Preview: Bohemians v Drogheda United

Bohemians host Drogheda United in a game that can confirm Drogheda’s standing as runners-up or Bohemians’ qualification for the Setanta Sports Cup.

Bohemian manager Aaron Callaghan is delighted that there is something to play for.

“I wouldn’t want it any other way. You don’t really want a meaningless game with nothing at stake,” he said.

“This situation puts a bit of an edge on the game which is always good. I believe there’s a twist in this somewhere and I just hope the twist goes our way.”

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Both teams come to Friday’s clash from very good results last weekend. While Drogheda beat newly crowned champions Sligo Rovers 2-1, Bohemians put four past Bray Wanderers.

“We were on top even before they [Bray] had a man sent off. It was one of those games where you feel comfortable and you always feel you’re on top.

“Once we got the first goal I knew we were going to get a few more. Every player rose above their normal level.”

There has been very little between Bohemians and Drogheda in their three matches this season. An EA Sports Cup tie was decided on penalties after two hours of play produced a 1-1 draw.

It was 1-1 again in the league at Dalymount in May and a single Drogheda goal from a penalty settled a feisty encounter at Hunky Dorys Park in August.

Callaghan says his players appreciate the importance of a win on Friday. “Securing a place in the Setanta Cup will be no mean achievement. It’s fantastic to be playing for this, for the staff who put in such an effort, and for the players.”

Callaghan gave a debut last Friday to under-19 player Dylan Connolly who came on as substitute after 75 minutes. The manager may do something similar on Friday, as Bohemians look to a future based on a core of younger players.

But the manager’s options are also limited by injuries among the more experienced players. Injuries rule out Owen Heary (hamstring), Derek Pender (back) and Adam Martin (ankle), as well as Andy Mulligan (ankle), Luke Byrne (ankle) and Michael Barker (illness).

Bohemian fans have been urged to attend this season finale in large numbers to show their appreciation for the players’, managers’ and coaches’ efforts, while Callaghan acknowledged the “tremendous support from everyone involved.”

“We’ve had some highs and some lows but I think, in general, the fans understand the project and that we don’t have a lot of finance to compete with other clubs,” he said.

“They understand that we have had to play a lot of young players and that’s the way it is going to be for the foreseeable future.”

Preview: Dundalk v Bohemians

Bohemians go into their final three games of the season knowing that maximum points will almost certainly guarantee a top-half finish, bringing Setanta Sports Cup football to Dalymount Park next season, against all the odds.

Starting off this end-of-season run is a trip to bottom side Dundalk (Saturday, Oriel Park, 7pm).

The Lilywhites are doomed to a relegation play-off against either Longford or Waterford at the end of the season.

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But Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan doesn’t believe that means this will an easy game for his young side.

“I know they’ve had a few bad beatings in recent games, but I don’t think they’ll be resting players (for the playoff) to be honest,” Callaghan said.

“I think they’ll be trying to win as many games as they can. There’s a pretty big gap until the play-off, so I think they’ll be trying to get a bit of confidence back into their group.”

Callaghan dismissed notions that revenge would be on the minds of the Bohs players, following Dundalk’s victory in Dalymount in the FAI Cup Quarter Final last month.

Victory over Dundalk would be the Gypsies’ only clean sweep of wins against another Airtricity League team this season.“What’s gone is gone. We cant change the past. The cup game was just one of those nights, it took a special free kick to win it. From my point of view, it’s just about getting the three points”

“We’ve done well against them this season, won home and away. I didn’t think either side played well in the cup game to be honest. From our side, it’s about getting as many points as we can and trying to finish in that fifth spot.”

And what an achievement that would be. Considering the position the club were in in February, Callaghan believes a top-half finish would be a massive coup for his resurgent Bohemians.

“To cement a Setanta Cup place, having been where we were at the start of the season – not knowing if we even had a club – I think it would be an unbelievable achievement for everyone involved.”“I think it would be a massive achievement. Not only for the players – with the effort and the application they’ve put in this year, but also for the club.

Kevin Feely is suspended for the game against Dundalk following his red card against UCD, while Adam Martin is out with an ankle injury.

Otherwise, Callaghan expects to have a full squad at his disposal for the trip to Oriel.

PREVIEW: UCD V BOHEMIANS

Bohemians go to Belfield on Friday focused on finishing the season strongly. But they face an in-form UCD side that is clearly showing the same intention.

Manager Aaron Callaghan knows from his own experience as a UCD coach how well supported the college players are.

“They have some very talented young players and they’re a well organised unit. When they hit form they can beat anyone.

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“Their levels of fitness are very high. They train like full-time professionals. They have their facilities on-site and they can fit their training in around their schooling, which is an ideal model for any club.”

Bohemians beat UCD by a single goal in both of their league encounters this season, 2-1 at Belfield in April and 1-0 at Dalymount Park in July.

“When we changed the system at half-time we looked a far better team and we looked like we were going to win the game. If we can continue that second-half performance in the remaining games we will probably win more than we lose,” Callaghan said.

But UCD have won five of their last six league games and come to this match from an away victory against Derry City last weekend. Bohemians had to come from behind to secure a 1-1 draw at home to Cork City.

Callaghan believes some of his younger players may be affected by the demands of a full season at the top level. He has rested players as it seemed necessary but he says the onus is on the players themselves to ensure they remain fit.

“If you want to play in a professional manner in this league you have to look after yourself 24/7. That’s what we’ve been getting across to the players this year: they have got to take responsibility for their own fitness levels, their own nutrition, and their own psychological preparation.”

With ex-UCD player Keith Ward suspended, Callaghan’s selection choices are slightly narrowed but Derek Pender returns from suspension and Dinny Corcoran played himself into contention in a friendly earlier this week against Friday’s opponents.

Corcoran scored four times in a 6-3 win over UCD and could be competing with Kevin Devaney (22 on Wednesday) for a starting place.

Against UCD on Monday Bohemians fielded several of the players who have had less game time, including new signing Garreth O’Connor. He came off early in this week’s friendly with a hamstring strain and is ruled out for Friday’s match.

Ryan McEvoy returns from ankle injury and ex-UCD player Evan McMillan, now as crucial in attack for Bohemians as he has been in defence, faces a late fitness test for a knock he took last Friday.

Preview: Bohemians v Cork City

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 21ST  -  DALYMOUNT PARK, KICK-OFF 7.45PM

Bohemian manager Aaron Callaghan is determined to secure the highest-possible finish in the league and Friday’s game gives Bohemians an opportunity to move up a place in the table.

Callaghan is aiming at a possible place in the Setanta Sports Cup, that “would be no mean achievement”.

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“I think we can target 11 or 12 points from the five remaining games,” Callaghan said.

“The onus is on us to go out and win the games. If we make sure that the attitude of the players is right we can get a run of wins.”

Friday’s game is also an opportunity to get over last weekend’s cup quarter-final defeat to Dundalk. It came in a match which Callaghan thinks neither side deserved to win but also a performance from Bohemians that the manager described as “poor all over the pitch”

“There may have been a bit of stage fright. The euphoria of beating Shamrock Rovers was probably still in a lot of our minds and we were in the unusual position of being favourites.

“From our point of view the preparation for the game was no different. But if your head is not right as a player going into any match you’re going to get your comeuppance.

“In football you always have your next game to get over a disappointment. It’s done and dusted now and we have been focusing on the Cork City game.”

For Friday, Derek Pender is suspended and Ryan McEvoy (ankle) is unlikely to be fit. Kevin Feely returns today (Thursday) from a trial at Stoke City and will be assessed. Latest signing Garreth O’Connor is likely to be in the match-day squad on Friday.

For this final run of games Callaghan may give some of the fringe players a chance to prove themselves, also with an eye to next season.

“We’ll be looking at giving Andy Mulligan and John O’Connor, for instance, more game time and we’ll be looking at some of the under-19 players who have been doing well.”

Bohemians have recently registered several of their under-19 players with the senior team to give them the possibility of appearing in the remaining league games.

Preview: Bohemians vs Dundalk

“You’ll never win in Tallaght!” was the infamous chant from the Shamrock Rovers fans for the four years since the Hoops relocated to South Dublin, but it seems no one told Aaron Callaghan and his young side.

Kevin Devaney’s goal consigned that particular chorus to history on a magical night for Bohemians last Monday and now they go into an arguably more important game this Friday – their FAI Ford Cup quarter-final tie with Dundalk.

Gypsies’ boss Aaron Callaghan felt that both the result and the performance on Monday had been coming.

“It was fantastic, a great reward for all the players. We’d been OK over the previous four or five games performance-wise without getting the results, but everything just came together that night.”

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