PREVIEW: St Patrick’s Athletic v Bohemians

Bohemians v Sligo Rovers - SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division

Declan Devine wants Bohemians to hit the ground running when they make the short trip to Richmond Park to take on St Patrick’s Athletic in a Dublin derby tonight.

Bohs come into the game on the back of a busy transfer deadline, with Devine adding four defenders – Divin Isamala, Aboubacar Keita, Luke Matheson and Jevon Mills – to his squad for 2024.

But once the transfer window shut, focus immediately returned to this evening’s trip to Inchicore.

St Pat’s fans have the bragging rights in this fixture having beaten Bohs in both the 2023 and 2021 FAI Cup finals, and Devine knows his side will have to be out of the traps early to help banish those memories.

Devine said: “This is the kind of game as a fan, a player and a manager that you should really look forward to – two local rivals going toe to toe.

“Richmond Park is a brilliant place to go and play football as well, and there is always a good atmosphere between both sets of supporters.

“We went to Richmond Park last year and had two positive performances but it doesn’t count for anything now. St Pat’s have brought in a lot of new bodies, we have brought in a lot of new bodies but it is a Dublin derby with both teams determined to have a positive result.

“It’s St Pat’s first home game so I would expect them to look to start the game with a really high level and high tempo. But we want to start like that too.”

Bohs were rocked in their season opener against Sligo Rovers last week when Rob Cornwall was forced off injured after just 30 minutes. Scans later revealed the worst, with the 29-year-old set for a lengthy spell on the sidelines after tearing his ACL.

That loss disrupted Bohs, and they needed a late goal from James Clarke to salvage a draw against the Bit O’Red.

But bolstered by yesterday’s additions, Devine believes there is a lot to be excited about this season.

He said: “We go into this game with a lot of self-belief and we are pleased with where our squad is now.

“There were positives last week, scoring late on to get something from the game, the two goals we scored were very high quality, and there were a lot of players playing for Bohs for the first time and playing in Dalymount for the first time. But we know we have to be better, particularly at the back.

“Last week we lost Rob in a moment of the game that I think affected everybody. I could feel it in the crowd, I could feel it on the pitch and I could feel it in the dugout. To lose three stalwarts of the club over the last couple of months in Rob, James Talbot and Keith Buckley is a big blow to us as a group and as a club.

“They are set-backs that we have to take on the chin and I was pleased that we were able to respond to get something out of the game. The subs we brought on last week helped to change the game.

“It shows you the strength in depth that we have at the club that we could bring on two full internationals in Martin Miller and Martin Lilander, as well as bringing Brian McManus for his first appearance, and we are lucky to be able to bring on someone like Dylan Connolly off the bench, and then to bring on Nickson Okosun, one of the most sought-after young players in the league, shows we have talented players coming through too.

“They all had a huge impact on the game, and we added some real quality to our squad yesterday, which I feel will give us brilliant strength in depth this season. We know that there were areas that we needed to strengthen but we have a very strong group of players here now who I believe in. We have a lot of talent, we have great pace in our team, and we have players who can hurt teams.

“The changes in the squad and the improvements in personnel we have this season is something I am very excited about, and we will be in a strong position to push forward in the next couple of weeks, and I think we are in a good place.”

As well as yesterday’s recruits in defence, one new arrival who could feature for the first time tonight is Polish striker Filip Piszczek, and Devine added: “Filip is a big presence. He holds the ball up really well, and attacks crosses really well. At 28 years of age he comes in with great experience.

“He has played over 130 times in the top flight in Poland, which is a very high level. There are not many players in this league with that kind of experience at that high a level. He has been a really positive signing for us, and you can already see how much the players respect and value him, and I think the fans will love what they see when they see him play.”

Team news

Bohemians are without Keith Buckley (knee), Rob Cornwall (knee) and James McManus (foot).

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