COSTLY MISTAKES OVERSHADOW POSITIVE PERFORMANCE

BOHEMIANS v SLIGO ROVERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Monday 21 April, 3pm

Bohemians are looking to halt a slump of two defeats in a row when they host Sligo Rovers on Easter Monday. A poor performance at home to Limerick nine days ago was followed up with a much improved display away to the champions St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday evening, yet yielded the same result.

Manager Owen Heary bemoaned his players’ costly mistakes but found some positives too. He said: “I was happier that we played a lot better against St Pat’s than we had in some of the previous few games. We created chances, which we hadn’t done against Limerick.

“But Pat’s are a very experienced side throughout compared to the team we had out. They will let you play football the right way but they’ll also punish you if you make mistakes and that’s what happened.

“It was a fantastic goal from Jason Byrne to give us the lead but we only managed to hold on to the lead for four minutes and that’s really not good enough.

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“We work hard all week on trying to eradicate individual mistakes from our game, so it’s frustrating when it happens again. They’re not small mistakes. They’re big ones if they’re costing us goals and results.”

The fixture list hasn’t helped Bohs’ bid to get more points on the board but Heary has challenged his players to step up and prove their worth.

He said: “You could say we’re unfortunate in that we’re playing three of the best sides in the league – Pat’s, Sligo and Cork – in a row but that’s what the players should want. They should be wanting to go out and play against the best in the league – to push themselves, to better themselves and test themselves against the very best.

“We all knew Sligo were going to come good eventually and they’ve shown that in their last few games where they’ve scored goals for fun against St Pat’s and UCD and got a good draw away to Cork in between. We know we’re up against one of the best teams around.”

Heary admitted the return of club captain Dave Mulcahy, who played the full 90 minutes on Friday in what was his first appearance since the opening day of the league season after knee and calf injuries, was a “massive plus” but he is set to tinker with his line-up again as there are “a lot of tired bodies”.

“We did very well to get 90 minutes out of Jason too,” he added. “We would have liked to have taken him off after around 70 minutes but with Dinny Corcoran out, Jay was the best person to get us back into the game so we had to leave him on. But there were a lot of tired bodies on Friday and you don’t want to be flogging players, so we will change things around in certain areas.”

Heary’s options are limited by the continued absence of Corcoran, who will have a scan on his knee injury on Tuesday, as well as Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Jack Memery (knee). Goalkeeper Dean Delany returns to the squad after serving his additional one-match ban for the red card he received against Bray Wanderers earlier this month.

“THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT”

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
Friday April 18, SSE Airtricity League, Richmond Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians go to Inchicore aiming to protect an unbeaten record in away games. Both of Bohs’ victories in the league have come on the road, and they have also secured a draw against league-leaders Dundalk on their travels, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Friday’s game against St Patrick’s Athletic is one of a packed schedule of six matches in 18 days against the top sides in three competitions. But “this is what it’s all about”, according to Bohemian manager Owen Heary.

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“These will be difficult games. The squad will be tested, as some of the players aren’t used to playing game after game after game. But we have to get them into the right mindset.”

Of the last six league games Bohemians have played at Inchicore, three have been draws and Bohs have won one.

“Pat’s have a quality squad and they know better than anyone that they have not played to their potential,” said Heary. “For us, it’s a bit like we were against Dundalk. We need to be positive when we have the ball and tight when we don’t have it.”

Heary expects a more entertaining game than the grim encounter with Limerick last week. “The two teams like to play football. It will, hopefully, be not too open a game. But the two teams like to get on the ball and pass it.”

Bohemian skipper (and ex-Pats player) Dave Mulcahy is expected to make his first appearance of the league season following calf and knee injuries but defender Anto Murphy (hamstring) remains out “for another three or four weeks”.

Goalkeeper Dean Delany is suspended, completing his two-match ban on Friday, and Dinny Corcoran is sidelined with a knock to the knee, but may make it back for Monday’s home game against Sligo.

Veteran striker Jason Byrne looks likely to start, as he did against Dundalk and Athlone Town. “He’s a smashing player, and he knows where the goal is. But we have other options as well, so I’m not too worried about it,” said Heary.

Last week’s defeat at home to Limerick was frustrating for the squad to review, the manager said. “It’s the first time we haven’t created an awful lot of chances. In the last third of the pitch we just weren’t creating enough.

“Maybe there was a bit of nervousness too, knowing we haven’t won at Dalymount. But then you look at Stephen Traynor’s shot. It’s going in and it hits a bobble and goes wide.

“Limerick didn’t create chances either. It was the second phase of play from their corner, some of our lads lose their man, and they score. ”

Heary has been getting the players focused on the next game, even though they were “gutted”.

“That’s a game we should have seen out for a nil-all draw, at worst. I know we’re a better team than that.”

“A HOME VICTORY WOULD BE GOOD FOR US ALL”

BOHEMIANS v LIMERICK
Friday April 11, SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians are looking to secure seven points in eight days as they welcome Limerick to Dalymount on Friday, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

With a hard-won point from last week’s home match and a more comfortable three-point trip to Athlone, Bohemians will be “happy with seven points from nine – that will be a massive week for us”, according to manager Owen Heary.

Limerick have yet to win this season but they had a 100 per cent record in three league matches against Bohemians last year.

“They have to get a win some time, but hopefully not on Friday. It was the same against Athlone. They are going to pick up points some time. But we went down and did a professional job,” said Heary.

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“Limerick work hard, they’re good on the ball and they’re capable of getting points off a lot of teams. They have had a week’s rest, so we have to have players who are fresh and ready for the game, and fully focused on getting the three points.”

Limerick recently drew against the title-holders, St Patrick’s Athletic, Heary noted. “They’re getting their full squad back and they’re not conceding many goals. They’re a big threat from set-pieces with a couple of dead-ball specialists, so it’s important that we don’t give away too many free kicks around the box.”

For Friday, Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Jack Memery (knee) are absent. Club captain Dave Mulcahy has returned to full training following a knee injury and is likely to make the matchday squad. “Dave coming back is important for us and we’ll certainly need him with a game against the champions coming up,” said Heary.

Dan Byrne and Darragh Reynor are among those who made their first league starts of this season in the last fortnight and made strong claims to keep their places.

“Darragh has a great left foot, and is good in set-pieces, and that’s been valuable in the last games. It’s not an ideal position for him to play but he’s gone in there and done a job,” commented his manager.

“Against Dundalk, Dano [Byrne] did the job of protecting the back four brilliantly, against Bray he helped pushed us forward and against Athlone he scored a goal. He reads the game very well and he’s earned his place.”

Goalkeeper Lee Murphy was called into action in difficult circumstances last Friday, after Dean Delany’s sending-off, and acquitted himself well. “Lee’s a big lad and big presence. He and Dean are pushing each other on,” said Heary. Delany has served his automatic suspension and has a further one-match suspension to serve next week. But Heary has a choice to make for Friday between the two ex-Shels keepers.

Overall, Heary reckons his team is “playing well, even if we didn’t get some results we should have. There’s a positive vibe throughout the club and in the team. I think the fans are enjoying how the team is playing. A home victory would be very good for all of us, and would set a tone for the next few weeks.”

“It’s a problem – people think there are easy games”

ATHLONE TOWN v BOHEMIANS
Monday April 7, SSE Airtricity League, Athlone Town Stadium, 7.45pm

Bohemian manager Owen Heary has warned against underestimating Premier Division new boys Athlone Town when the sides meet at Lissywoollen on Monday.

Mick Cooke’s side are propping up the table after losing all of their opening five games, but Heary pointed to their improved performance in Friday’s 3-2 defeat against high-flying Drogheda United and said: “They may be bottom but they really put it up to Drogheda, who are right up there at the moment.

“They’re new to the division, they’ve a new manager and they’ve a lot of new players. But they are improving. It’s always a problem, that people think there are easy games. It’s my job to make sure the players don’t think like that.”

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While Bohs went into Friday’s game against Bray Wanderers looking for a win, Heary was pleased by the second-half performance of his 10 men as they battled back to secure a late point through Dinny Corcoran.

Dean Delany’s foul on Jake Kelly after 20 minutes left the Gypsies both a man down and a goal down as referee Sean Grant pointed to the spot and gave the goalkeeper his marching orders. Bray midfielder Kelly was carried off on a stretcher with a fractured ankle, while Graham Kelly beat replacement netminder Lee Murphy with the resultant penalty.

Bohs were slow to respond in the first half, but returned after the break with a renewed sense of purpose. Heary said: “We came out with a game-plan for the second half. It’s difficult with 10 men but we knew if we kept our concentration, kept the ball and stayed in the game that with 15 minutes to go, we could bring on Jay Byrne, go three at the back and go for it. Thankfully Dinny Corcoran got the goal we deserved and that at least got us a point.”

Heary was critical of referee Grant’s decision to send off Delany as he believed “Derek Pender was behind Deano when the foul was committed and had the situation covered, so it wasn’t a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

“It looked like the referee was reaching for a yellow before the Bray players got involved,” he added. Heary also questioned the consistency of some other decisions and queried bookings handed out to Steven Beattie, Dan Byrne and even Bray’s Ismahil Akinade.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “There was a lot of time-wasting – Bray players were kicking the ball away when we were awarded throw-ins and nothing was done about it. Yet then you’ve players being yellow-carded for nothing.

“There’s a lack of consistency there and it can be frustrating for managers. Refereeing decisions have cost us in recent weeks. You look back to the Rovers game when they were awarded a penalty when we should have had a throw-in and then Dinny had a perfectly good goal ruled out. Referees can look back and go ‘I made a mistake’, but decisions are affecting results and affecting game-plans.”

Heary wished Jake Kelly a speeding recovery from his injury, adding: “It was just unfortunate, he seemed to twist his knee when he went in. It’s awful for such a young player and it looks like he could be out for a while.”

For Monday’s trip, Bohs are once again without Dave Mulcahy (knee), who has returned to training, and Anto Murphy (hamstring), while Delany will serve his one-match ban for Friday’s dismissal. Heary hopes to have a full squad to choose from on Friday when Limerick come to Dalymount Park.

BOHS READY TO MAKE MORE CHANGES

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS
Friday April 4, SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians will be testing the full depth of their squad as they begin a series of three games in eight days with a home match against Bray Wanderers, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Bohs made five changes for last weekend’s trip to Dundalk and are likely to make more changes for each of the next three matches.

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Having reviewed the performance of their more defensive line-up in Oriel Park, Bohemians consider they gained “a good point and probably a deserved point”, according to assistant manager Graham O’Hanlon. “Dundalk are a very good team with very good movement. But we did create chances on the night.”

The performance and result also showed that Bohemians have depth in the squad, as those who came in acquitted themselves well, O’Hanlon added.

He has deputised for manager Owen Heary in his absence on a Switzerland-based module of his Pro Licence course. But Heary will be back in the dug-out for Friday’s game.

O’Hanlon insists Bohemians will not take Bray or any other team lightly. “Bray are a dangerous team and can cause us problems. They have good players up-front. Again, we need look at our system, and look at our players and make sure we are well set-up defensively,” he said.

“The lads are under no illusion: this is going to be a very tough game, and it’s a very important game as we go into an important period of the season, when we need absolutely to pick up as many points as possible.”

The 5-1 victory over Bray six weeks ago in the Leinster Senior Cup is not an accurate reflection of the two teams’ status, O’Hanlon added. “Alan [Mathews] and Barry [O’Connor] were just settling in and putting their stamp on the team. And since then Bray have beaten Sligo 1-0. That just shows you what they are capable of.”

Former Bray warrior Jason Byrne may well start against his old club, having been out of the starting line-up in the league up to last weekend. “He did excellently against Dundalk. He’s been unlucky not to be starting but it was Dinny[Corcoran]’s good form that kept him out. Over these next three games I fully expect to see Jason playing his part,” said O’Hanlon.

The competition for places has heated up elsewhere, as Daniel Byrne worked effectively to “snuff out danger” playing in front of the back four and Darragh Reynor applied his experience, strength and dead-ball skills, coming in for Jack Memery.

“Jack may benefit from a little time away. He’ll come back stronger from that because he is a good player,” noted O’Hanlon.

Keith Buckley returned to the starting line-up against Dundalk to put in his usual energetic and combative performance. “He never lets his player settle on the ball and he sets the bar for others in work-rate, as he goes around closing people down.”

Dave Mulcahy (knee) came into the season carrying an injury but he has returned to light training. He is not expected to be ready for Friday but may well feature in one or both of next week’s matches. Andy Mulligan has returned from quad injury to full training, but Anto Murphy (hamstring) remains out.

Bohemians may have all but one of their squad available for selection next week and Mulcahy will be especially welcomed back, according to O’Hanlon. “He is a key player for us. He sets the benchmark for others on the pitch and he’s very good in the dressing-room too. We want him back as quickly as possible.”

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