“THE FANS CAN GIVE US THAT EXTRA LIFT”

SHELBOURNE v BOHEMIANS (Tolka Park, Friday September 20th, 8pm)

Bohemians meet nearest-neighbours Shelbourne in a match that could have a big bearing on both clubs’ efforts to avoid relegation.

But Bohemian assistant manager Owen Heary is keen to play down notions that Friday’s game is the ultimate decider.

“There are still 18 points to play for. This is a big game but it’s no different from the games of last week, the week before or next week,” he said. “It’s not the be-all and end-all for either team, win, lose or draw. But we’ll certainly be closer to our goal of staying up if we win.”

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Heary sees it as his responsibility to keep his players “doing what they have done for the last few weeks” when the team kept their composure in big games and performed well.

He expects Shelbourne to come to Friday’s match very determined to recover the winning form of July and to put last week’s cup defeat against Dundalk behind them. “You can’t read too much into that cup result. They have good players and a good manager. We’re expecting them to be looking to bounce back,” said Heary.

Bohemians have found many positives to take from their loss two weeks ago to Sligo Rovers when they created as many scoring opportunities as in any game this season and earned the praise of Sligo’s management team.

The fans also saluted Bohemians’ efforts that night and Heary expects the fans to be a big factor in Friday’s clash with Shelbourne.

“The relationship between the clubs is friendly rivalry, with a good deal of banter, and no aggression,” he said. “If our fans do as they did in Inchicore and in Tallaght and really get behind the lads they can give them a lift. There is no better feeling for a player than when the fans are roaring you on. That can help you produce that extra couple of per cent.”

Heary has strong affiliations still with Shelbourne, where he played for nine years before joining Bohemians. “I am very fond of the people there, who work very hard behind the scenes. I’d be gutted if either club went down. This is not being disrespectful to any other club but this league definitely needs both Bohs and Shels.”

Heary’s illustrious spell at Shelbourne might not have happened if Bohemians had moved more quickly to sign him 16 years ago. He was “always a Bohs man” but had committed to Shels by the time his preferred club made an offer.

The honours are even between the sides in this year’s league encounters: Bohemians won in Tolka Park in April but lost at home in June.

For Friday Bohemians have a full squad to choose from. The two-week break since the last league match has helped some players with “niggling injuries” to recover fully. The most recent signing Neil Yadolahi has trained to full match fitness and is available for selection.

Bohemians go into the last six games of the season with a new management team. Bobby Browne has joined the club as first-team manager on a short-term arrangement. Browne managed Monaghan United and Drogheda United in the past, and most recently was with Drumcondra FC.

“WE’RE NOT OUT OF THE WOODS, WE HAVE TO KEEP WORKING”

BOHEMIANS v SLIGO ROVERS (Saturday September 7th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians face the league champions on Saturday looking to match their season-best run of three matches unbeaten.

Depending on results elsewhere, a draw or win on Saturday could widen the gap between Bohs and the two teams below them in the league table.

“We need to focus on what we’re doing and not worry about other results. We’ve done that in the last couple of weeks and it will be no different when we face Sligo,” said manager Owen Heary.

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During a lean spell for Bohemians in the league they drew 0-0 in the Showgrounds in June, making up at least in part for the 3-0 defeat at home to the same opponents in March.

“Sligo are still the champions and they will be coming here with the bit between their teeth. They know they have to win to maintain their challenge,” said Heary.

“If the lads give as good an account of themselves as they did in the last two matches I can see us coming away with something.

“It’s another tough game for us, and then we have another even bigger one in two weeks’ time against Shelbourne.”

Approaching the end of his permitted tenure as caretaker manager, Heary has guided Bohemians to two wins and two draws in six league games.

“I’m happy with the way things have gone. Before I took over we had gone 11 league games without a win,” he said. “To get points against some of the teams we have got them against is very pleasing. But we’re not out of the woods yet. We’ve got to keep working hard at what we’re doing.”

Heary admits his players struggled to get to terms with the St Patrick’s midfield in the first half of last weekend’s match. Daniel Byrne who had impressed on his full debut in the previous game was missing the guidance of suspended Dave Mulcahy, Heary felt.

“We decided we had to try and match them [St Patrick’s] man-for-man and stop them getting forward. We talked to [Keith] Buckley and [Stephen] Traynor at half-time and they did the business. They’re not much older than the lads they replaced but they have been playing in the league for four years,” said Heary.

“Not many teams have gone over there and got a point off them and we’ve done it twice this year. Pat’s could have been out of sight in the first half but in the second half we got to grips with them and we deserved the point.”

With those contributions Buckley and Traynor put themselves in the reckoning for the starting line-up. Also in midfield, Dave Mulcahy is available, back from suspension. David Scully (ankle injury) remains out.

Heary has strengthened his defensive resources with the signing on professional terms of tall centre-half Neil Yadolahi (20), a youth Irish international who was on the books of Burnley for over two years until last year. More recently, he had a short spell with Turkish side Bucaspor and a trial with Swansea City. He has been training with Bohemians for the past month.

“There’s nothing to say we can’t go and get a result”

ST PATRICK’S ATH v BOHEMIANS (Richmond Park, Friday August 30th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians face the league leaders knowing that their opposition will be at least as anxious as they are not to drop points.

Bohemians are aiming to equal or better the 1-1 result in their last league match at Inchicore, having pulled themselves up two places with a win two weeks ago against Shamrock Rovers.

“It’s been a long two weeks but the lads are ready to go, and chomping at the bit. They’re up for another big performance like the one they gave against Rovers,” said manager Owen Heary.

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“Pat’s is a massive test. They’re top of the table, unbeaten at home for a while. Nobody’s giving us a chance, and that’s the way it has been for the last few games.

“But all the pressure is on them. They’ve been there before, and they may be starting to get a bit edgy. There’s nothing to say we can’t go there and get a result.”

The Bohemian manager underlined the whole team’s defensive effort that kept Rovers down to very few scoring opportunities. “If we stick to the game plan, hopefully we can restrict Pat’s to minimum chances,” said Heary.

Against the same opposition four months ago, Bohemians had to survive continuous pressure to come away with a draw. Dave Mulcahy scored the second-half equaliser in one of his trademark barn-storming performances.

He was also man-of-the-match against Shamrock Rovers but he will be missing on Friday through suspension.

“Not having Dave is a big blow. The way he started against Rovers set the tone for the whole match. But we have other players who can fill in,” said Heary.

He was very impressed with Daniel Byrne’s debut start alongside Mulcahy in the last league match, and the young midfielder will be in the reckoning again.

“At 20, there’s a lot of development in him. But he has clearly shown he has potential,” said Heary. “I had seen him in under-19 games and I know what he can do. We threw him in at the deep end, which may have helped him, as he didn’t have too long to think about it.”

Ryan McEvoy’s illness required Byrne’s late selection two weeks ago but McEvoy and Ciaran Nangle (previously out with ankle injury) return for Friday and Karl Moore is back from suspension. However, Dave Scully (ankle injury) and Stephen Doran (away) miss out.

THE REAL DUBLIN DECIDER

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS (Dalymount Park, Friday August 16th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians are aiming to get points to match their improved performances in defence as they welcome old rivals Shamrock Rovers on Friday.

Manager Owen Heary sees his side as having gained in discipline and structure, and against Cork City “defended excellently” for more than 90 minutes.

“It was a vast improvement on what we have done in the last few games, and then we had the sucker punch in the 95th minute,” he said.

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Heary felt keenly his players’ disappointment but observed that the depth of disappointment reflected their exceptional work-rate.

“The Rovers game is a good one to come at this point because we need to bounce back quickly. The lads know what is expected of them. They believe in what we are doing, and they know they are going in the right direction.”

Heary is not inclined to move players around, and even less to select himself, in order to strengthen the defence further.

He also saluted the outstanding performance of goalkeeper Dean Delany against Cork and in bringing off a series of top-class saves in earlier games, even against UCD when Bohemians conceded three goals.

“He’s a senior player and he’s stepping up to the plate,” said Heary of the only player in his squad to play all 24 league games this season.

Daniel Byrne made his Bohemian début against Cork City as a substitute on 80 minutes, having recently signed from Kilbarrack United. Heary was delighted for Byrne to get on for the club he supports as a fan. He expects the 20-year-old defender/midfielder to be a “vital part” of his plans for the rest of the season, as all the players in his squad fight for places.

For Friday the Bohemian manager must plan without former Shamrock Rovers player Karl Moore (suspended) and Ciaran Nangle (ankle injury), but Keith Buckley returns from suspension and Andy Mulligan from hamstring injury, giving Heary crucial choices to make in midfield.

“Karl has been brilliant for us in the last few matches. He’s a natural winger and you don’t get many of them these days,” said Heary. “But Andy Mulligan has that too, Keith Buckley is back, and Kevin Devaney can be a threat to the Rovers defence on the right. So we have options.”

Shamrock Rovers will be missing several leading players through suspension but Heary is keenly aware of the strength-in-depth of the rivals’ squad.

“We’ll focus on what team we think they will put out,” he said. “In these derbies, form goes out the window, as we have seen in the last few games against Rovers. It’ll be down to keeping our discipline and sticking to the game plan.

“This is massive for the club, massive for the fans and, particularly, it’s massive for the team.”

Forward Chris Lyons (bruised ribs) faces a late fitness test for Friday, though he trained this week. He has been joined in training by fellow-forward Eoin Rhodes, recently signed to Bohemians’ under-19 squad from Ross Celtic in Co. Wexford.

Rhodes featured in last month’s friendly against Glenavon and scored a hat-trick in an under-19s’ pre-season match against Baldoyle United. He is one of three recent under-19 recruits from Co. Wexford.

Bohemians will play a friendly in Ferns on Saturday in acknowledgement of the contributions to the club from that county.

 

“THE LADS ARE HURT, BUT IT’S GOOD HURT”

CORK CITY v BOHEMIANS (Turner’s Cross, Friday August 9th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians go to Cork hoping that the “hurt” of last week’s defeat will spur them to higher levels of performance and concentration.

Manager Owen Heary has been working the team hard on set-pieces after conceding goals from corners and a free against UCD last week.

“The lads are disappointed and feeling hurt. But it’s a good hurt. They know they did well, even if they are disappointed at conceding those goals,” he said.

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“The training has been high-tempo because of the frustration. They know they are well capable of winning games, if they can eradicate those mistakes.”

Heary takes hope from his team’s performance. “We created chances, we got a lot of bodies forward, and UCD never threatened us in open play.

“We scored early on, we were in control of the game, and we had another chance soon afterwards. If we had got the goal later to go 2-all, I’m sure we would have gone on and won the game.”

The caretaker manager, also one of the league’s most experienced defenders, has been addressing the team’s problem of “not reacting to the second ball” when the first attempt on goal has been defended.

“It’s a mental thing, being determined that you’re not going to let the man you’re marking score,” he said. “That’s the difference between the teams at the top and teams at the bottom. The teams at the top are quicker to react and make sure the opposition don’t get on to the second ball.”

Last March in Turner’s Cross, Bohemians went ahead when Heary was first to a Ryan McEvoy corner at the near post. But Bohemians could not hold the lead, losing 2-1, and the scoreline was the same when the teams met in May in Dalymount Park.

Cork have lost four of the players who featured in those matches and, like Bohemians, changed manager following a run of poor results. Friday’s match will be Stuart Ashworth’s first league game in charge.

Heary knows Ashworth as a “good manager” through the under-19 league but he is hoping Friday’s opposition don’t get the new-manager bounce, that has been observed elsewhere in the league.

Midfielders Dave Mulcahy and Ryan McEvoy return from injury but Chris Lyons (bruised ribs), Andy Mulligan (hamstring), Stephen Doran (ankle) and Keith Buckley (suspended) are not available.

Heary is confident his players’ efforts will yield results. “The fans could see last week that the players are working hard and playing for the shirt. We have to play to win,” he said.

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