POSITIVE VIBES

BOHEMIANS v DROGHEDA UTD
Friday March 14, SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians go into their first home match of the league season in a strongly positive frame of mind, according to manager Owen Heary. Three matches in three competitions have shown Bohemians’ ability to score goals (11 in all), their mean defence, and their strength in depth, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Heary has played all but two of the squad and demonstrated convincingly that he has cover for all positions. But he retains a firm view of his best XI – injuries and suspensions permitting.

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“I suppose you might say we have a selection headache, but on the plus side we know that any player we choose is well capable of doing the same thing we’re doing, week-in and week-out,” he said.

Friday’s game brings together two teams with 100 per cent records in competitive football in 2014, and two managers who are at early stages in their careers. Heary and his Drogheda counterpart Robbie Horgan are classmates on the current FAI Pro Licence course.

“There’ll be bragging rights to play for,” commented Heary, who underlined his respect for what Horgan has achieved so far with victories over Dundalk in the Louth Cup and in the league.

“The two lads up front, Gary O’Neill and Fabio O’Brien, are a big threat,” said Heary, adding his admiration for O’Neill on his recovery from serious illness. “He’s a positive fellow and that stood to him.”

Heary is hoping Friday’s opponents might be “a bit leggy”, having played 120 minutes in the EA Sports Cup against Crumlin United on Monday. “But they’re a well-organised side and they have a big back four. We know it’s going to be a physical game,” he said.

The Bohemian manager insists that his team’s approach to Friday’s game will be similar to that adopted against Bray and UCD. “We don’t want the players going into this thinking at all negatively. We want them to be just as positive as against Bray and UCD,” he said.

“It’s our first home game and we want to give a good account of ourselves and get the crowd behind us. If the performance matches what we’ve done over the last couple of weeks, the people will keep coming and they’ll enjoy the matches.

“Drogheda winning last week is a good incentive to us to go at them, and take the game to them. We’ve shown we can limit our opponents’ scoring chances, and we are creating chances ourselves. We’re getting into the box, we’re getting crosses in, we’re getting goals and we aim to continue that.”

Jason Byrne came off the bench last Friday and scored within minutes for his second late goal in two games. He started Monday’s game and again scored, making it three goals in three games. According to his manager, he is “still getting his fitness levels up and getting his touch in, but he is a lot fitter than last year and the hunger’s still there”.

Defender Anto Murphy (hamstring) has returned to training but will not be ready for selection. Karl Moore (groin), Andy Mulligan (quad) and Lee Whelan (ankle) are out, while captain Dave Mulcahy (knee) faces a late fitness test.

STRENGTH IN NUMBERS

UCD v BOHEMIANS
Monday March 10, EA Sports Cup, Belfield Bowl, 7.45pm

Owen Heary believes he could make as many as ‘eight or nine change’ for tonight’s rematch against UCD in the EA Sports Cup without it affecting the quality and determination of his team, writes LUKE O’RIORDAN.

When these sides met in the league at the same venue on Friday night, Bohemians hit the woodwork twice in the first half before cruising to an impressive 3-0 victory with goals from Paddy Kavanagh, Dinny Corcoran and Jason Byrne.

Friday’s starting XI had just one change to the side that swept aside Bray Wanderers 5-1 in the Leinster Senior Cup eight days earlier, with a quad injury seeing Andy Mulligan make way for Karl Moore. Mulligan remains unavailable tonight, while Anto Murphy is still struggling with a hamstring injury.

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But Heary has hinted that he could ring the changes and give others a chance to stake their claim ahead of Friday’s home league clash against Drogheda United, saying: “We’ve a talented squad here this season. I could make eight or nine changes and no matter who we bring in, they’ll be good enough and will give it their all for the jersey.”

After such a comprehensive victory against the Students just three days ago, the Gypsies could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas tonight. But Heary doesn’t anticipate any such issue and said: “There won’t be any problem with motivation.

“The lads don’t need me to fire them up for a game like this – it’s a cup game, they all know they have to win it if they want to get closer to winning some silverware.”

The confident attacking style of play and quality of the goals scored on Friday earned his side great plaudits, but Heary is quick to praise the performances further back the pitch.

He said: “The goals were fantastic. Paddy’s was a cracker, Dinny’s was too and Jay’s only on the pitch a few minutes before getting on the scoresheet. But one of the most pleasing aspects for me was the clean sheet. The whole back five were fantastic.

“We were unlucky not to keep a clean sheet against Bray too. But for a penalty, we would have. We have to be strong at the back, so I’m delighted with how they’ve done so far.”

Pic: Jack Memery, Dave Mulcahy and Roberto Lopes keep their eyes on the ball (Eddie Lennon, www.eddielennonsportingimages.com).

EXCITEMENT AND NERVES AHEAD OF NEW TERM

UCD v BOHEMIANS
(Friday March 7, SSE Airtricity League, Belfield Bowl, 7.45pm
& Monday March 10, EA Sports Cup, Belfield Bowl, 7.45pm)

Bohemians start their league campaign against UCD with manager Owen Heary feeling both “excitement” and “nerves” about his team’s prospects for the season.

“There’s excitement at having got the players in that I was looking for,” Heary said. “But as we come to the start of the season there’s also nerves and there’s pressure on me as manager.

“Expectations are rising because of the players we’ve signed and sometimes you have to curb those expectations not to put too much pressure on the players.”

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HEARY GO AGAIN

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS (Tonight, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Bohemians finally get their competitive season up and running when they host Bray Wanderers in tonight’s rescheduled Leinster Senior Cup tie and manager Owen Heary wants his side to start the campaign as they mean to go on.

Handed the reins by then boss Pat Fenlon for the Gypsies’ Leinster Senior Cup games in 2011, Heary led Bohs – made up almost entirely of players from his Under-19 side – to victories against a Shamrock Rovers team laden down by league winners and Shelbourne before falling short in the final against St Pat’s.

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He is determined to go one better this year, starting with victory against Bray. He said: “People might say, ‘ah it’s the Leinster Senior Cup, it’s only a Mickey Mouse trophy,’ but a trophy is a trophy. We want to go through tonight and we want to go on and win the competition.”

The game was originally due to take place on Saturday February 15 but was postponed to protect the Dalymount pitch from heavy rain. Heary was keen to get the game rescheduled before next week’s league opener away to UCD and said: “We wanted a game on grass. Our last two games were on synthetic surfaces, so we really needed to get the lads a game on a proper surface before the league starts.”

Despite pre-season being hampered by bad weather earlier this month, Heary reckons his players are back up to speed after games against Tolka Rovers and Shelbourne last week.

Bohs beat Tolka 2-1 at IT Blanchardstown 10 days ago but Shels frustrated the Gypsies to earn a deserved 1-1 draw at Scribblestown last Friday.

Heary said: “The Shels game in particular was a very good test for us. For the first 10 or 15 minutes, we barely got near the ball. Shels played at a high tempo and it’s good for our players at this stage of the season to be able to get back into the habit of knowing how to react to that kind of situation. It makes them stronger and makes them increase their own tempo. Hopefully we’ll have more of the same tonight.”

Anto Murphy (hamstring) is the only absentee for tonight’s game, with Heary adding: “It’s not a tear or anything, it’s just a strain but we don’t want to risk him.”

General admission: €10. Members: €5. Students/children/senior citizens: €5.

 

LEINSTER SENIOR CUP TIE POSTPONED

Saturday’s Leinster Senior Cup tie against Bray Wanderers has been called off.
Website by Simon Alcock