“IT’S A CUP FINAL FOR BOTH CLUBS”

bohs-shels

BOHEMIANS v SHELBOURNE (Friday June 14th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Bohemians boss Aaron Callaghan has described this Friday’s crunch North Dublin Derby with Shelbourne as a “cup final for both sides”, writes¬†KEVIN FAGAN. Following last weekend’s heroic draw with champions Sligo Rovers, Bohs will be looking to get a valuable three points against their nearest rivals heading into the Airtricity Premier Division’s mid-season break.

Referring back to the Sligo game, Callaghan felt it was one of the Gypsies’ best performances of the season. “It was a fantastic performance. Not many teams go up there and come away with a result, especially in the last year. I thought the character of the team, the application and the work-rate was fantastic. But I think the key was Owen Heary coming back into the team.”

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Bohs’ veteran captain made a long awaited return to the starting line-up against Sligo, and there was surely no coincidence that the Gypsies kept their first clean sheet in 14 games with the former Shelbourne man in the side. “He just gives us that extra bit of experience”, said Callaghan.

“It obviously improves the communication amongst the defenders, and allows us to push Dave Mulcahy into midfield. When you have that type of experience, and work rate to come in, it rubs off on the young players. Owen is a winner, and it just shows you how important it is to have that experience in key positions.”

Looking ahead to this Friday’s clash, Bohs can stretch their lead over bottom-side Shelbourne to 11 points at the mid-season break. While Callaghan knows the importance of the game, he isn’t too concerned about the visitors’ place in the table.

“It’s a cup final for both clubs. Shels have improved under Johnny (McDonnell, new Shelbourne boss), he has them more organized. Both clubs know the importance of the game. Realistically, we have to look at the chasing pack around us. We know that Shels are within touching distance, but we can’t control what others are going to do.”

Callaghan acknowledges a mixed set of performances as we move past the half-way mark in the Airtricity League Premier Division.

“We’ve had some poor performances, we’ve had some mediocre performances, and we’ve had some very good performances. One of the key areas we need to address is our home form. We seem to be picking up some good points on our travels – we’ve got some good draws away to Drogheda, Pats, Shamrock Rovers, and obviously last week against Sligo. We know we have to improve our home form in the second half of the season”.

With the mid-season break approaching, Callaghan says that he will be looking to strenghthen the Bohs squad during the transfer window. “Budgets dictate what we can and can’t do, but we’ll definintely be looking to bring 2 or 3 in and maybe move two or three on who havent been playing much. I think at this stage of the season most clubs will be looking to do something.”

No players are definitively ruled out through injury for the Shelbourne game, but doubts include Owen Heary (hip), and Luke Byrne (dead leg). Keith Buckley is also nursing a hamstring strain, but Callaghan is hopeful all three will make the game.

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