“This group of players want to get to a final. Everyone at the club does.”

Andre Wright celebrates with supporters on Friday night - Stephen Burke

EA SPORTS CUP SEMI-FINAL
Dundalk v Bohemians
Monday August 19 2019, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians boss Keith Long believes a strong vocal travelling support at Oriel Park tonight can help the club reach its first major final in nine years.

The Gypsies come into the game flying high after Friday night’s remarkable 10-1 win over UCD at Dalymount Park where goals from Andre Wright (4), Danny Mandroiu (3), Conor Levingston, Danny Grant and Ross Tierney left all in attendance stunned.

The result was the club’s record league win in its 129-year history and was the first time a club has scored 10 in a League of Ireland game since Cork Hibernians beat Transport by the same scoreline 59 years ago.

More importantly the win, coupled with Derry City losing at home to Shamrock Rovers, saw Bohs leapfrog the Candystripes and back into third position in the league.

Long said: “It was a great night for the players and fans. We moved back up into the European places and we improved our goal difference in doing so, which is important.

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“We started the game really well and played some really good stuff. The boys didn’t take the foot off the gas in the second half. They were hungry for goals.

“It was great for Andre to get his first goals for the club, which was important for him. Now that he’s off the mark in the league that will help him going into future games.”

It exorcised the demons too of when Bohs and UCD last met when the Students claimed a 1-0 win at Belfield in July.

Long asked questions of his side that night and again in the 1-0 defeat away to the UCD’s survival rivals Finn Harps at the beginning of the month.

The character shown in the nature of the 3-2 comeback win over Shelbourne in the FAI Cup 10 days ago coupled with Friday’s performance suggests a determination within the squad to answer those questions.

But it will be an altogether different challenge posed tonight against the champions and runaway league leaders.

Vinny Perth’s side bowed out of the Europa League last week with a disappointing 4-1 aggregate defeat against Slovan Bratislava.

Domestically, however, they are showing no signs of a let-up in their dominance and Bohs don’t need any reminding of just how ruthless they Lilywhites can be.

The Gypsies have twice gone up to Oriel Park on Monday nights this season and have matched the Lilywhites on their own patch for 90 minutes only to come home empty-handed after conceding injury-time penalties on both occasions.

For it to happen once was hard to take, for it to happen a second time was gut-wrenching for players, management and travelling support alike, who will all be hoping it is a case of third time lucky tonight.

Long said: “We played extremely well in both games and to lose them was hard to take. Tonight the most important thing is to get the result. The result is more important than the performance.”

Getting that result will be easier said than done but Bohs won’t be lacking in determination in their efforts to do so.

They came agonisingly close to getting to the final of the FAI Cup last season – they were 1-0 up their semi-final against Cork City in the 87 minutes until a controversial penalty decision forced a replay in Turner’s Cross, which they lost.

That heartbreak has reinforced the determination within the dressing room to go one better in the EA Sports Cup where Derry City await the winners of tonight’s game.

If they do, it would be the club’s first major cup final since winning the Setanta Cup in 2010.

Long said: “This group of players want to get to a final. Everyone at the club does.

“There is a hope and expectation there which brings its own pressures but we will go up there giving everything we’ve got to get us to a final.”

Despite the date for this game only being confirmed last Wednesday on account of Dundalk’s involvement in Europe, a large travelling support is expected.

Long said: “The supporters have got behind us up there this season as they have everywhere we’ve gone this season.

“I know the club has supplemented buses for this one. It’s good to be able to give the supporters back something for the support they’ve shown throughout this season, so hopefully we’ll have a big support up there behind us. That can be important if a game is in the balance.”

TEAM NEWS

Goalkeeper James Talbot is suspended due to accrued yellow cards. He is likely to be replaced by Michael Kelly, who was signed at the end of last month.

The 23-year-old most recently played a first-choice goalkeeper for Longford Town last season having previously been on the books at Cabinteely and Shamrock Rovers.

Earlier this year he was training with QPR.

While Talbot misses out through suspension, club captain Derek Pender returns from his.

Rob Cornwall played his first game since April on Friday as he continues his recovery from an Achilles injury. He might not be risked again tonight.

James Finnerty, with whom Cornwall formed a formidable partnership at the heart of the Bohs defence in the early stages of the season, misses out once more with a calf injury.

Long-term absentees Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out.

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