“The magnitude of the game speaks for itself”

SHAMROCK ROVERS v BOHEMIANS (Friday May 17th, Tallaght Stadium, 7.05pm)

Bohemians go to Tallaght determined to turn good performances into matching results. They also go with confidence drawn from a victory in the last derby at Shamrock Rovers’ home ground, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Manager Aaron Callaghan is sure his side can clock up points again after two narrow defeats. “For three-quarters of those games we’ve had good performances and, if the performances are good, things will change around,” he said.

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“I thought we were the better side against Cork for most of the match. Tommy Dunne [Cork City manager] said to me after the match they had got out of jail.

“Against UCD one or two contentious decisions swung the match. Those games turned on slight errors.”

Motivating the players has not been an issue but a derby match against Shamrock Rovers represents a particular challenge. “The magnitude of the game speaks for itself, given the past encounters between the sides. But I don’t do the history side of things. Every game is taken on its merits,” said Callaghan.

“Shamrock Rovers have shown what they can achieve when they’re on form. If we’re not 100 per cent on the night it’s going to be very difficult.”

Bohemians’ 1-0 win in Tallaght last September marked 19-year-old Greg Murray’s second league appearance in goal for Bohemians and, on Friday, he is likely to make his first league start this season. Dean Delany’s groin injury will probably rule him out after 13 successive league starts.

This is one of several enforced changes to the Bohemian line-up, as striker Chris Lyons and defender Roberto Lopes, both of them central to the team’s endeavours this season, are suspended.

The 3-5-2 formation used in recent games is likely to be set aside and Callaghan will consider the claims of Dwayne Wilson, Kevin Devaney and Dave Scully to start up-front or in a position just off the furthest forward.

Lopes was rested against Cork City after starting all 12 league games in the season up to that. “I knew the suspension was coming and the rest won’t do him any harm,” said his manager.

Looking forward to next Monday’s EA Sports Cup match at home to Bray Wanderers, Callaghan insisted that “the plan for the season was to win a trophy and this is a trophy we could win”.

“If you get the right draws and right results you find yourself all of a sudden in a semi-final. It’s a very important game from the club’s perspective,” he added.

The manager expects “to rotate one or two players” but is hoping that there are no injuries coming out of Friday’s match that require more changes than that.

“we’ve got to get back on the bike and kick on”

 BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY (Friday, May 10th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Following a trio of difficult away games, Bohemians return to Airtricity League action this Friday against the team directly above them in the table, Cork City. After two well-earned points against St Patrick’s Athletic and Drogheda United, Bohs succumbed to a single-goal defeat to UCD on Tuesday.

Boss Aaron Callaghan felt his side performed poorly in the first half of that game, but were on the wrong end of two refereeing decisions in the second period.

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“I thought we were very poor first half, we stood off UCD and allowed them to dictate the play. But second half I thought we were the better side, and we definitely had a couple of decisions go against us. I did have a chat with the referee after the game, and he said he didn’t see the penalty incident.”

Callaghan was pleased with the fact that referee Padraigh Sutton was open enough to talk to the Gypsies’ boss about the incidents, which also included a disallowed Kevin Devaney goal. “I had a good chat with Padraigh after the game, and it was the first time in a long time that a referee has allowed me to come in and talk to them. I think that the communication process with the referees has to improve. When you can go in and chat about a few of the incidents and they explain why they gave a particular call, it’s much more open and satisfying for me. I can air a few opinions and we can move on”.

Callaghan also called on the Gypsies’ players to keep their discipline after Keith Buckley’s late red card against the Students. “Discipline is important at any stage of the season. It’s something we stress to the lads prior to every game, you’ve got to keep your heads in certain situations. It’s hard to take some of the decisions but, in fairness to the referees, they don’t go out there to intentionally make those decisions.”

Looking ahead to Cork City on Friday, Callaghan is peering up the table rather than down — the Leesiders are just a point ahead of Bohs in the Premier Division. “They’ve assembled quite a decent squad but a couple of results have gone against them, they’ve conceded late goals here and there. We know if we win the game we go above them, which is a great incentive for the players. It was disappointing that our run came to an end, but we’ve got to get back on the bike and kick on.”

The Bohs boss also went into detail about the 3-5-2 formation implemented in the last few games, and the attacking threat that the system gives. “The thinking behind it is to create more opportunities, which I think it does. We scored three times against Bray, twice at Drogheda, and once away to St Pat’s by playing the system. What it does is throw more men forward. As with every attacking system, it does leave gaps, but we’ve been working on ways to counter-act that. The idea was to get more goals, and if we win games 3-2 I’ll be quite happy. Not only does it entertain the fans, but we can also hopefully get the three points.”

For Friday’s game Bohs will be without the suspended Keith Buckley but have no serious injury concerns. Captain Owen Heary returned to the starting line-up on Tuesday after a long lay-off, while Stephen Traynor was back on the bench following a surgical procedure.

“WE’VE SHOWN REAL CHARACTER”

UCD v BOHEMIANS (Tuesday May 7th, UCD Bowl, KO 7.45pm)

Bohemians play their third successive away match in eight days when they go UCD on Tuesday.

They come to this game after securing hard-fought draws on the road against St Patrick’s Athletic and Drogheda United.

“The way the lads fought back [against Drogheda] shows how much they care. The result was a reward for the effort they put in,” said Bohemian manager Aaron Callaghan.

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“Coming back from goals behind two games in a row shows real character,” Callaghan added.

Owen Heary, who made it to the bench last Friday after a month on the sidelines with a knee injury, looks set to return to action. Stephen Traynor is also available after a long lay-off. Derek Pender will have a late fitness test for a strain.

“We will have to prepare really well for UCD. They beat Shamrock Rovers at home. They are performing well and their fitness levels are always good,” said Callaghan.

The Bohemian manager returns to one of his former clubs with a squad that includes recent UCD players Ciaran Nangle and Chris Lyons, who celebrates his 20th birthday on Wednesday.

In the last 12 league meetings between the sides, UCD have won only once. However, last February they defeated Bohemians in the Leinster Senior Cup through a Ciaran Nangle own goal in the last minute of extra time.

In March, Chris Lyons scored penalties in successive games when Bohs avenged that defeat with two victories in three days over UCD in the league and in the EA Sports Cup.

“THE LADS HAVE WORKED THEIR SOCKS OFF”

DROGHEDA UNITED v BOHEMIANS (Friday May 3rd, Hunky Dorys Park, KO 7.45pm)

Bohemians complete the first cycle of league games on Friday, playing away to Drogheda United who are undefeated since the first match of the season.

But despite perceptions of the two sides as far apart, Bohemians’ four points from their last two games means that victory on Friday would put them within a point of Mick Cooke’s side, Bohs manager Aaron Callaghan points out.

Monday’s gritty draw against St Patrick’s Athletic has set up Bohemians very well for the trip to Hunky Dorys Park. “I always knew there was that character in the team. Just because one or two results didn’t go the way you wanted didn’t stop us believing in the lads, who have worked their socks off in training,” said Callaghan.

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“With so many changes, and so many younger players coming in, I was over the moon to get that result”.

With four of the most experienced players unable to play, even more responsibility than usual fell on Dave Mulcahy and goalkeeper Dean Delany. The No. 1 was, in Callaghan’s view, “exceptional, making three or four fantastic saves towards the end” and Mulcahy’s was rated by his manager as “one of the best individual performances I have seen in the league”.

Bohemians are well aware that Drogheda United have proven very difficult to beat. Last season, Bohemians had one draw and three defeats in league and league cup encounters with the Drogs. Just a month after Friday’s match, Bohs face Drogheda again in the FAI Cup.

“We’ve got to respect them and we’ll do our usual analysis on how they are playing but we have to concentrate on our own performance and on our shape,” said Callaghan.

“We’re getting more players forward, which has certainly helped us. We looked dangerous on the break against Pat’s. As much as they had chances to win it, we definitely had one or two chances to nick it.”

Bohemians secured their point last Monday with 19-year-old Conor O’Brien making his league debut, and 19-year-olds Andy Mulligan and Michael Barker starting for just the second time.

Callaghan has now started 22 players from his squad and it is likely he will have to draw on more, as Stephen Paisley has left the squad due to work commitments outside football and Darragh Hanaphy is on a temporary break also due to work commitments.

With Paisley off the payroll, Aaron Callaghan has some flexibility in his modest budget and is looking to bring in a striker.

For Friday, Owen Heary (knee) remains sidelined, while Derek Pender (bruised ribs) and Dave Scully (hamstring) face late fitness tests before Friday’s game.

At the other end of the age spectrum, 17-year-old Adam Kelly is now training with the senior squad. He joins defender Michael Scott, just turned 19, who has taken the squad number 23 vacated by the departing Niall Forrester.

CALLAGHAN: WE’RE GOING OVER THERE CONFIDENT

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS (Monday April 29th, KO 7.45pm)

Bohemians play their rescheduled match against St Patrick’s Athletic boosted by a home win in difficult conditions against Bray Wanderers on Friday.

“We’re going over there more confident as result of that win,” said manager Aaron Callaghan. “But Pat’s are also in better form than when we were due to meet them last month.”

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Callaghan had wanted his players to “put in a shift” and “give the fans something to shout about” on Friday. He changed the system to put more players up front, with three at the back.

“This left us a bit vulnerable at times. We were open to counter-attack and Bray tried to take advantage of that. But the lads did well and I certainly can’t fault them for effort.”

Callaghan was pleased with the performances of Bohs debutant Shane Fitzgerald and of lively winger Andy Mulligan, who made his first league appearance after an intensive campaign of college football.

But the schedule of two games a week is taking its toll on the squad. Callaghan will not have time to prepare fully for the challenge of an away Dublin derby and his selection choices are narrowing.

Several players have picked up injuries and will face late fitness tests. Derek Pender (calf) and Dave Scully (hamstring), who were crucial to Bohs’ efforts on Friday, are among the doubtful starters.

Stephen Paisley (knee), Conor O’Brien (ankle) have joined Owen Heary (knee) on the injury list.

The Bohemian manager expects St Patrick’s Athletic to improve this season on last year’s achievements. “They have a good squad, they’re on a good run and they have shown they can contend for the title,” he said of his former club.

Ex-Pat’s man Dave Mulcahy returned to Friday’s squad after illness and showed all the value of his experience when Bohs had their backs against the wall late in Friday’s game. His strength and guile will be required again on Monday, particularly in the possible absence of Heary, Paisley and Pender.

Eight of the last nine league games between Bohemians and Pats have been drawn or decided by a single goal either way.

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