“THE LADS HAVE COME BACK DETERMINED TO PUSH FORWARD”

Keith Long by Michael Ryan

BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
SSE Airtricity League
Friday June 29, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long believes Bohemians are back from the mid-season break refreshed and determined to put on a performance in front of their home fans.

The Gypsies went into the brief break on the back of two defeats, but two contrasting performances.

A 2-0 loss in what was a frustrating display at home to Derry City three weeks ago was followed up with a much-improved outing away to champions Cork City a week later.

But, agonisingly, Long’s side ended up empty-handed again after a last-gasp winner for John Caulfield’s team.

Long said: “I thought we were very good in Cork. It was necessary that we put in a performance after we felt we let ourselves down against Derry.

“We were very unlucky down in Cork. We had a goal disallowed and a one cleared off the line.

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“Conceding so late in the game was very disappointing. But overall it was a good performance.

“If we play like that every week, we will be fine. But we all know we have to be more consistent.”

While Long was disappointed with some recent results, opposite number Liam Buckley will also be frustrated with his side’s recent form, which has seen them drop into the bottom half of the table.

But Long is only concerned with improving the form of his own team, which has been buoyed by the return to fitness of Darragh Leahy and Karl Moore.

Long said: “The break has maybe come at a good time for St Pat’s too as they’d lost five in a row before that.

“But we can only focus on ourselves. Our lads have gone away for a few days and they’re back determined and with a renewed energy to push forward.

“We know we have to be better on the pitch. But everyone is back looking forward to that challenge. They’re chomping at the bit.

“With the league going to ten teams this year, this was always going to be tough.

“Other clubs have increased budgets exponentially. We knew it was going to be a challenging season.

“But we’re not going to shy away from that challenge – we’re looking forward to it.”

As Irish temperatures today soared to 30 degrees again today, Long hopes football fans will take advantage of the first break day in the World Cup to come along to Dalymount for a Dublin derby.

He added: “It’s going to be a great evening for football. Hopefully we’ll have a big crowd in early.

“We want to give our fans something to shout about and repay the faith they’ve shown in us.

“Our home form has let us down at times and that’s something we are striving to put right.”

Darragh Leahy (knee), Karl Moore (ankle) and Colin McCabe (shoulder) are all available for selection once more.

Cristian Magerusan, out with a broken metatarsal since pre-season, played 45 minutes and scored for the U19s in a friendly against Glentoran on Saturday as he continues his recovery.

Ryan Swan (cruciate) remains out.

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