“A packed Jodi Stand can spur on our new players”

Bohemians Squad Portraits 2019

BOHEMIANS v FINN HARPS
Friday February 15th 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians welcome newly-promoted Finn Harps to Dalymount tomorrow with skipper Derek Pender telling his new team-mates to embrace the season’s opening night but warning them to be prepared for a tough battle.

Harps have not beaten the Gypsies at Dalymount Park in 20 years but every point won against Ollie Horgan’s teams is a hard-earned one.

That is a message the experienced Pender – 35 and begining his eighth season at Dalymount Park – is keen to impress upon his inexperienced team-mates.

There is a feeling that there is potential in this Bohs dressing room. Players of experience – such as Shane Supple and Ian Morris – have left and have been replaced by youth.

Pender is the oldest player in the squad by five years with Dinny Corcoran, 30 yesterday, the only other player not in his teens or 20s.

New arrivals such as James Talbot in goals, James Finnerty in defence and Daniel Mandroiu, Luke Wade-Slater and Conor Levingston in midfield, will be hoping to copy the example set by Darragh Leahy, thrown in at the deep end for his debut aged 19 on opening night last season against Shamrock Rovers, and rising to the challenge of first-team football.

Pender said: “We’ve done well against Harps at home when they were in the division before before but we all know that they have got results against us in the past too – most notably in the cup in Ballybofey two years ago – so we expect a really tough opening game.

“People might think they’re a team we should be beating but football doesn’t always work that way. We have a lot of new and young players and it will take time for them to adapt to the physical side of the game in our league.

“We don’t know how long it will take them to adapt. It took us a while to find our rhythm last year but we are determined to get off to a good start this year and hopefully we can click a bit earlier this season.

“It’s a big step for our new players. They’ll soon find that our league is a tough one. You don’t get a minute – it’s fast and furious. They will need to learn quickly and that’s why we try to make our training as competitive as when you’re playing so it’s not such a shock to the system.”

Pender and Co are all the more determined to hit the ground running having had hopes of a positive season curtain-raiser – an IRN-BRU Cup quarter-final against East Fife – dashed due to a frozen pitch at Dalymount a fortnight ago.

Bohs fans turned up in good numbers that Saturday afternoon but left disappointed not to see Keith Long’s new-look side.

Pender said: “There was a good crowd here for the East Fife game and we were disappointed it had to be called off, as I know our fans were too.

“But hopefully that whetted the appetite a bit and we’ll have a big crowd for the first game. A big crowd will be something new for our new players and playing in front of a packed Jodi Stand with our fans behind them will be an experience for them that will really lift them and hopefully spur them on.

“Our fans have really driven us on in recent years and they can really drive our new players on too. They’ve always been behind us, particularly in the last few years.

“Every time I step on to the pitch they give me a lift. I’ve been a player in this league for a good number of years and nothing lifts you like Bohs supporters when they’re behind you.

“Even in the cup semi-final defeat to Cork City last season when we were all so devastated, they stayed behind to lift us. I’ve never experienced anything like what we had there.

“That bond is special and that’s something we want to build on. We always want to give something back to the fans for their support. People might say that’s a cliche but for me it’s not – I really mean it.”

TEAM NEWS

Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) all miss out.

Website by Simon Alcock