PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v LIMERICK

BOHEMIANS v LIMERICK (Dalymount Park, Friday July 5th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians will test their resolve to improve their league home form when they welcome Limerick to Dalymount Park for the first time in seven years.

Manager Aaron Callaghan has taken much encouragement from his side’s two performances against Derry City since the season break.

In last Friday’s league game at the Brandywell, Bohemians “deserved at least a point” in Callaghan’s view.

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“Even Derry people commented on how well we played,” he said. “There was a little bit of naivete in the defending at times but it was against the run of play that they scored.

“We got back into it when Kevin [Devaney] scored and we might have nicked another. We kept going to the end and I’m a bit disappointed not to have got anything from it.”

On Monday in the EA Sports Cup against the same opposition, but in Dalymount, Bohemians put in “as good a performance at home as any all season”, according to the manager.

“We started well and we didn’t concede until the 82nd minute,” said Callaghan. “But when you look at Derry’s bench and at ours, you see the difference between the squads.”

Callaghan was very pleased with his débutants. Argentian Santiago Miguel Falbo was “neat and tidy” on his first start, came off early with cramp but took full part in training this week and is in the reckoning for selection again. Iraqi-born Zein Albehadlie (19) was “very strong” at right-back when he came on as substitute, though his lapse contributed to the first goal.

Meanwhile, Darragh Reynor, another player who has been on the fringe, also put in an impressive performance as a substitute.

Joining these players as contenders for selection is new recruit Conor Murphy (20), who has played with four league clubs, and has been brought to Bohemians “to take goal-scoring opportunities”.

“He knows where the goal is,” said Callaghan as he recalled clearly Murphy’s goal against Bohemians last August during his short spell with Derry City. Now he is looking to Murphy to help improve Bohemians’ modest goal-scoring record. The most recently signed Bohemian is available for Friday.

Callaghan hopes also to have Lorcan Shannon, a 19-year-old right-side midfielder, in his squad soon. Shannon has been on the books of Shamrock Rovers, was on loan to Dundalk last season, and trained with the Bohemian squad this week. Callaghan aims to complete his transfer in the coming days.

Captain Owen Heary (hip injury) has returned to full training, but may not be fit for Friday. Dave Mulcahy has recovered from illness and Derek Pender returns from suspension. But Stephen Traynor (ankle) remains out and Andy Mulligan is in Russia with the Irish colleges squad for the World University Games – a trip Traynor missed due to injury.

Ryan McEvoy and Ciaran Nangle both have sprained ankles from training and face late fitness tests.

“WE TOOK TIME TO REFLECT ON WHERE WE’RE GOING”

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS (Friday July 28th, The Brandywell, 745pm)

Bohemians return to action with back-to-back games against Derry City in the Airtricity League and EA Sports Cup on Friday and Monday.

Manager Aaron Callaghan took the opportunity of the season break to develop strategies with his squad for the remainder of the season.

“Sometimes you can’t see the wood for the trees, so we took time to reflect on where we’re going,” he said. “Our highest priority is to put a league run together, ensure we stay in the Premier Division and finish as high up as possible. We know we have to improve, and we have to improve our home form particularly.”

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Focusing on the club’s league position means that chasing a possible trophy in the EA Sports Cup takes second place.

“We’ll go to Derry knowing that three points would give us a huge lift. But to come away with a point would be fantastic,” said Callaghan.

“We have to take heart from the fact that UCD went up there and won and we had a good result in Sligo a few weeks back.”

Bohemians have secured notable draws on their travels, in Tallaght, Inchicore, Drogheda and Sligo. “Our home form has been baffling at times. We don’t seem to start games well at home and we need to address that,” said Callaghan.

“But we’ve had some fantastic results away from home. The young lads have stepped up to the mark and we’ll be asking them to do it again.”

Bohemians will have to rely even more than usual on the younger players as they will likely be without their three most experienced players for Friday. Owen Heary has a recurrence of his hip injury, Dave Mulcahy has been out of training with a virus, and Derek Pender is suspended due to his sending-off two weeks ago against Shelbourne.

There are also doubts that Dave Scully (ankle), Ryan McEvoy (virus), Stephen Traynor (ankle) or Kevin O’Leary (virus) will be fit for selection.

Callaghan is aiming to refresh his squad in the transfer window from next week. Ahead of that, Shane Fitzgerald and Dwayne Wilson have been released.

The manager is looking to let several more go, and is “actively pursuing the chances to bring in three or four lads, to ensure we strengthen in those areas where we need to most”.

IRISH PRIDE: DERBY TRIO ON THE RISE

BOHEMIANS v DERBY COUNTY (Saturday July 13th, Dalymount Park, 3pm)

Bohemians welcome Nigel Clough’s Derby County to Dalymount next month and included in the travelling party from Pride Park will be three current members of the Ireland international team – Conor Sammon, Richard Keogh and Jeff Hendrick.

Ireland boss Giovanni Trapattoni handed senior international debuts to a total of eight players in the past year, and among them were the Derby County trio, all of whom made their bows in a 2-0 friendly win against Poland in January.

Sammon will be familiar to many Dalymount regulars having lined out for UCD (2005-2007) and Derry City (2008) in the past.

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Club boss Clough is a keen admirer. After the striker made his international debut, Clough said: “To leave Conor on all game is the biggest compliment the manager could pay him. On your debut, you usually get about 60 or 70 minutes and then a pat on the back.

“To leave Conor on and against good opposition shows how well he did. He gave the ball away late on and chased back 60 yards and won a throw-in. That sums up Conor. We have seen that honesty and appetite for hard work all season. It is the main thing that attracted us to him.”

Although Sammon has yet to get on the scoresheet in his seven caps to date, the Malahide man played an important role in getting Ireland’s World Cup qualifying campaign back on track.

Most notably he won a penalty, converted by Jon Walters, in the 2-2 draw against Austria in March. He then unselfishly teed up Robbie Keane to seal his hat-trick in the 3-0 win over the Faroe Islands earlier this month, having also provided the assist for his skipper in the 4-0 friendly win against Georgia five days previously.

Keane said:  “Conor came on against the Faroes and set up another goal for me, so that was two from two games. He’s very effective. He’s so big but he’s also quick. Against the Faroes, a player had 10 yards on him out on the right wing but he caught him. I didn’t realise how fast he was until then.

“Height-wise, he is like Niall Quinn but they are completely different. Because he’s tall, people look at Conor as a target-man but he has pace as well. With the two goals he set up for me, he showed that he’s got that in his locker as well.”

But perhaps the highlight of the 26-year-old’s brief international career to date came in Ireland’s last outing, the New York friendly defeat against Spain earlier this month. Although the World and European champions ran out 2-0 winners, Ireland’s performance provided some encouragement for the future with Sammon’s physical presence proving a nuisance for the Spanish defence.

In one break, he muscled unsuspecting Barcelona star Gerard Pique off the ball to create a chance out of nothing. Although Sammon’s subsequent shot let him down, Keane was once again impressed with his efforts and said:  ”Conor was a handful. I don’t think Pique knew what hit him when the two of them went down the line. It was a good experience for Conor coming in against these players.”

Another man to have gained vital experience last season is Sammon’s Pride Park team-mate Keogh. Having signed from Coventry City last summer, he was immediately handed the captain’s armband by Clough and went on to make 49 first-team appearances for his new club over the course of the season.

Like Sammon, Keogh is also 26 and a also a late bloomer on the international stage. His first taste of football at that level was his brief cameo role against Poland, having come on as a late substitute for Ciaran Clark. The Essex-born centre-half had to wait until June to add to his international appearances but in doing so, he capped off his first Ireland start with a goal in the win over Georgia.

After the game, Keogh beamed:  “It couldn’t have gone any better really. Great to get a first start and show the manager what I can do. To top it off with a goal, I’m over the moon. Every since I’ve been involved I’ve been made to feel very welcome. I’m buzzing.”

But one of the brightest prospects for both Derby County and for Ireland is undoubtedly Hendrick. Still just 21, the Dubliner now has four caps to his name and has already made 91 first-team appearances for the Rams.

Having established himself as a first-team regular at club level, the former St Kevin’s Boys starlet it tipped to do likewise for Ireland in the future, but he is keeping his feet on the ground.

He explained: “International football is different to the Championship. You are playing against better players and if you do give the ball away, you are more likely to be punished. So you have to maintain possession all the time really and there are times you can get away with it in the Championship but that is less the case in international football.

“I thought I’d be staying with the Ireland Under-21s so I’m just happy Trapattoni gave me the chance. I just want to keep trying to get into the squad and keep trying to improve my game.

“Everyone dreams of doing that when you are younger, that is what you always want to do but I didn’t think it would come this quickly. Hopefully, I can get a few more games and keep improving my game and see where that takes me.”

TRAVELLING FROM DERBY FOR THE GAME?

Our good friends at the Temple Bar Hotel have joined us in welcoming Derby County supporters to Dublin.

The hotel, with an unrivaled location in the very heart of Dublin city centre, is providing special weekend bed and breakfast rates for the travelling Rams of €95 per single room and €125 per double room.

To make a reservation, please contact the Temple Bar Hotel at reservations@tbh.ie or call +353 1 677 3333 – and make sure to mention you’re coming to Dublin for the Bohs game!

Nestled in the most vibrant area of city centre bars, restaurants and nightclubs, and close to all major bus and rail links in the city, this hotel offers every possible amenity on its doorstep.

Dublin’s most popular shopping streets – Grafton St and Henry St – are both within short walking distance, while the city’s most popular tourist attractions are accessible by foot and by bus/Luas.

And that’s not all… The Temple Bar Hotel not only has a great location, but offers guests full entertainment facilities all under one roof! Check out www.buskersbar.com & www.alchemyclub.ie for more details.

 

“IT’S A CUP FINAL FOR BOTH CLUBS”

BOHEMIANS v SHELBOURNE (Friday June 14th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Bohemians boss Aaron Callaghan has described this Friday’s crunch North Dublin Derby with Shelbourne as a “cup final for both sides”, writes KEVIN FAGAN. Following last weekend’s heroic draw with champions Sligo Rovers, Bohs will be looking to get a valuable three points against their nearest rivals heading into the Airtricity Premier Division’s mid-season break.

Referring back to the Sligo game, Callaghan felt it was one of the Gypsies’ best performances of the season. “It was a fantastic performance. Not many teams go up there and come away with a result, especially in the last year. I thought the character of the team, the application and the work-rate was fantastic. But I think the key was Owen Heary coming back into the team.”

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Bohs’ veteran captain made a long awaited return to the starting line-up against Sligo, and there was surely no coincidence that the Gypsies kept their first clean sheet in 14 games with the former Shelbourne man in the side. “He just gives us that extra bit of experience”, said Callaghan.

“It obviously improves the communication amongst the defenders, and allows us to push Dave Mulcahy into midfield. When you have that type of experience, and work rate to come in, it rubs off on the young players. Owen is a winner, and it just shows you how important it is to have that experience in key positions.”

Looking ahead to this Friday’s clash, Bohs can stretch their lead over bottom-side Shelbourne to 11 points at the mid-season break. While Callaghan knows the importance of the game, he isn’t too concerned about the visitors’ place in the table.

“It’s a cup final for both clubs. Shels have improved under Johnny (McDonnell, new Shelbourne boss), he has them more organized. Both clubs know the importance of the game. Realistically, we have to look at the chasing pack around us. We know that Shels are within touching distance, but we can’t control what others are going to do.”

Callaghan acknowledges a mixed set of performances as we move past the half-way mark in the Airtricity League Premier Division.

“We’ve had some poor performances, we’ve had some mediocre performances, and we’ve had some very good performances. One of the key areas we need to address is our home form. We seem to be picking up some good points on our travels – we’ve got some good draws away to Drogheda, Pats, Shamrock Rovers, and obviously last week against Sligo. We know we have to improve our home form in the second half of the season”.

With the mid-season break approaching, Callaghan says that he will be looking to strenghthen the Bohs squad during the transfer window. “Budgets dictate what we can and can’t do, but we’ll definintely be looking to bring 2 or 3 in and maybe move two or three on who havent been playing much. I think at this stage of the season most clubs will be looking to do something.”

No players are definitively ruled out through injury for the Shelbourne game, but doubts include Owen Heary (hip), and Luke Byrne (dead leg). Keith Buckley is also nursing a hamstring strain, but Callaghan is hopeful all three will make the game.

“it’s my job to pick the guys up”

SLIGO ROVERS v BOHEMIANS (Saturday June 8th, The Showgrownds, 7.45pm)

Bohemians face a “David-and-Goliath match” as they return to league action but they are “going there to try and get points”, according to manager Aaron Callaghan, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

“If we can replicate the intensity shown in training on the pitch and get Owen [Heary] back with his experience, I can see things turning around for us, no problem,” said Callaghan, following defeats in league and cup in the past two weeks.

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“Lack of experience has at times gone against us and that can affect confidence but it’s my job to pick the guys up, ” Callaghan added.

“I think sometimes they don’t realise they can become good players, if they can get that bit of self-belief.  They’ve been working their hearts out since the start of the season and I believe the confidence they need at the moment will come back.”

Bohemians’ defeat to Drogheda in the FAI Cup last weekend “was not a three-goal game”, Callaghan insisted. “When we make a mistake we get punished for it. The other side of that coin is, when you get a rub of the green, it can change things for us. Against Drogheda, we hit the bar twice and we had a one-on-one.”

The manager is committed to giving his young players an opportunity to prove themselves and to develop. “It’s a positive for us that Adam Kelly made his début for us at 17 years of age [against Drogheda]. Most of the other squads are settled, with just one or two young lads, while we have a plethora of younger players with one or two more experienced ones.”

Striker Kelly had a break after the under-19 campaign and is working towards the fitness levels required for league action. Callaghan expects him to feature again in the remainder of this season, but is mainly looking to him as a prospect for next season.

At the other end of the age scale, Bohemians have “definitely missed Owen’s presence and influence”, the manager said. With Heary back, Dave Mulcahy can be moved into the centre of the park to help provide the kind of leadership that comes from “these guys who have gone through the mill”.

Heary (hip injury) faces a late fitness test for the Sligo trip but, as he possibly returns to action, another experienced player, Derek Pender (illness) is likely to be out.

There will also be late fitness tests for Luke Byrne, injured in training, and Keith Buckley, who came off in the last match with a hamstring strain. Andy Mulligan will be missing this weekend due to a family commitment.

Sligo Rovers, who have Anthony Elding and Evan McMillan suspended, have had a dip in form, Callaghan noted. “But it’s not over from their point of view. The gap at the top could be closed with a couple of results going against Pat’s. And it’s certainly not over for us.”

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