“It’s given everyone a big lift”

​DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
Friday May 5th, Maginn Park, Buncrana, 7.45pm

Bohemians are determined to build a run of form after recording their first win in five league games.

Bohs ended a sequence of four defeats in a row with a 2-0 victory last Friday after a determined performance against Finn Harps.

The Gypsies had earned plaudits for the manner of their performances during their winless streak, but manager Keith Long was relieved they finally had something to show for their efforts.

Long said: “We knew it would be a battle against Finn Harps. We kept our discipline and put in a professional display.

“It was a good win and it was important to get the three points. We were a bit nervous, but we’ve played better in other games and got nothing.

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“The most important thing was that we won the game. It’s given everyone a big lift and should inject some confidence into the boys.”

Having taken the lead through an own goal, Oscar Brennan sealed the deal with a stunning effort in the second half.

Long is delighted with the progress of the 21-year-old, who started the season in the centre of defence having signed from Cabinteely, but has since more often been deployed in midfield.

Long said: “It was a good goal and he deserved it.

“Oscar has been very good all year. It’s a big step up from playing in the First Division but he’s showing us what he can do.

“He really wants to do well for the team and has a brilliant attitude. That’s half the battle.”

The Gypsies face a Derry City side who are on a winless run of their own.

Having started the season with four league wins on the spin, Kenny Shiels’ side have struggled to regain that form since the tragic passing of club captain Ryan McBride in March.

The Candystripes are six league games without a win since but Long is understandably cautious of a team that beat Bohs 4-1 at Dalymount on the opening day of the season and who have now beaten the Gypsies in each of the sides’ five previous meetings.

He said: “We’ve seen how good they can be already against us on the opening night. They are an excellent side with some excellent individual players and they will get back on track.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs hope to be boosted by the return of Dinny Corcoran. The striker has not featured since being forced off with a knee injury against Galway United on St Patrick’s Day.

He has trained all week and it is expected that he will take his place on the bench at Maginn Park.

Derek Pender (quad) and Dylan Hayes (hip) are both doubts, but it is hoped they too will be available for selection.

Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain out.

“We have to develop a winning mentality”

​BOHEMIANS v FINN HARPS
Friday April 28th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to start turning good performances into results.

The Gypsies welcome Finn Harps to Dalymount Park determined to end a four-game losing run in the league.

That dip in form – albeit two of those defeats came against the best two teams in the country – has seen Bohs drop from fourth in the table to ninth.

Long’s men have drawn plaudits for the manner of their performances in their last three losses, but the manager would clearly rather see points on the board.

He said: “Past performances count for nothing. We’ve done okay in some of those games but that’s immaterial now.

“We need to turn good performances into results and develop a winning mentality.”

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Bohs’ cause has not been helped by the continued absence of Ismahil Akinade, who is recovering from surgery to remove his spleen, and Dinny Corcoran, who remains out with a knee injury first picked up against Galway United on St Patrick’s Day.

Corcoran had five goals in five league games before being sidelined and Bohs have scored just one league goal in his absence.

But Long is adamant it is time for others step up to the mark and said: “That’s the hand we’ve been dealt. We can’t feel sorry for ourselves.

“We’ve still no recognised out-and-out centre-forward, so the goals are going to have to come from elsewhere.”

It’s not just in front of goal where Long is demanding improvements.

While his team has earned praise, much of their good work in the middle of the park has been undone by costly mistakes at the back.

Long said: “We have to get better collectively from a defensive perspective. We want to be a team nobody wants to play against.

“But we are positive too and I think that will be seen in how we approach the game.

“It’s going to be a difficult one – Finn Harps have done very well on the road this year. But we are determined to go out and do what it takes to get the win.

“We’re not even a third of the way into the season yet, there’s a long way to go. But we want to finish off the last of the first series of games with a victory.”

Recent injury pile-ups and the focus on improving the team’s league position have seen experimental line-ups deployed in both the EA Sports Cup and Leinster Senior Cup.

That experiment fared well in the EA Sports Cup victory against Cabinteely and they put up a fight in the 3-1 defeat against a strong Shamrock Rovers XI in the same competition.

But Long was disappointed with the manner of the 3-0 loss to Shelbourne in the Leinster Senior Cup on Monday.

He added: “Obviously we want to move up in the league, that has to be our priority. We don’t necessarily have the squad to play three games in eight days either.

“We used the games in the League Cup as an opportunity to play younger players and players around the first team lacking game-time.

“It was the same in the Leinster Senior Cup on Monday, although Shels chose to play their first team.

“I was disappointed with our performance. We have a tight squad and you can’t be feeling sorry for yourself that you’re not in the first team.

“Monday was a chance for players to scream at us that they should be in the team every week, but we didn’t have that from enough of them.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs continue with the exact same squad as last week, which means Dinny Corcoran (knee), Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain on the sidelines.

 

SHOW US WHAT YOU CAN DO

​BOHEMIANS v SHELBOURNE
Leinster Senior Cup
Monday April 24th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Keith Long hopes his young guns can make a name for themselves again in tonight’s Leinster Senior Cup Dublin derby.

Long led Bohs to the Leinster Senior Cup title last year – his first trophy at the club and the Gypsies’ first since 2010.

But improving his side’s league form is currently the number one priority and as such Friday’s game against Finn Harps is seen as significant.

That focus provides another opportunity tonight for players from the under-19 and under-17s teams to stake their claim to be considered for first-team duty as Bohs host our oldest rivals Shelbourne.

Already this season, Long has used the EA Sports Cup victory against Cabinteely and defeat to Shamrock Rovers as a chance to field experimental and youthful line-ups.

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Those two ties have seen the likes of Fuad Sule, Brandon Perry, Paddy Kirk, Jamie Hamilton, Steven Nolan and Eoghan Morgan make their first starts for the club.

Before those games, Long insisted there were places in his first team up for grabs for those who performed well.

He was true to his word too with Sule, who made his debut in the 1-0 win over Cabinteely, retaining his place in the three games since, while Hamilton and Nolan have also tasted league action from the bench.

Long said: “We’ve a big game on Friday and obviously the league is the most important thing for us this year.

“But this is another chance for us to look at players from the under-19s and under-17s and for them to show us what they can do.

“It’s a big step-up to the first team but we want to give young players an opportunity and there are others around the first-team squad who we feel deserve a game too.

“Games like these will stand to them in the future. They were excellent in the win against Cabinteely and we want to see more of the same tonight.”

“EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE”

​​DUNDALK v BOHEMIANS
Friday April 21st, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long believes the manner of Bohemians’ recent performances suggests there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Ravaged by injuries in recent weeks, Bohs have lost their last three league games against St Patrick’s Athletic, Sligo Rovers and Cork City.

That dip in form came on the back of a run that saw the Gypsies pick up 10 points from a possible 12 in their previous four games.

And manager Long reckons returning bodies can help his side return to form sooner rather than later.

He said: “We’ve shown in our performances against Sligo and Cork that we are not a million miles off.

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“We felt our performances really deserved something out of those two games. We obviously need players back, but we are on the right road.”

Long’s side dominated Sligo in the middle of the park a fortnight ago but frustratingly could not find the back of net, while Karl Sheppard’s long-range dipping volley was a real sucker-punch last week after an otherwise impressive Bohs performance against Cork City.

Clinical Cork went on to score a second three minutes from time through Garry Buckley to secure their ninth league victory in a row and maintain their 100% start to the season.

But Long said: “It was a good display. That second goal put a gloss on the result for them.

“The first goal was a hard one for any keeper to save, but we could have done a bit better defensively in the build-up.

“The second goal was disappointing. It killed any chance we had of getting something out of the game.

“We spoke about mistakes at the back costing us again so we have to stop making them.

“That’s especially the case against Dundalk. If we don’t all do our jobs, they have the players who can expose you.”

Bohs’ chances in recent weeks have not been helped by the lack of a recognised goalscorer.

Ismahil Akinade has missed all of the league campaign to date after undergoing surgery to remove his spleen on March 1. He resumed training last week but is still some way off a return to action.

It had been hoped that Dinny Corcoran (knee), who has not featured since hobbling off against Galway United on St Patrick’s Day, would be ready to return but he will not be risked.

There was more positive news elsewhere though with Jamie Doyle, forced off early against St Pat’s three weeks ago with a quad injury, ready to return.

Midfielder Ian Morris, a real star in Bohs’ opening games of the season, could be set for his first league start in a month.

He has been eased back to action with 20 minutes off the bench against Cork and after playing the first 45 in Monday’s EA Sports Cup 3-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers.

That loss saw Long keep faith with much of the experimental and youthful line-up that had beaten Cabinteely in the previous round.

Long said: “We made seven changes from the team that started in the league against Cork to the one that started against Rovers.

“We obviously had one eye on the Dundalk game but it was also important to reward the under-19 players who did so well against Cabinteely in the previous round.

“It was a huge step-up for them, playing against a full-strength Rovers team.

“It was never going to be easy against such an experienced line-up and we knew that. But the young lads deserved their chance and that experience so early in their careers will stand to them.

“We lost the game but how they fared bodes well for the future.”

Bohs’ bid to end their losing streak comes against a Dundalk side hurting from their shock defeat to Bray Wanderers last week and desperate to claw back the nine-point advantage Cork currently hold over them at the top of the table.

It’s a daunting task, but Long wants his side to embrace it.

He added: “We have to look after ourselves and our own performance. We’re going up thinking we can get something out of it.

“Dundalk don’t lose many in Oriel Park. We are going have to work hard, play for each other and embrace the challenge.

“It’s a tough test. Dundalk have new players and they will click eventually. We just have to do our best to make sure they don’t click against us.”

TEAM NEWS

Jamie Doyle (quad) returns, while Ian Morris (knee) could be in line for first league start in a month.

Dinny Corcoran (knee), Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain out.

“Nobody will give us a chance”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
Friday April 14th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians are determined to upset the form book when runaway league leaders Cork City come to Dalymount Park on Friday.

The Gypsies host a swaggering side looking to extend their 100% start to the league campaign to nine games.

Manager Keith Long said: “We’re playing a team with eight wins from eight games and six points clear at the top – nobody will give us a chance.

“But we’ve seen shocks around the league most Friday nights, so we will go out in the belief that can be us.

“We’ve had great home support who have been behind us all the way so far and we know they will back us again.”

Such is the early-season congestion around mid-table, sixth-placed Bohs are only two points off fourth but also two points off the relegation spots.

The Gypsies have four points from their four games at Dalymount Park this season and Long is keen for his side to improve their home form to stay ahead of the rest.

He said: “Our home form has been patchy and that’s something we’re looking to rectify.

“We know it won’t be easy but there is great determination within the group to go out and do ourselves justice.”

Bohs’ cause has been hampered by injuries to date and they will continue without several key first-teamers.

Dinny Corcoran (knee) and Jamie Doyle (quad) are still a couple of weeks off fitness, while long-term absentees Eoin Wearen (cruciate) and Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) remain on the sidelines.

But Ian Morris (knee) could come back into the fray and there was some further good news with Long revealing that Akinade has returned to training.

The striker has been unavailable all season having had surgery on March 1st to remove his spleen.

Long said: “Izzy is back in training this week, doing some gym work and working with the physios.

“The other lads are improving but not as quickly as we would have liked. We’d hoped to have Dinny back but he’s not quite where we need him to be.

“Ian will train tonight and should hopefully come back into contention.”

Key players’ continued absence has provided an opening for others to stake their claim, with the likes of Dean Casey and Fuad Sule starting in the 2-0 defeat away to Sligo Rovers on Saturday.

Sule in particular stood out having only made his first-team debut four nights previously in the EA Sports Cup against Cabinteely.

Long said: “It’s important we reward players. It’s a big step up from playing Cabinteely to playing in the Premier Division and it took him 20 minutes or so to find his feet.

“But he eventually found his rhythm and it was a very good performance from him.

“He’s a young lad and still has a lot to learn. He had a bit of a stop-start pre-season, partially due to his involvement with Maynooth in the Collingwood Cup.

“But that’s over now and he’s catching up. It was a big test for him on Saturday but he did very well.”

Although frustrated not to get anything out of the game, there were plenty of reasons for Long to take the positives out of a performance that saw Bohs dominate the second half despite failing to score.

Long said: “We played very well, but were disappointed with both goals we conceded. We pride ourselves on our set-plays, so it’s disappointing to concede from one.

“We had long periods of real pressure and dominance but didn’t take our chances. I can’t fault the effort in our performance but ultimately we feel we lost three points.

“Such was the momentum we had in the second half, if we’d pulled one back, you’d have fancied us to go on and win it.”

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