PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v WATERFORD

Extra.ie FAI Cup semi-final
Friday October 22 2021
Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Live on RTÉ 2

Bohemians host Waterford in the last four of the Extra.ie FAI Cup tomorrow and Keith Long’s message to supporters is: Come to the ground early and get behind the team.

Nothing beats a full Jodi Stand behind the team under the Friday night lights at Dalymount Park and, tomorrow, for the first time in 599 days, we finally get to experience that once more.

That absence of 17 months means that, for some of our players, it will be the first time they have ever experienced a full house at Dalyer.

Long said: “It is great to have full capacity back in Dalymount. We are really looking forward to the atmosphere and noise that that will create, the atmosphere and vibrancy that the full capacity will bring.

“Dalymount is a special place and we want to create a special night. The supporters are key to that.

“A jam-packed Dalymount in full voice for an FAI Cup semi-final, where else would the players want to be after two years of hardship where everybody in the country has suffered in one way or another?

“Hopefully there is light at the end of this tunnel. It has been a long journey to this point but we are so excited to have those supporters back. Hopefully we can get them excited about coming to watch their team play.

“There is no doubt that players feed off the energy the fans give. You only have to look at those European games in the Aviva Stadium, the second round of the FAI Cup against Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount when there was a crowd of 800 in attendance – it felt like there were 3,000 or 4,000.

“Similarly in the Aviva Stadium where we experienced crowds of 6,000 and 8,000 but in the ground they generated much more noise than those numbers would suggest.

“We have got an amazing fanbase. We have supporters who really, really back their team. It is our responsibility to give them something to get excited about.”

A return trip to the Aviva Stadium is the prize on offer if Bohs can get past Waterford.

Having not played at Lansdowne Road since the 1992 FAI Cup final, the Gypsies had three memorable outings in the summer with UEFA Conference League wins over Stjarnan, Dudelange and PAOK.

But making it a fourth trip to the Dublin 4 venue will be no mean feat – Waterford have become a difficult prospect since the arrival of Marc Bircham as manager in mid-May.

Long said: “The players are really looking forward to the challenge. We have very difficult opponents who are in good form.

“Waterford are flying at the moment. They are unbeaten in the last four games and they beat Finn Harps 4-1 on Friday, so they come to Dalymount with great confidence.

“They are a well organised side, they have some very good players. Since Marc came in, you can see a clear distinction between what Waterford were previously to what they are now.

“You can see from their recruitment, the players they have and how well organised they are that they are a credit to him.

“We are under no illusions about the task that we face. But we look forward to that challenge. We have done our homework like we would any other team and we can’t wait for the game.

“It is really important that we channel all our energy into putting in a performance. We have to concentrate on what we are about.

“We want to give a good account of ourselves and we want to progress. We know the supporters would absolutely love for that to happen and, for this group, it is another opportunity for them to grow.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are hopeful that James Talbot (groin), James Finnerty (groin), Ross Tierney (foot) and Georgie Kelly (groin) will be available once more but they are likely to be assessed again before the game. Stephen Mallon (hip) remains out.

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