BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS (Saturday February 15th, Dalymount Park, 5pm)

Bohemian boss Owen Heary is hoping weather conditions do not further disrupt his team’s pre-season schedule as the Gypsies look to victory in their first competitive game of the year, writes LUKE O’RIORDAN.

Continuing heavy rainfall and strong winds have resulted in widespread disruptions to the sporting calendar, but Heary is keen to get the green light to host Saturday’s Leinster Senior Cup tie at Dalymount Park.

His side have played just one full game – a 4-0 win against Swords Celtic at Scribblestown on February 2 – in pre-season so far as last Friday’s friendly against Waterford United was abandoned at half-time due to rapidly-deteriorating conditions at the RSC with the sides drawing 1-1.


Heary said: “I won’t be pushing for Saturday’s game to be called off, that’s for sure. I want to us to play in Dalymount. We’ve barely played. We need games and we need games in Dalymount before the season starts.

“Weather hasn’t disrupted training too much. One day last week, it was pretty hectic so we only trained for an hour. It was the same on Wednesday – the cones were blowing all over the place – but we still managed to get a good 70 to 80 minutes out of it.

“But in terms of match practice, it has affected us. We played Swords and hoped to progress into the Waterford game but we went down and got 45 minutes where the pitch was flooded and the ball wasn’t moving. We didn’t get much match practice out of it but it was a good pre-season workout for the lads who played as it dragged the legs out of them.

“Fitness-wise, we’re where we want to be. There’s a few of them playing college games too, the likes of Roberto Lopes and Andy Mulligan. But as a team, we’re not there yet. We should be there before the start of the league season, which is the most important thing.”

With Sunday’s friendly against Sandyhill/Shangan also falling foul of the weather, Heary moved quickly to bolster his side’s preparations for the league season with a friendly against Tolka Rovers now scheduled  - subject to FAI approval – for Monday evening (IT Blanchardstown, 7pm).

“As soon as we heard Sandyhill’s pitch was unplayable, we started trying to organise a game for Monday,” he said. “If we get that and then play Shelbourne on Thursday, we’ll have three games in the space of a week, so we’ll have a good idea of where we’re at by the end of it.”

While the priority is getting his players primed for the league kick-off against UCD on March 7, Heary is still treating the Leinster Senior Cup – a competition Bohs have won a record 31 times – seriously.

He said: “It’s a challenge for us at this stage of the year. It’s a cup game, a one-off and we want to progress. But we’ll have to use it as part of our pre-season too and as a guide to where we’re at in terms of preparations for the league.”

Heary’s opposite number in the visitors’ dugout on Saturday is Alan Mathews and he is backing him to bounce back from his turbulent tenure at Shelbourne and rise above the controversy surrounding his appointment as successor to “Mr Bray”, Pat Devlin.

Heary, captain at Shels during Mathews’ spell there as assistant manager to Dermot Keely from 1998 to 2002, said: “Knowing Alan, he’ll get the team right and get the team prepared.

“Alan’s brought in some good players and kept some good ones too. Losing Jason Byrne to us and Kieran Marty Waters to Rovers is a blow but Alan’s proved himself before, winning cups at Longford and Cork. What happened at Shels happened but if you look at most managers, sometimes it doesn’t happen for them at one club but they move on and they do extremely well elsewhere.”

When these sides met in October, Bohs needed just a point with a game to go to avoid a relegation play-off but lost 1-0 at Dalymount Park before stumbling to safety as both clubs lost a week later. Heary said: “Dave Mulcahy was out, Anto Murphy was out and it was clear we struggled for experience in such an important game. Derek Pender and Dean Delany were the only experienced players out there.

“Games like that were the reason we added in the likes of Jay, Paddy Kavanagh and Aidan Price to give us a bit more balance between youth and experience. Hopefully the younger players learn from them and we won’t be fighting down the bottom of the table again.”

Heary has no injury concerns to report ahead of Saturday’s game, adding: “Training has been intense but the lads are looking after themselves. Nobody has taken any knocks but, then again, you can’t take too many knocks when you’re not playing matches!”

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