“We have to be ready for them”

CORK CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Turner’s Cross, Friday 12 August, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to be ready for a Cork City backlash at Turner’s Cross on Friday.

John Caulfield’s side’s surprise 2-1 defeat to Sligo Rovers on Monday saw them pass up the opportunity to close the gap on faltering league leaders Dundalk.

But after Dundalk lost against Bray Wanderers on Wednesday for their second successive defeat, there is added expectation on Leeside.

Long said: “They will be well up for it. John Caulfield will be looking for a response after losing to Sligo.

“They would have seen Monday’s game as a chance to make ground up on Dundalk and they’ll be looking at Friday night the same way.

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“It’s not a good time to be playing them but it’s never easy against Cork anyway. We have to be ready for them and concentrate on our own game.”

After defeats against Shamrock Rovers and Derry City, Bohs got back to winning ways last Friday with a hard-earned 2-0 victory against a stubborn Finn Harps side.

Long said: “We’ve played better and lost this season. It wasn’t a a great game but the attitude of the players was spot on throughout and I thought we deserved to win the game.

“We had players struggling with match fitness – Stephen Best and Lorcan Fitzgerald hadn’t played in a month so we were pleased to have them available again and to get all three points.

“They were two very well-worked goals by us. The substitutes we made were crucial in breaking them down. Jake Kelly came on after the break and Eoin Wearen then added that bit of spark and creativity that we needed.”

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New signing Dean O’Halloran is expected to feature in Friday’s squad, subject to international clearance for the 20-year-old former Fulham player arriving on Friday.

Long said: “Dean’s very quick. He’s not overly physical – but his pace will stretch the opposition and we needed that.

“He’s not 100% fit yet and hasn’t played in the League of Ireland before but I think he’ll prove to be a good addition to the team.

“He can play out wide or as a No 10 and will offer support up front, running off the likes of Izzy and bringing players into it.”

Bohs also welcome back Dan Byrne and Keith Buckley from suspension.

But Dylan Hayes (ankle), who returned to training this week, remains a doubt, while Stephen Best is a doubt again after suffering a fresh knee injury in last week’s game against Finn Harps.

“IT’S UP TO US TO GO FOR IT”

BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 22 July, 8pm

Bohemians manager Keith Long has encouraged his side to rise to the challenge when high-flying Derry City come to Dalymount Park on Friday.

The Gypsies managed three victories from three league meetings against the Candystripes last season.

But since Kenny Shiels took the reins at the start of this term, Derry are a different animal, currently occupy third place and are now aiming for European football next year.

Long said: “It’s going to be another tough game for us. They’re well organised – everyone has a job to do and they stick to it.

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“They’ve really improved. You only have to look at their league position to know they’re a different prospect for any side this season compared to last season.

“But we’re at home so it’s up to us to go out and give a performance.”

Six places and 12 points separate the sides going into Friday’s game. But despite the gulf, there wasn’t all that much in it when the sides met at The Brandywell in April.

A first-half Rory Patterson gave Shiels’ men a 1-0 victory. But as has often been the case this season, the Gypsies were frustrated, feeling they should have got something out of the game.

Long said: “There wasn’t a huge amount in the game. Kurtis Byrne had a great a chance and really should have scored.

“Both teams were very competitive and I expect it will be the same on Friday.”

Bohs come into this game after a bruising Dublin derby defeat to Shamrock Rovers.

Having saved an early penalty and taken the lead with only ten men, Bohs’ luck ran out as they eventually went down 3-1 – a scoreline that arguably flattered the hosts.

Long said: “The timing of Keith Buckley’s sending-off was unfortunate. We had started the game poorly and Dean Delany got us out of jail with the penalty save. But we were starting to get into it.

“We still managed to get ahead despite being a man down and it was a great finish by Kurtis Byrne.

“But defensively we were too easy to play against. Ultimately Rovers didn’t have to work too hard for their goals and that’s very disappointing.

“Up front we were culpable too – we missed some great opportunities and could have gone in level at half-time.

“We came back into it in the second half but we had to take Izzy Akinade off as a precaution when he took a knock to the head.

“He was making life difficult for Rovers and we lost some of our attacking threat when he had to come off.”

Long’s options are severely hampered by suspension and injury concerns.

Buckley serves a one-game ban after his dismissal against Rovers.

But there are big doubts over the fitness of Ayman Ben Mohamed, who has been limited to a bit-part role in recent weeks due to an ongoing niggling groin injury, Eoin Wearen (hamstring), Dylan Hayes (ankle) and Derek Pender (quad).

Definitely still out is Stephen Best (knee), while Lorcan Fitzgerald (ankle) looks set to miss out again too.

Better news for Bohs, however, is the return of Paddy Kavanagh (ankle).

“WE HAVE TO BE CLINICAL”

SHAMROCK ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Tallaght Stadium, Friday 15 July, 8pm

Keith Long has told his in-form Bohemians side to go out and have a go at Tallaght Stadium on Friday.

But he has warned that focusing on revenge will see the Gypsies come unstuck.

Unbeaten in seven games in all competitions, Bohs are enjoying their best form of the season.

And Long said: “It’s a big game for both sets of players and both sets of supporters. Neither side will need extra motivation going into a derby game.

“But we have to be clinical, do our jobs right and go out and give a performance.

“Confidence is good but there can’t be any passengers. We want to go out to Tallaght and have a go.”

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Bohs were left licking their wounds the last time the rivals met in April. Having lost just once in their previous 11 league meetings against the Hoops, the Gypsies were humbled 4-0 at Dalymount Park.

The eventual collapse hinged on the concession of two goals either side of half-time. Up until the opener, Long’s men had been on top for most of the opening half.

A lot has changed at Rovers since, with Stephen Bradley taking the reins as caretaker manager earlier this month after the departure of Pat Fenlon.

Long said: “We gave away a silly free-kick to concede just before half-time having been the better side before that. We come back out, hit the crossbar and then they go 2-0 up on the break.

“What happened after that was what was most disappointing. The wheels came off as we went chasing the game.

“But none of that comes into our thought process ahead of this game. We can’t be looking at it as a chance for revenge or we’ll come unstuck.

“It’s a different game. Rovers have new management and both sides will be well up for it.”

The Gypsies come into the game in good form but Long was left frustrated that his side could not secure all three points last time out as a battered Bray Wanderers came away from Dalymount with a 0-0 draw.

He added: “We just couldn’t capitalise and put the ball in the net. With the amount of chances we created, we would have been well worthy of the three points.

“We need to be more clinical. We created a lot of one-on-one chances but the fact that their keeper Peter Cherrie was man of the match said it all.

“We put together some very good passages of play at times so the signs are there that our performances are improving.

“But it is disappointing that we’re not going into this game with another three points behind us.”

Long’s options have been limited by injuries sustained by Stephen Best (knee) and Lorcan Fitzgerald (ankle) during last week’s 2-0 friendly defeat to Portsmouth.

It had been feared that Best had suffered a cruciate injury, but a scan on Monday instead confirmed knee tendon damage that will rule him out for up to a month.

Dan Byrne (hamstring), Paddy Kavanagh (ankle) and Ayman Ben Mohamed are also considered major doubts.

Better news for Bohs was Ian Morris making his debut for the club against Portsmouth, while Jake Kelly (shoulder), who had been out for a month, also played 60 minutes in the same game.

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.

Website by Simon Alcock