Pompey boss Paul Cook looks forward to Dalymount test

BOHEMIANS v PORTSMOUTH
Saturday July 9th, Dalymount Park, 3pm 

Portsmouth manager Paul Cook is relishing the prospect of renewing rivalries with Bohemians at Dalymount Park tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).

English League Two side Pompey kicked off their pre-season campaign on Wednesday with a 3-3 draw with Cook’s former club Sligo Rovers in a testimonial game for Gavin Peers.

Cook said: “I’m delighted to be back in Ireland. I’ve very fond memories of my time in the league, so it was always our intention to come back over.

“It was a great time to be in the League of Ireland. It was extremely competitive with some great managers in Stephen Kenny, Michael O’Neill and Pat Fenlon.

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“We really enjoyed the game in Sligo on Wednesday. It was great to see old friends and faces, and I’m sure it will be the same against Bohemians.”

During five years in charge of Sligo Rovers, Cook enjoyed many memorable battles with the Gypsies.

In 2009, Bohs’ 3-1 victory over Cook’s Bit O’Red all but secured a second league title in a row for Pat Fenlon’s team.

But in the FAI Cup, it was Cook who enjoyed the bragging rights.

His side dumped Bohs out of the competition three years running – first in the quarter-finals in 2009 and then at the semi-final stage in 2010 and 2011 on their way to winning the trophy two years in a row.

Cook said: “They were great battles with a bit of edge – two of those went to replays.

“We’re really looking forward to Bohemians now. It’ll be great to get back to Dalymount. Bohs always gave us a tough game so I expect nothing less tomorrow.”

When Cook left Ireland in 2012 to take charge of Accrington Stanley, both Bohemians and Dalymount Park faced uncertain futures as the reality of the club’s crippling debts hit home.

But Dublin City Council’s decision last year to purchase Dalymount Park with the intention of redeveloping the stadium means things are looking up again.

Cook added: “I know it’s been a tough few years for everyone at Bohs. I was delighted to hear that both the club and Dalymount had been saved.

“When you look back at the games that have been played at Dalymount over the years, it’s a ground steeped in history. It would have been a huge loss to football had it gone.

“It’s a credit to the fans and everyone at the club that it’s been saved and hopefully the community will get behind them now.”

Tickets for tomorrow’s friendly are priced at €10 for adults and €5 for concession/students/children. They can be purchased from tickets.ie or at the turnstiles tomorrow.

“Winning breeds confidence”

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 8 July, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Keith Long admits his team have a pep in their step after recent good form.

Long’s side are unbeaten in six games in all competitions and are climbing up the table. They are currently seventh, the highest they have been all season.

Saturday’s 1-0 victory away to Longford Town made it 10 points from a possible 12 and the Gypsies are now just two points off the top half.

Long said: “Winning breeds confidence. Training becomes easier – players arrive with a bit of a spring in their step.

“But we can’t look too far ahead. It’s not that long ago we were talking about our losing streak, so we can’t take things for granted. We need to give a performance on Friday.”

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Last week’s trip to face bottom-of-the-table Longford was viewed as a potential banana skin and Long was relieved to see his side get over the line.

He said: “We didn’t necessarily play particularly well. But we did what we had to do. Longford are desperate for points and they threw everything at us.

“We were in control of the game in the first half, less so in the second half. We were left hanging on for the three points in the end as we could not add another goal but we got them.

“We know we can pass it better and show more quality on the ball.

“But ultimately we were pleased with the result, especially when you see them go up and score three times and be so unlucky to lose against Dundalk on Tuesday.”

Long is again wary by the threat posed by the Seagulls.

Harry Kenny’s side thumped Wexford Youths 3-0 last Saturday, which made it three league games unbeaten and three games without conceding.

Long said: “Harry’s come in and done well. They’re unbeaten in three, have strengthened their squad and they will be dangerous opponents.

“It will be another tough game – there’s a few ex-Bohs players in their squad too which always makes it interesting.”

Bohs were earlier this week strengthened by the addition of Ian Morris to the first team.

After spells with St Patrick’s Athletic and Glenavon, the midfielder joined the club as Youth Development Officer in April.

The 29-year-old previously lined out for Leeds United, Scunthorpe United, Torquay United and Northampton Town during a 10-year career in England.

Long added: “Ian’s played well over 200 games at a good level in England. You don’t survive that long in the Football League without being an excellent professional.

“He’s still only 29 too – himself and Shane Supple played on the same Ireland underage teams – so he has loads to offer. He gives us options in various positions but I would expect Ian to feature for us primarily in midfield.

“He can add to what we do on the pitch but also to the culture off it. You want professional people with a professional mindset pushing standards.

“The club are already seeing his worth in the youth section and he can give the first team a big boost too.”

Dan Byrne (hamstring) is a doubt. Jake Kelly (shoulder) has returned to training but remains doubtful. Dave Mulcahy (virus) is available again.

Goalkeeper Lee Steacy has left the club to join tomorrow’s opposition.

NO ROOM FOR COMPLACENCY

LONGFORD TOWN v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Saturday 2 July, 7.30pm

Unbeaten in five games in all competitions, Bohemians fans are starting to look up the table again.

Bohs were something of a surprise package last year in Keith Long’s first season in charge, finishing fifth having been in contention for a European place until the last game.

The Gypsies haven’t hit the same heights this season.

But after putting a six-game run without a league win behind them, Bohs currently sit ninth but are just five points off fifth and looking to improve.

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Long said: “Our ambition at the start of the season was to consolidate and hopefully build on last year’s position.

“That is still our ambition but we can’t spend our time distracting ourselves by looking at the table. Ultimately it’s the same each week – we have got to go out and try win our next game.

“It’s not going to be easy. We have to work hard and give a performance.”

Saturday’s opposition Longford Town are just a point adrift at the bottom of the table but have not won since the opening day of the season.

Regardless of going 15 league games without victory, Long is not taking the trip to the Midlands for granted.

He said: “It doesn’t matter who you play in this league, every team is capable of giving you a game.

“They’re down the bottom of the table, they know they need to start winning and they will be scrapping for points.

“Tony Cousins will have them throwing the kitchen sink at us and we have to be prepared for that.”

Last Friday’s 1-1 draw with Galway United after the mid-season break extended Bohs’ unbeaten run but Long felt it was a missed opportunity to claim all three points.

He added: “The danger after three weeks without a game is that you don’t come into a game at full tilt.

“But in fairness, we had trained hard, we did start brightly and should have gone 2-0 ahead, which would have been a different game.

“But after that initial spell of 20 minutes, Galway came back into it and equalised.

“We made changes in the second half and in the last 25 minutes, we looked like the only team who could win it and a decent shout for a penalty too.”

Bohs are once again without Jake Kelly (shoulder) but he has been given the all-clear to return to training. Dave Mulcahy (virus) is a doubt.

“We want to hit the ground running”

BOHEMIANS v GALWAY UNITED
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 24 June, 7.45pm

Keith Long wants Bohemians to pick up from where they left off when Galway United come to Dalymount Park  on Friday.

The Gypsies won four games in a row in all competitions before the SSE Airtricity League took a two-week mid-season break.

A confidence-boosting win against Galway in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup was followed up with victories against UCD in the Leinster Senior Cup and against both St Patrick’s Athletic and Wexford Youths in the league.

Now Long has told Bohs to continue that form and push up into the top half of the table.

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Bohs lie eighth on 17 points, while Tommy Dunne’s Tribesmen are five points ahead in fifth.

Long said: “Galway are ahead of us but we’re looking upwards now. We want to hit the ground running.

“Confidence is high and if we play to our strengths, we can move up the table.

“It’s important we get off to a good start. We were slow starting after the mid-season break last year – that can’t happen again.”

The last time these sides met marked a turnaround in Bohs’ season.

Having lost 1-0 to Galway at Eamon Deacy Park in April, Bohs made amends with a crucial 2-0 victory in the cup at Dalymount Park last month.

That win ended a run that had seen Bohs fail to win or score in seven games in all competitions.

Long added: “It was a huge game for us as our league form wasn’t great going into that game.

“You can see how much confidence the players took from that result. We’ve done very well since, but this will be a different game.”

Bohs welcome back Paddy Kavanagh (ankle) and Ayman Ben Mohamed (international duty). But Jake Kelly (shoulder) remains unavailable.

Goalkeeper Shane Supple joins the squad having been signed from Crumlin Utd, but defender Paul Rooney has left to join Millwall.

Meanwhile, due to a clash with St Patrick Athletic’s Europa League game, Tuesday’s ‪Leinster Senior Cup final between Bohemians and Wexford Youths has been postponed.

“WE NEED TO REPRODUCE LAST WEEK’S PERFORMANCE”

WEXFORD YOUTHS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 3 June 2016, 8pm

Keith Long has challenged Bohemians to build on recent form ahead of their last game before the mid-season break.

The Gypsies face a tricky trip to face Wexford Youths in Ferrycarrig Park on Friday night.

But Long’s side come into the game in a confident mood after successive wins in the FAI Cup, Leinster Senior Cup and SSE Airtricity League.

Sunday’s 5-1 drubbing of St Pat’s – the club’s biggest win over the Saints in 39 years – capped off an impressive 10 days for the team, which ended a run of six league games without a win.

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Long said: “Our performances have improved over the last few weeks. But we won’t be getting ahead of ourselves by saying we’ve turned a corner just yet.

“Nobody would have ever expected us to beat St Pat’s 5-1 and, along with the two cup ties, we do come into the game with a bit of form now.

“We showed on Sunday that there are goals in this team. We hit St Pat’s early, we were really effective and made the most of our chances. But it’s a different game tomorrow and it will be extremely tough.

“We have to ensure we reproduce that intensity and tempo again so we can build on our recent form.”

First Division champions Wexford Youths have proved difficult opponents this season.

League leaders Dundalk needed an injury-time winner against them last Sunday, while the Youths claimed a notable scalp by beating Shamrock Rovers three weeks ago.

Long added: “It’s going to be tough. Wexford Youths have been very difficult opposition for every team so far in the division and will perhaps feel they should have more points in the board.

“The core of the team has been together a long time and Shane Keegan has made some subtle additions along the way.

“We were lucky to get away with a 3-3 draw when we played them earlier in the season, they ran Dundalk so close last week and they’ve beaten Rovers too.

“It will be difficult, but if the team can match the performances of recent weeks, we will give ourselves every chance.”

Mark Quigley is available for selection again after serving a suspension against St Pat’s.

But Jake Kelly (shoulder) faces four to six weeks on the sidelines, while Paddy Kavanagh (ankle) and Jason Caffrey (ankle) are both ruled out.

Also unavailable is Ayman Ben Mohamed due to his involvement with the Tunisian national team, while Dylan Hayes (calf) is a doubt.

Meanwhile, the Leinster Senior Cup final between Bohemians and Wexford Youths has been confirmed for Tuesday June 28, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm.

Website by Simon Alcock