“WE WANT TO DELIVER A TEAM THE FANS CAN BE PROUD OF”

BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY
Tuesday February 27, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Match sponsor: Arkway Refrigeration
Matchball sponsor: Conal Devine & Associates

Bohemians welcome Derry City to Dalymount Park tomorrow looking to build on their encouraging start to the season which has seen Keith Long’s side take four points from their opening two games.

The Gypsies kicked off the 2018 season by coming from behind to claim derby-day bragging rights with a 3-1 derby victory against Shamrock Rovers.

And they had to dig deep once more in Limerick on Saturday after frustratingly falling behind against the run of play before new boy Eoghan Stokes’ late equaliser salvaged a 1-1 draw.

Manager Long said: “The character the team showed to dig out a result with a 90th-minute equaliser was really impressive.

“A point was the least we deserved having had the bulk of possession and looking the more likely to score throughout.

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“Conditions were really difficult underfoot and the pitch was awful, which didn’t help us. But we kept going and we found a way through with Eoghan grabbing his first goal for the club on his full debut.”

Long believes his side grew in stature drawing on the support of the big vocal home crowd in their opening night win against Rovers.

And he will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow against a Derry City side who have won all of the last seven meetings between the sides since Kenny Shiels took charge at the start of the 2016 season.

He said: “This is going to be another really testing challenge for us. We face a Derry side who finished fourth last season, have some excellent players and have one of the league’s canniest managers.

“Our home support was fantastic last time out, the noise and colour generated by our fans was amazing and the players could really feed off that.

“It was great to see Dalymount packed to the rafters and we hope we can generate the type of interest there was around the Rovers game for all our home games.

“There is a lot of really good work being done in the community and behind the scenes at Bohs.

“We want to capitalise on that by delivering a team that plays for the club, plays for the jersey, plays for its community and be one that the fans can be proud of.”

But with games coming thick and fast, Long is conscious of the demands being placed on his squad – one of only two part-time set-ups in the division – and could make changes to his line-up accordingly.

He said: “It important that we can depend upon lads to step into the team and do their jobs. This midweek round of fixtures has not favoured us.

“We find ourselves playing Derry with 24 hours less recovery and preparation time than our opponents, who played in Sligo on Friday night with us playing down in Limerick on Saturday.

“It will also see us travel to Cork on Friday with another 24 hours less recovery and preparation time than Cork, who play in Sligo tonight.

“I would like to see more of a level playing field. If there are back-to-back fixtures, they should be Friday/Monday for all teams or Saturday/Tuesday for all teams irrespective of clubs’ preferred night to play home games.

“You cannot underestimate the value of 24 hours when it comes to recovery. Derry and Cork do not need any further advantage over us – they already have one by being full-time.

“Their recovery with their players is more controlled than ours and to compete on the scheduling of these games in my view hands them another advantage and is unfair, especially when you factor in we are part-time.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs continue to be without long-term absentees Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal), while Rob Manley (hamstring) is likely to sit this one out too.

Keith Ward (hamstring) and Kevin Devaney (ankle) were late withdrawals from the squad that travelled to Limerick but both are expected to be available for selection tomorrow.

“We’re not going to get carried away after one good result”

LIMERICK v BOHEMIANS
Saturday February 24, Markets Field, 6.30pm​

While Bohemians fans have enjoyed a week of derby day bragging rights, Keith Long and his players are keeping their feet firmly on the ground.

Two towering headers from a dominant Dan Casey and a stunning strike from Paddy Kavanagh saw the Gypsies overturn a 1-0 half-time deficit to beat rivals Shamrock Rovers 3-1 at Dalymount Park last Friday.

It was the perfect way to kick off the new season but as fans are still beaming a week later, manager Long and his team quickly shifted their attention to tomorrow’s tricky trip to Markets Field.

They face a Limerick side who, in new manager Tommy Barrett’s first competitive game in charge, also kicked off their 2018 campaign with three points after a 1-0 win away to Sligo Rovers last Saturday.

Manager Long said: “We’ve spoken about the need to be more consistent this season, so we’re certainly not going to get carried away after one good result.

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“It was a great night for the fans, the players and everyone at the club. But you move on quickly.

“We know we will have to be fully focused for Limerick as there are no easy games, particularly now it’s a ten-team division.

“Limerick got a great win up in Sligo and kept another clean sheet having not conceded in pre-season either.

“They’ll be full of confidence, they’ve good players too, so it’s going to be a challenge and our attitude has got to be right.

“They’ve a new manager in place, it’s their first home game of season, so they will have a big crowd behind them.”

For Long, there are aspects of his team’s performance that he would like to see improve.

He said: “It wasn’t a perfect performance, there are improvements to be made. But it was the first game of the season.

“People are settling in and if you haven’t experienced the intensity of the derby before, nothing can prepare you for that and it takes time to get used to.

“What we have to do tomorrow is match the intensity of last week and try and improve our overall performance if we can.”

One player who continues to improve is 20-year-old defender Casey.

Having initially broken into the team at right-back following his arrival from Sunderland last July, it was at centre-back that he most impressed towards the end of the 2017 season.

Last week he grabbed his first two senior goals and the man-of-the-match award to cap it all off.

Long added: “I was really pleased for Dan. He’s still a young player with a lot to learn but I was delighted for him.

“He’s not the finished article yet but he has a good attitude and I believe he can become an important player for us.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs continue to be without long-term absentees Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) but Long has no other injury concerns.

“IT’S A GREAT WAY TO START”

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS
Friday February 16 2018, Dalymount Park

Please note earlier kick-off time of 7.30pm

Bohemians host old rivals Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park in tomorrow’s SSE Airtricity League opener with both sides looking to ignore the hype and do their talking on the pitch.

Unprecedented demand saw the home fans’ allocation to this fixture sell out two weeks in advance, while the away end followed suit shortly afterwards.

It’s the first time since 2005 that the opening night fixtures have thrown up the Dublin Derby. On that occasion, Bohs and Rovers played out a 1-1 draw at Dalymount.

The build-up in recent weeks has been dominated by a sense of anticipation among both sets of supporters and Bohs manager Keith Long acknowledged: “This fixture is a great way to start the league campaign.

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“The sell-out signs have been up in Dalymount Lane for two weeks, which is great to see. It’s just a pity Dalymount no longer has the capacity of years gone – there has been massive interest.

“It’s a big occasion for the supporters and everyone involved with both clubs. But for both sets of players, it’s about getting it right on the pitch.

“Our players have worked hard in pre-season and we believe they will be focused and disciplined in their approach.”

As well as putting the hard yards in on the training ground, Long and his backroom team have worked tirelessly over the closed season to strengthen a squad that had to contend with some high-profile departures such as Ismahil Akinade to Waterford as well as the sales of rising stars Fuad Sule and Warren O’Hora to Barnet and Brighton respectively.

​Even today, Long, despite strong competition, was busy finalising a deal to bolster his attacking options with the arrival of 21-year-old striker Eoghan Stokes (above) from Leeds.

Subject to international clearance, he will go straight into tomorrow’s matchday squad.

The former St Kevin’s Boys frontman joins Darragh Leahy (Coventry City), JJ Lunney (St Pat’s), Rob Manley (UCD), Ryan Swan (Cabinteely), Dylan Watts (Leicester, loan) among the new faces at the club.

But there are some familiar faces making a welcome return too with Keith Buckley (Bray Wanderers), Kevin Devaney (Galway United) and Karl Moore (Bray Wanderers) all rejoining a squad that retained most of its key men from last season.

Looking forward to his fourth season at the helm, Long said: “It’s opening night, with new arrivals at both clubs, so there is change and it will take time for new players to settle.”

These old foes met three times in the league last season with Rovers winning the first two before Bohs claimed the spoils in the sides’ final meeting in Tallaght Stadium.

The bookies once again have Rovers as favourites, but Long remains undeterred.

He added: “It’s no secret that we don’t have the resources that they have, we have tended to go into games against Rovers as underdogs.

“But we can enjoy that tag a little bit too and try use it to our advantage and have our supporters behind us.

“That bond between players and fans is something I’ve preached about since coming in, that was key for us last year.

“There was a definite connection there. Even when we were under pressure, fans didn’t waver.

“That helps players grow in stature and we’ll need that for this game as well as every other one this year.

“It’s an even more competitive league now. We’re not fazed by that but we will need that support again every step of the way.”

TEAM NEWS

Long’s pre-season preparations were rocked by a double blow to his attacking options.

First, Ryan Swan suffered a torn cruciate, which could rule him out for the majority of the season.

Then that loss was compounded with Cristian Magerusan fracturing his metatarsal.

But Long has acted quickly to bolster his front line with the additions of Rob Manley (UCD) and Eoghan Stokes (Leeds).

Dublin derby in U19 final tonight

(Please note earlier kick-off time of 7.30pm)

Tonight is your final chance to see a competitive game at Dalymount in 2017 as Bohemians host St Patrick’s Athletic in the SSE Airtricity U19 League final.

Graham Lawlor’s U19s topped the Northern Division this season and have beaten Limerick in the quarter-finals and Sligo Rovers in the last four to bring them to tonight’s decider.

Graham, Craig Sexton and their team of players have put an enormous amount of effort into this season, so we hope we can rely on the support of as many of you as possible at tonight’s game as they look to give it one final push.

As it is an official FAI cup final, there is an admission charge of €5 which also applies to members.

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Lawlor said: “The players have had another fantastic season and to finish top of our division is a great achievement in itself.

“We’ve then come through two tough teams to reach the final and it would be great if they could cap off a great season with a win.

“It obviously adds a little something extra when you are playing a derby and I’m sure St Pat’s will bring a few fans to Dalymount with them.

“Pat’s have had a really good season themselves, coming through a difficult semi-final against UCD only a few days ago.

“We’ve had a number of players go up to the first-team throughout the year, so I think it shows how well the entire squad has done as the first-team manager Keith Long is great for promoting the youth.

“We had several players involved in the final game of the season which was great but now we need to focus and hopefully end the season with some silverware.”

Jimmy Mowlds’ U17s also had an excellent season and Cork City needed a penalty shootout to beat them after a 0-0 draw in their SSE Airtricity U17 League final at Turner’s Cross on Monday.

While Mowlds’ young guns were bitterly disappointed to lose the shootout 4-2, they can reflect fondly on a campaign which saw them win away ties against Shamrock Rovers and Waterford in their difficult route to the final.

“WE WANT TO GIVE FANS A SEND-OFF”

Bohemians go into their final league game of the season buoyed by some of their key men agreeing to remain at Dalymount Park next year.

Five players – Dan Byrne, Rob Cornwall, Paddy Kavanagh, Derek Pender and Shane Supple – extended their stay at the club this week.

It brings to eight the number of players under contract for next season after rising stars Oscar Brennan, Warren O’Hora and Fuad Sule inked new deals at the start of August.

This time last year, Bohs had nobody under contract for 2017 so manager Keith Long is relieved to have some of his business done early.

He said: “We are in a stronger position now than we are last year. It’s important to have key players committed as we want to improve next season if we can.

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“Derek Pender as captain and Shane Supple as vice-captain, they were two players I wanted to tie down as they drive the culture we’re trying to create at this club.

“They lead by example and we hope that by tying them down already, others will follow suit.

“We re-signed some of our younger players in August too. The fans’ player fund mid-season allowed us to do that and bring in the likes of Dan Casey who has a very bright future.

“For that, we are extremely grateful. It is a testament to the backing we’ve had from our supporters this season and we really want to give them a send-off tomorrow.”

Last week’s stunning 1-0 victory away to Dundalk secured a top-half finish for a team bookies at the start of the season had tipped to be relegated.

And a win against Finn Harps tomorrow coupled with a Bray Wanderers defeat away to Cork City would see Bohs finish as high as fifth.

Long said: “It hasn’t always been plain sailing. We’ve had our ups and downs but overall it’s been a rewarding season.

“We were looking over our shoulders at various stages but we always felt that we had enough in the dressing room to be safe.

“There are three full-time teams below us fighting for survival on the last day – they would all love to be in our position right now.

“Players and staff have worked extremely hard and put in extra hours and extra training to make sure we could first of all survive and then finish as high up the table as possible.

“The backroom staff have been excellent – from Trevor Croly right down. It’s been a collective effort from everyone at the club.

“Pound for pound, the players have done extremely well. They deserve an enormous amount of credit for their efforts.”

Against already-relegated Harps, Bohs are facing one of their bogey teams in recent seasons.

Long added: “We’ve found them difficult opponents. They are a very well-organised team.

“I commiserate with Ollie Horgan on their relegation, but I feel their absence from the division will be a short-term one.”

TEAM NEWS

Goalkeeper Supple (knee) is set to miss a league game for the first time this season. Colin McCabe, signed as back-up in August following his release from Celtic, is likely to make debut in his place.

Dylan Hayes (foot) is also set to sit this one out, while Dan Byrne, Rob Cornwall and Keith Ward are all suspended.

Warren O’Hora (hamstring) will return, while Eoin Wearen (cruciate) is likely to get first run-out of the year having returned to matchday squad v Dundalk last week.

Website by Simon Alcock