers in the process. That should drive the players on.”

The build-up to Monday’s game has been dominated by managerial change and speculation at Shamrock Rovers, with Trevor Croly parting ways with the club after less than two years at the helm.

Croly’s former assistant John Gill is set to take the reins on Monday and Heary has warned his players to be ready for a backlash after Rovers’ shock 4-1 defeat in Limerick on Friday.

He said: “Rovers have so many players, it’s impossible to predict who’ll start, especially with the change in manager and after Friday’s result.

“For all we know, their next manager could be sitting in the crowd, so their players will be really looking to impress whoever that may be.”

As well as two league titles, Heary also completed a clean sweep of domestic cup competitions as Bohs captain, winning the FAI Cup (2008), EA Sports Cup (2009) and Setanta Sports Cup (2010).

And now he is determined to win his first trophy as a manager. He said: “Hopefully we can give the fans something to cheer about.

“Everyone at Bohs – the players, the staff, the board, the fans – would love to have the club back where it belongs contesting finals and winning trophies. That has to be our aim.

“It’s been a tough few years and a trophy would mean so much to everyone.”

Despite a few players feeling ‘leggy’ and ‘sore’ after Friday’s game, Heary once again has a full squad to choose from. “We will freshen things up a bit but there are no major injury concerns,” he added.

“WE WON’T BE LACKING IN CONFIDENCE”

Two in-form teams meet on Friday night when seventh-placed Bohemians go to the Brandywell to take on sixth-placed Derry City, writes LUKE O’RIORDAN.

Bohs – unbeaten in six in all competitions – travel north buoyed having finally secured their first home league win of the season with an emphatic 2-0 victory against title challengers Cork City last Friday.

“We knew that win was coming,” said manager Owen Heary. “We’ve been playing well but a lot of little things have cost us at home all year: sendings-off, penalties, not taking our chances and some refereeing decisions.

“But we’ve been strong throughout. We’ve been creating a lot of chances but not taking enough of them – I would have been more worried if we weren’t creating opportunities and players weren’t getting into positions.

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“Nobody really gave us a chance against St Pat’s or Cork City but we got four points out of those games, so we won’t be lacking in confidence.”

Heary, however, is expecting a tough test at the Brandywell. Bohs’ last win at the venue came in September 2009 – they have lost four and drawn one of their five games there since.

Just three points separate the sides now with Derry sixth on 27 and Bohs seventh on 24 but the task facing the Gypsies is all the more daunting as the Candystripes have hit top form under Peter Hutton, who replaced Roddy Collins as manager in May.

Hutton’s men are unbeaten in six domestic games and have scored 11 in their two most recent victories over UCD (6-1, a) and Bray Wanderers (5-0, h).

And Heary said: “Derry are a much-changed team since the side we played in Dalymount (1-1 in May). We should have won that game but Peter came in shortly afterwards and has changed everything around.

“I know him well from his time at Shelbourne and from coaching courses. I knew he’d go in and do well and they’re on a high now.

“But our confidence is high too. That’s the thing about young players, they don’t lack confidence, especially after a run of good results.”

With one eye on Monday’s EA Sports Cup semi-final against rivals Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park, Heary is relieved to have a full squad to select from tomorrow.

Steven Beattie was eventually withdrawn as a precaution after banging his head while scoring the opener against Cork City last week, but he has suffered no ill-effects. Anto Murphy (shoulder) sat out training on Monday but has played a full part in sessions since.

“It’s important that we have everyone available as we’ve two massive games over the next four days,” Heary said. “We’ve got a settled team now and everyone is enjoying it but we’ll have to rotate a little between the two games.”

Heary is also delighted to have kept hold of his most important players over the July transfer window, with 23-year-old midfielder Kevin Devaney the most recent player to sign professional terms after two years as an amateur with the club.

“Kevin’s improved a lot as a player and there was interest in him over the window,” Heary added. “We haven’t got great resources here but thankfully we’ve kept the squad intact.

“There was interest in the likes of Eoin Wearen too, but he is already under contract until the end of the season. It’s a squad game and other clubs taking notice is a testament to how well Eoin and the other young players around him have done in recent weeks and months.

“When you’re keeping someone like Dave Mulcahy out of the team, you know you’re doing something right.”

Pic by Eddie Lennon – eddielennonsportingimages.com

“WE CAN MIX IT WITH THE BEST”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dalymount Park, Friday 25th July, 8pm

Bohemians boss Owen Heary is hoping his side can continue their good form following an unwanted two-week break from competitive action. With last week’s trip to Sligo postponed following the Bit O’Red’s European travels, it’s been a fortnight since the Gypsies’ excellent performance in the 1-1 draw at home to champions St Pat’s, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

Heary puts the good run of form (undefeated in five) down to a mixture of hard work and having a settled team. “It’s down a settled team alright, but its also down to the fact that everyone is working hard in training. You can see their fitness level is good, they’re starting to get into a bit of a rhythm now as well. It’s down to the players – they’re the ones working hard in training and off the pitch.”

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Heary hopes the players can keep that intensity for the visit of title-chasing Cork City, who arrive in a wonderful vein of form under John Caulfield. Unfortunately, the spectre of no home wins is still lurking over the Phibsborough side. “It’s unfortunate that we haven’t got that little bit of luck at home – lots of people who watched the Pat’s game said we deserved to win, you think about the penalty against Athlone, one or two sendings off, we’ve been unlucky. But at least we’ve been picking up some points as well as getting good results away from home, and hopefully we can rectify that home form this week.”

Cork City have been a revelation in the league this season (joint top with Dundalk going into Friday’s game), but Heary isn’t surprised by the Leesiders’ fortunes. “They’re like the Cork teams of old – they’re strong, physical, they can mix it if they want. But they’ve also got some very good young players. The squad they’ve put together is excellent, I said it at the start of the season and they’ve proved it”.

Bohs were excellent on a wet night in Turners Cross in April, and Heary is looking to take the positives from that 1-1 draw into tomorrow’s fixture. “We should’ve won that game, we had three or four great chances to win it in the second half. We matched them all over the pitch, and going down to Cork and playing like that means that it shows – mentality wise – that we can go and give the bigger teams a game.”

Heary was disappointed not to be able continue on from the Pat’s game, but hopes his side can keep up the good work against Cork City this Friday. “I would have liked to have played the game (against Sligo), it would have been a good time to get them after playing in Europe,” he added. “Unfortunately it means we’ll have to play them on a Monday or a Tuesday, which will be difficult. Sligo are a full-time team, so it’s tough on our lads who have to take time off work. But we know we can mix it with the teams ahead of us, so hopefully we can push on, get a few more wins, and get a top-half finish.”

Heary may have to plan without midfielder Craig Walsh, who is doubtful after a bout of tonsillitis during the week, while former Ballymena United goalkeeper Aaron Shanahan has been brought in to provide competition for Dean Delany for the No 1 jersey.

“WE’RE CAPABLE OF BEATING THEM”

BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 11 July, 8pm

Bohemians welcome the league champions to Dalymount for a televised match (Setanta Ireland) following three wins in four competitive games, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Those wins all came on the road but manager Owen Heary is confident his side’s home form will improve.

“Against Athlone here it was only a missed penalty between us and a win. We beat Pat’s here in the EA Cup and they had a decent team out that night [6 May].

“So, we know we’re capable of beating them, and we know we’ve just been a bit unlucky in terms of winning games in Dalymount.”

Even with Keith Fahey suspended, St Patrick’s will represent very formidable opposition, added Heary. “They have a massive squad, and not only a lot of players, but players of high calibre. They have a European game next week but they have the squad to cover both games.

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“We are coming into this one on a high and we will take the game to them. We’re not going to sit back and see what Pat’s have, because if you sit off them they will punish you.”

Heary was happy that Bohemians started last week’s game in Limerick at the level of intensity he wanted. They were unlucky to concede a goal against the run of play, from failing to deal with a long throw.

“We deserved the three points down there. We created most of the chances in the first half and in the second half we took two of the late chances. It was positive that we kept going till the 90 minutes. That win proved that the earlier one in the cup wasn’t a fluke,” said the Bohemian manager.

The win was secured despite Dinny Corcoran having a penalty saved for the second match in succession. Heary commended his striker for having the confidence to step up again, when the experience of the World Cup shows that the very best players can miss penalties.

“I wasn’t one for taking penalties and I have full respect for anyone that does. I didn’t see anyone else last week rushing to take the penalty.”

Stuart Taylor quit as Limerick manager in the days after that defeat, joining Ian Barraclough and Robbie Horgan among the recent managerial casualties. Clubs that are putting bigger investments into their facilities and squads have higher expectations, observed Heary.

“If you have a full-time squad like Limerick you expect to be doing a lot better than where they are at present. Drogheda too have put a lot of money in.

“That increases the pressure on the manager. Thankfully, I don’t think I’m under too much pressure of that kind.”

Eoin Wearen put in another solid performance last Friday in midfield, having impressed both there and in defence since he joined ten weeks ago. His first goal for Bohemians was just reward for his efforts, according to Heary.

The manager will reshuffle his midfield this week with captain Dave Mulcahy’s return from hamstring injury. Defender Aidan Price also comes back from ankle injury but left-back Jack Memery will have a late fitness test for a knock to the knee.

Heary will take the opportunity of friendlies against Dundee United (Saturday, 12 July, 3pm) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wednesday, 16 July, 7.45pm) to give ‘fringe’ players and some under-19s a test at higher levels.

Pic: Eoin Wearen in action against St Pat’s in the EA Sports Cup (Eddie Lennon, eddielennonsportingimages.com)

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