“The most impressive aspect has been the players’ focus, determination and attitude towards every game”

Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
Friday September 14, Dalymount Park, 7.35pm (please note earlier kick-off time)

Match sponsor: AM Estate Management. Matchball sponsor: In Memory of Alan Bambrick

Bohemians take to the Dalymount Park pitch for the first time in six weeks tomorrow looking to make it seven wins in a row in all competitions for the first time in ten years.

An upturn in form in the last eight weeks has seen Keith Long’s Gypsies climb to seventh in the league table and put a healthy distance of 13 points between them and the play-off spot.

In that same period they have progressed two rounds in the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup, beating Wexford and Galway Utd away from home 7-0 and 2-0 respectively.

Most recently, an experimental line-up containing 10 changes travelled to Scotland to beat Peterhead 1-0 on Saturday, becoming the first Irish club to win a round in the Irn Bru Cup to set up a last-16 tie at home to Sutton Utd next month.

That run of form has seen Long’s men win seven of their last eight games, keeping seven clean sheets – six in their last six – while scoring 24 goals in the process.

Their one defeat in that period was to league leaders Dundalk and Long’s team face a similar challenge tomorrow against a Cork City side scrapping to retain their league title.

READ MORE

It is the last time the sides will meet in the league this season but the home crowd will be hoping the fixture will repeat itself in two weeks’ time, with the winners of Wednesday’s FAI Cup quarter-final between Derry City and Bohs drawn to host John Caulfield’s side on Sunday September 30 in the last four of the competition.

Long said: “We desperately hope that this is not our final game against them this season. But we’re not thinking any further ahead than tomorrow’s game.”

Long and his team have every right to be confident. But it is not in the manager’s make-up to allow himself or his team get ahead of themselves despite their recent form.

He said: “They are champions, we are the underdogs. Cork are a strong, well-organised, talented team with some outstanding players. We will have to play to our maximum to get a result but if we can manage to do that, we know that they are capable.

“It feels like forever since our last home game against Limerick on August 3 but we have had the considerable consolation of winning the five games we have played away from home in the intervening period.

“We have been on a great run of form recently, losing only once way to Dundalk. This run has provided the players with great confidence and belief. Our performances have been really pleasing and we have played some good attacking football.

“But the most impressive aspect has been the players’ focus, determination and attitude towards every game. Being able to pick a settled team has also been very helpful and obviously results have meant changes have been kept to a minimum.”

That was the case until the Gypsies travelled to Scotland last weekend.

The trip to Peterhead, less than an hour outside Aberdeen, brought back memories of Bohs’ breakthrough season 18 years ago when they became the first Irish side to knock a Scottish club out of Europe. That provided the springboard for the club’s first league and cup double in 73 years that season and kicked off the most successful decade – on the field that is – in our history.

Like Roddy Collins’ trailblazers in 2000, Bohs trained on the eve of the game at Cove Rangers’ ground. And there was another link in the opposition dugout too – Peterhead gaffer Jim McInally, briefly manager of Sligo Rovers in 1999, was Collins’ opposition scout ahead of that famous victory against Aberdeen in Pittodrie.

The club is in a different place, the stakes were considerably lower and the victory in Scotland’s north-east less memorable this time around, but it was an enjoyable new experience and an important game in its own right nonetheless.

With such a settled side in recent weeks, it afforded Long the opportunity to reward players who have shone for the club’s U19s and who came from behind to win the Enda McGuill Cup against St Patrick’s Athletic in Richmond Park nine days ago as well as allowing him give others in need of game-time a runout as well.

But it was the only survivor from the starting line-up a week previously, Kevin Devaney, who proved the matchwinner at Balmoor Stadium in a positive performance in which Bohs were never under serious threat and could have won by a greater margin.

Long said: “Modern football is very much a squad game and those who have not been playing regularly recently are as important as those who have been. The motivation within the group is high. The lads have been pushing extremely hard in training, showing great hunger to get back into the team.

“That was demonstrated in Peterhead. We made 10 changes to the team that beat Derry the week previously and the boys who came in put in a terrific shift against unfamiliar opposition who adopted a very direct and abrasive approach to the game.

“We very much deserved to win the game and with a little more composure with our final pass and finishing, we could have won by more.

“It was a good experience for the players and we were able to offer a debut to Robbie McCourt in central midfield along with more valuable first-team experience for Ryan Graydon, Ali Reghba and Andy Lyons, both of whom went directly from Scotland to join the Ireland U19s for Tuesday’s win against Wales.”

That trio will be honoured alongside their Bohs U19 team-mates tomorrow when Craig Sexton’s Enda McGuill champions are paraded on the pitch at half-time.

Long said: “Our 19s team received confirmation of our participation in Europe on the back of winning the league last season and they were at it again last Tuesday in the McGuill Cup.

“For me, they are up there in terms of one of the best underage teams this club has seen. Brilliantly coached by Craig Sexton and his backroom staff, they are a credit to the club.”

Team news

Ryan Masterson (quad) and Danny Grant (bug) will sit this one out. Darragh Leahy (groin) is a doubt. Ryan Swan (cruciate) remains out.

Website by Simon Alcock