“WE HAVE STRONG CHARACTERS”
April 28, 2016
BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 29 April 2016, 7.45pm
Keith Long believes Bohemians have the strength in character to upset the odds against champions Dundalk at Dalymount Park on Friday.
The Gypsies come into the game on the back of a frustrating fortnight but Long says his players’ hard work can once again see them rise to the occasion against the league leaders.
Bohs were the only team to defeat the Lilywhites in the league last season and also beat them in the Leinster Senior Cup earlier this month.
Long said: “Dundalk are back-to-back champions for a reason. They are the benchmark in standards we all have to strive to match.
“These kind of games are the ones you want to play in, albeit we would like to be in better form coming into it.
“There are maybe some players who are suffering in confidence a little bit as they haven’t yet hit the same heights as last season.
“But there is nobody you can point the finger at for not giving their all. We have a dressing room of strong characters – the harder and smarter we work, the more our luck will change.”
Luck has been in short supply in recent weeks. After Dublin derby defeats to Shamrock Rovers in the league and on penalties to Shelbourne in the EA Sports Cup, Bohs sought to get back to winning ways against high-flying Derry City last Friday.
But, despite a lively second-half performance, the Gypsies were left frustrated at The Brandywell when a strong defensive display saw the second-placed Candystripes eke out a 1-0 victory for their fifth home league win from five.
Long said: “Derry are flying at the moment, but we felt we should have got something out of it.
“Kurtis Byrne had the best chance of the game and we should have had a penalty in the second half when Paddy Kavanagh was fouled in the box.
“We didn’t play the referee or go looking for the penalty like some teams would – maybe we need to be cuter in those situations in future.
“We were disappointed with the goal we conceded too. We had spoken of the threat posed by Barry McNamee’s runs and it was an easy finish for Rory Patterson.”
Eoin Wearen (hip), Ismahil Akinade (hamstring), Jason Caffrey (hamstring) and Adam Evans (virus) will sit out Friday’s game.
But Long’s defensive options are boosted by the return of captain Derek Pender, Anto Murphy and Dylan Hayes, who all sat out the Derry game with a virus that has hampered team selections over the last month.
The unavailability of Bohs’ three most prominent options at right-back saw Dan Byrne deputise in that position in Derry.
Long added: “Kenny Shiels talked about his players being fatigued. On top of everything, we had played over 120 minutes in the EA Sports Cup on the Monday and had a 3½-hour trip up to Derry four days later!
“We had to play the hand we were dealt and switch things around, but I think we are in a much better place this week.”