February 23, 2017
PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY
Friday February 24th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Keith Long has urged his new-look Bohemians team to start as they mean to go on when the 2017 season kicks off on Friday night.
The Gypsies welcome Derry City to Dalymount Park for their season opener and manager Long is relishing the challenge.
Long, in his third season in charge at Bohs, said: “We can’t wait to get started. It’s been another long off-season so we’re all eager to get out there now.
“It’s the first day of the season, so we know we’ll have a big home support.
“It’s potentially the club’s last year in Dalymount, so we hope people will come and support us.”
Having lost some experienced players over the closed season, Long has had his work cut out rebuilding his squad.
But he has succeeded in attracting previous fans’ favourites such as Keith Ward and Dinny Corcoran back to the club from Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic respectively, while defender Rob Cornwall joined from rivals Shamrock Rovers.
That experience has been complemented by the additions of exciting young talent such as Oscar Brennan (Cabinteely), Jamie Doyle (Shelbourne), Philip Gannon (Longford), Georgie Poynton (Dundalk – loan), Kaleem Simon (Longford) and Fuad Sule (St Patrick’s Atheletic).
Bedding in so many new players will be a challenge, but Long is placing high demands on his new recruits.
He said: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.
“We’ve a lot of new faces and it’s important they try and get off to a good start.
“We want the supporters on our side from day one so we have to give them something to shout about and put in a good performance.”
Long has been impressed by his players’ dedication during pre-season.
He said: “They’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve bought into what we’re trying to do and their application has been first class.
“But pre-season is over. The serious business starts now. It’s about going out and delivering on the pitch.”
For all the positives of pre-season, there have been some negatives too. Midfielder Eoin Wearen suffered an anterior cruciate ligament tear which is set to rule him out for the majority of the season.
Long said: “It was an impact injury in training and he will be out for six to nine months.
“It’s a big blow but it’s up to others in the group to see it as their opportunity to step up. One door closes, another one opens.”
In 2015, Bohs succeeded in beating Derry City three times out of three.
But it was a different story last year as it was the Candystripes’ turn to complete the clean sweep in the league, while Kenny Shiels’ side also knocked Bohs out of the FAI Cup.
Bohs were left frustrated on each occasion and felt they should have got something out of each of the four meetings.
Long added: “We lost too many games by the odd goal last year and against Derry that was no different.
“There were defeats we could have turned into draws and draws we could have turned into victories.
“We will have to rectify that this year. With the way the league is being restructured, every point is massive. Everyone will be scrapping.”