PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v SLIGO ROVERS

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Declan Devine says Bohemians will be looking to start as they mean to go on when Sligo Rovers provide the opposition at a sold-out Dalymount Park on opening night.

Devine says the closed season required reflection and review after the 2023 campaign ended in disappointment but believes his new-look squad is now raring to go.

Yesterday’s signing of Brian McManus from Shelbourne was the seventh new arrival ahead of the 2024 campaign following the additions of fellow Dubliners Rob Cornwall and Dayle Rooney, Estonians Sten Reinkort, Martin Miller and Michael Lilander, and Pole Kacper Chorazka.

Devine said: “At the start of every season every team goes into it really looking forward to it and we are no different. Undeniably we had a painful off-season, it was an off-season that needed a lot of reflection and review.

“The disappointments of how last season ended will certainly give us additional motivation and hunger in terms of achieving our goals and success in the coming campaign.

“But once pre-season got underway, it has been really enjoyable from the start. The team has been working hard on a daily basis, we have a lot of talented new players in, and everyone is now really looking forward to getting started.”

Bohs fans will be keen to see how those new faces fare tomorrow and Devine said: “I am really happy with the players we have brought in so far. We have brought in a good mix of quality – players with experience and knowledge of the league as well as players who were playing at a high level overseas.

“I have been very impressed with Rob Cornwall. The fans here know him well but his leadership qualities have really stood out for me. With Keith Buckley being out, Rob’s leadership is going to be very important to us.

“In recent games, I have also been really impressed by Cian Byrne. Last year we had relatively unknown 21-year-old centre-back Kacper Radkowski who we took a chance on. Now we have another 21-year-old in Cian who we all know well, who has come right through our academy, and is a player with a lot of ability and potential who I think can have a big career in this league.

“One of our most consistently impressive performers in pre-season has been Dayle Rooney. I’ve really enjoyed working with Dayle. The mentality Dayle has brought to the group in what is his first year as a full-time footballer is something he deserves a lot of credit for. His appetite on a daily basis to come in and do well has been exceptional, and I think him being in a full-time environment will help him push on this year.

“We have really good quality players at the club, great competition for the No 1 spot and in the Estonian lads we have brought in, we have players who have played at international level and in European games at club level.

“We hope to add another striker and centre-back to the group before the window closes but as I have said before, we will only bring in players who improve the squad, as we have quality young players coming through our academy and U20s knocking on the door as well.”

Opening night games are often nervy encounters, and Devine added: “I’ve gone to watch Sligo twice in recent weeks and they will be a formidable opposition. It will be a tough game. In the opening four or five games of every campaign, teams are still finding out about each other and there is usually little between the teams.

“Sligo will be looking forward to coming up here but we will be ready for the game and hope to get off to a positive start.”

Team news

James McManus (foot) and Keith Buckley (knee) remain out.

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