“We’ve beaten what’s in front of us but there are tougher challenges ahead”

UCD v Bohemians - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

Keith Long is encouraged by Bohemians’ start to the season but has warned that there are much tougher challenges ahead.

Bohs have won back-to-back games against the division’s newly-promoted sides Finn Harps and UCD.

But the stakes ratchet up several notches when Shamrock Rovers come to Dalymount Park.

The Gypsies have enjoyed the bragging rights against the Hoops lately, winning four and drawing one of the last five, but Long is expecting a tough battle.

Long said: “We’ve done what we can. We’ve beaten what’s in front of us but there are tougher challenges ahead of us, starting against Shamrock Rovers.

“That’s not being in any way disrespectful to Finn Harps or UCD.

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“UCD will find their rhythm and Harps have already done so getting a point against Dundalk on Friday.

“We’re in a good place and it’s great to have points on the board but Rovers are a different proposition.

“There is an expectancy there for them to challenge and win titles so we have to be at our very best against them.

“It’s a big step-up again and a different test for us but we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s a quick turnaround playing Friday and Monday but it’s the same for both teams and we haven’t had to travel.”

As always in derby games, the crowd will have their part to play.

Long said: “It’s a derby, a full house and something our new players will have to adapt to quickly.

“We need the crowd behind us again. They followed us over to Belfield in big numbers on Friday after a full home stand in Dalymount the previous week.

“They’ve given us a big lift already this season and we hope they can help us again.”

That trip to face UCD was decided by two beautiful finishes – first from Danny Mandroiu from 25 yards and then from Dinny Corcoran from six yards.

Long said: “They were two good goals, excellent finishes. Danny Mandroiu’s was sensational. Dinny’s was excellent too after great work by Paddy Kirk down the left-hand side.”

Kirk was one of two changes to the starting line-up from opening night. He came in at left-back in place of Darragh Leahy while Andy Lyons replaced skipper Derek Pender.

Both Kirk and Lyons are products of the club’s U19s and Long is delighted with their progression.

He said: “This time last year you would have been wary about putting both in like that but they have both come on so much.

“They’re a credit to themselves and both did very well. It’s good to have that competition across the squad and players who are ready to come in and play when called upon.”

That competition for places has been bolstered up front too by the re-signing of Ali Reghba – another product of the club’s U19s – and the return to fitness of Ryan Swan.

Swan made his long-awaited debut off the bench against Harps and was again used as a substitute against UCD.

Signed ahead of the 2018 season, he failed to see any action all year after suffering a cruciate tear in pre-season.

Long added: “I’m delighted to have Ali back on board. He gives us more options up front and out wide.

“He’s still very young and has a lot to learn but he’s a quick learner too and has worked extremely hard.

“There’s competition up front now with Dinny, Sam Byrne, Ryan and Ali.

“It’s great to have Ryan playing too. He was so unfortunate last year, getting injured in only his second training session.

“He’s worked ever so hard and his attitude has been exemplary. He’s honest, hard-working and they’re the kind of people we want.”

TEAM NEWS

Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out. Kevin Devaney (knee) remains a doubt.

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