“The squad is really stretched but the lads continue to stand up and fight”

Keith Long rallies supporters - Stephen Burke

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
SSE Airtricity League
Friday October 11, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long says his depleted Bohemians side need to continue to stand up and fight to consolidate their place in third.

Two of Bohs, Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic will claim the final Europa League qualification spots and Long’s side seized the advantage with a 1-0 win over Cork City at Dalymount Park last week.

That, coupled with Derry City losing to tonight’s opposition, saw the Gypsies move back up to third, while fifth-placed St Patrick’s Atheltic’s defeat to Waterford gave some further breathing space.

But as Bohs found to their benefit last week, the table can change very quickly. Long is not a manager who allows his team to get carried away but with three games remaining, Bohs are on 53 points, Derry on 51 and St Pat’s on 48.

A slice of luck was all that separated Bohs and Cork last week as visiting keeper Tadhg Ryan fumbled Derek Pender’s cross over the line.

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With a squad ravaged by injury and devoid of any luck in recent months, Bohs were entitled to feel we were due that bit of good fortune.

Long said: “We got a little bit of luck in terms of the goal but I felt we managed the second half quite well and James Talbot in goal was not overly tested.

“With so many injuries, the squad is really stretched but the lads continue to stand up and fight.

“The emergence of some of our younger players has been a real plus and while at this time of the year it’s all about results, the performances of the young lads have been fantastic which gives you great hope.

“We are a young, vibrant team and if we can continue to grow together who’s to say what we can’t achieve?”

The strength in depth of Bohs’ squad will be put to the test once more when runaway champions Dundalk come to Dalymount Park tonight.

Long said: “I admire Vinny Perth and his management team for what they have achieved this season.

“Stephen Kenny moving into the Irish international set-up left a void at the club, one that was quickly filled by Vinny who had worked in tandem with Stephen for many years and gained invaluable experience.

“Dundalk are clearly the best team in the land with many talented players operating in a culture rich, player-driven environment.”

As Long mentioned, his team are once again missing some of this season’s star performers.

Danny Mandroiu is away on international duty with Ireland U21s, while Keith Buckley (hamstring) and Conor Levingston (groin) are serious doubts once again.

Full-backs Darragh Leahy (ankle) and Andy Lyons (knee) are out alongside long-term absentees Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate).

Dawson Devoy and Ross Tierney have been excused from the Ireland U19s’ game against Denmark tonight and will instead link up with Tom Mohan’s side ahead of Monday’s friendly against the same opposition.

Mandroiu’s absence is all the more frustrating given that the fact he is away on international duty with the Ireland U21s this week means that his one-game additional ban for his red card against Shamrock Rovers will now not be served until next week’s Dublin derby away to St Patrick’s Athletic.

That frustration was perhaps compounded further by the fact he remained on the bench for the Ireland U21s’ 0-0 draw with Italy last night.

Long added: “The FAI rulebook continues to be a source of frustration. Danny should serve his additional suspension tonight but because he is deemed ineligible due to his involvement with the Ireland U21s, this suspension rolls over into next week. This is a ludicrous situation.

“We are effectively being punished for having players involved in international set-ups. In the case of Danny, he came back from the last U21 squad injured and missed three games before returning to play against Rovers.

“He served his automatic game on Friday last v Cork and will now miss tonight’s game and next week’s game v Pats, meaning he misses three games instead of two.

“This is not correct or fair on clubs who put a heavy emphasis on youth development. It is in fact anti-development. If we are serious about moving forward with a new FAI, the rulebook is a good place to start. It needs to updated and modernised so it is fit for purpose and doesn’t punish clubs that are doing their business correctly.”

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