Wednesday July 5th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to relish the challenge of taking on the standard-setters of Irish football tonight.

Three-in-a-row champions Dundalk come to Dalymount after winning their last four games in a row, scoring 15 goals and conceding none in the process.

But Long is bullish. His side are unbeaten in four too with 10 points from a possible 12.

He said: “This is an opportunity to go head-to-head with the reigning champions. They’re a team who have set the standard for domestic football in recent years.

“Dundalk will feel they are hitting top form as they enter into their European campaig and we will have to be at our very best to get something from the game.

“It is a great opportunity for our boys to test themselves against a top side and it’s a challenge that I believe we are ready for as we come into the game with a good run of recent results.”

Bohs will, however, be without Dan Byrne and Oscar Brennan through suspension.

Ciaran O’Connor, who joined Bohs yesterday until the end of the season, and Georgie Poynton are also unavailable under the terms of their loan agreements from Dundalk.

But Rob Cornwall (hip) returns from injury and could line up at the back alongside promising defender Warren O’Hora, who made his league debut off the bench against St Patrick’s Athletic last month and made his first league start in the victory against Sligo Rovers last time out.

Long said: “It will be extremely difficult without Dano, Oscar and George. But Rob coming back is a big bonus. We feel there is healthy competition for places across the squad.

“The players have been really good showing great desire and hunger on the training ground, working extremely hard to improve individually and collectively.

“I believe we are now seeing the benefits of that in our performances.

“We have done okay so far this season against teams the are in and around us in the table, so the challenge for us tonight is to see how far we have come as a group and to get up against Dundalk, test our opponents, test ourselves, test our skill levels and to have a go.”

The arrival of striker O’Connor further strengthens Long’s squad following the additions of Stephen Donnelly and Keith Dalton.

Long hopes to further strengthen his squad in the coming weeks, something that would not have been achievable were it not for the support of members and fans for the Player Fund.

He added: “I would once again reiterate our appreciation of your efforts as supporters to help us raise funds to bring in some new players and to try and make the squad stronger in the July transfer window.”

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