“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.”

“YOU HAVE TO BE MORE GUNG-HO IN A CUP MATCH”

BOHEMIANS v DROGHEDA UTD (Friday May 31st, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Bohemians will have to be assertive against Drogheda, as they look to take advantage of the “one-off” nature of the cup tie, according to manager Aaron Callaghan.

Playing in their third competition in three matches Bohemians will seek to confirm the battling form shown in their 4-2 league cup win last week.

“You have to be a bit more gung-ho in your tactics for a cup match, because if you lose you’re out,” said Callaghan.

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“Sometimes in a league game you’re happy enough to get a single point out of it. But we want to win this one, particularly as it’s on our home turf.”

The Bohemian manager admitted he would prefer to be playing a league game following last week’s defeat. “It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, and we’re waiting two weeks to put things right. But this is another competition we’re hoping to do well in.

“It’s a tough ask as this is one of only two all-Premier Division ties in the round. The cup draw hasn’t been kind to either Drogheda or ourselves and it’s going to be difficult for both of us.”

Despite his team slipping down the league table, Callaghan insists they go into the cup tie confident. “I’m always confident going into a match, even when performances may not have matched the standards we set for ourselves,” he said.

“We had a good result against them up in Drogheda [2-2, four weeks ago]. They have had some problems with consistency themselves. They had a heavy defeat in the Setanta Cup final and they seem to be conceding more goals than they did last year.

“It’s probably going to be an open game and you’ll see goals. We just hope we get more than they do.”

The most recent cup encounter between the sides was in the EA Sports Cup last season (10 April 2012). That game was level, 1-1, after extra time and went to penalties, Drogheda winning the shoot-out.

For Friday, Bohs are without Dave Scully, suspended for one match with four yellow cards. Owen Heary remains out with a hip injury, though he has returned to training and may be fit for Bohemians’ next league match.

The absence of Scully and Heary, following the recent departure of Stephen Paisley, means Bohemians are short on bigger, stronger players.

“Drogheda are a strong, physical side and we may be a bit lightweight. To be missing Dave’s height and his battling qualities is disappointing,” said Callaghan.

Roberto Lopes, Luke Byrne and Chris Lyons have returned to the squad after training with the Ireland under-21s. Callaghan is delighted with the opportunity these young players have had, “and it shows we must be doing something right when we supplied three of the 22 players in the squad”.

“Those results give us confidence and self-belief”

BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC (Friday May 24th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Bohemians host in-form St Patrick’s Athletic boosted by an injury-time draw in their last league game and an extra-time win on Monday in the EA Sports Cup, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

But manager Aaron Callaghan insists his team will have to be at its best to get a result from Friday’s clash with second-in-the-table Pat’s.

“Those last two results give us added confidence and self-belief,” said Callaghan. “But the mood in the squad was always good, even when we had to deal with difficult defeats, games that we felt we deserved a lot more from.”

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Last Friday’s late equaliser against Shamrock Rovers represented just reward for the players’ efforts, added Callaghan. “That was probably our best performance of the season. We passed the ball well and we had a great confidence and energy about us.”

Ryan McEvoy’s equaliser also cancelled out a deficit due to “as bad a referee’s decision as I’ve seen anywhere in the game”, according to the Bohemian manager.

“To come back from that and get a goal in injury time was brilliant. But it would have been one hell of an injustice if we hadn’t got something from that game.”

Friday’s match will be Bohemians’ second league game against St Patrick’s Athletic in less than a month. “We went over to them a few weeks back and we had a good performance. They’re a very good side and it will be a difficult game in Dalymount. We will have to be at our best to get a result,” said Callaghan.

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

Captain Owen Heary (hip) and Conor O’Brien (illness) are out, as is Keith Buckley who serves out the second game of his two-match suspension.

Callaghan made eight changes from last Friday to Monday. “You take a big risk when you do that but you’ve got to give these guys game-time because you will need them before the end of the season.”

Against Shamrock Rovers he put on 19-year-old defender Michael Scott for his first league appearance, placing him up-front in the hope of taking advantage of his height and he was on the field when the equaliser was scored.

Callaghan’s faith in the other less-tested players was rewarded on Monday, as was his entrusting of the captaincy to Luke Byrne, the third 19-year-old to lead Bohemians’ senior team in the last three years.

“I saw leadership qualities in Luke the first week I trained with him. Asking him to skipper the side is just reward for Luke’s attitude, effort and dedication.”

“THIS IS A TROPHY WE COULD WIN”

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS (Monday May 21st, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Buoyed by Friday’s injury-time equaliser against Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght, Bohemians are in EA Sports Cup action on Monday as Bray Wanderers, also on a high from Friday having secured their first away win over Cork City in 26 years, come to Dalymount Park.

Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan said: “The plan for the season was to win a trophy and this is a trophy we could win.

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“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.

Looking back to Friday’s Dublin derby, Callaghan believes a draw was the least his side deserved having proved more than a match for their more illustrious opponents for large periods of the game.

Callaghan added:  “It’s chalk and cheese in terms of the personnel at the moment. We put it up to them on Friday and we fully deserved our point if not the three.

“The group that we work with, every day in training they work their socks off. Their attitude for the cause has been absolutely superb all season.

“We’ve had some tough games and we’re still a work in progress. I keep telling people I’m not trying to build a team, I’m trying to build a club and you can’t build a club overnight.

“It takes a bit of time to develop those young kids. But they’re growing in stature. Lukey Byrne I thought was absolutely brilliant on Friday alongside Dave Mulcahy, who got man of the match. You could have given it to five or six of our lads.

“Michael Scott came on for his debut. You could see the difference with what Rovers were bringing off the bench.”

With a congested fixture list, Callaghan expects “to rotate one or two players”  and his squad is boosted by the return of defender Roberto Lyons and striker Chris Lyons, who both missed Friday’s game through suspension.

But Keith Buckley – one of the star performers in Tallaght – misses out as he serves the first of a two-match ban having been sent off in last week’s 1-0 defeat against UCD.

NOTE: Members can attend this game for the reduced price of €5.

“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.

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