Declan Devine addresses supporters ahead of final first-team game of 2022

Ahead of Bohemians’ final league game of 2022, against Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park at 7pm this evening, new manager Declan Devine addressed supporters directly.

Please note that while tickets for the Jodi Stand are sold out for the game, Des Kelly Stand tickets remain on sale from tickets.bohemians.ie.

Writing in the matchday programme for the first time, Devine thanked members and fans for their support during what has been a difficult season on and off the pitch, looked ahead to next season with enthusiasm, and called for support for Lynn O’Neill’s testimonial game, which takes place this Friday at Dalyount Park.

Devine said:

It is with great pride that I write my first message as manager of this wonderful and prestigious football club and thank you for the amazing reception I have received since moving to Dublin.

Although this is the last game of a very disappointing season on the pitch, we will be doing everything in our power to finish this campaign off with a win.

I have watched this club from afar and before moving to morning training and a professional full-time set-up in January 2023, I believe we should acknowledge with great thanks the incredible work and hours that Keith Long put into the club over his eight years of service. I am sure we will see Keith back in Irish football very soon and I wish him every success in the future.

The last few weeks have given me an invaluable opportunity to assess all aspects of the club and footballing structures. The current league position and results of this season have not been anywhere near good enough for a club of this magnitude and I will work every hour to build a squad of players to help us to get back to challenging for honours and have a team that you as members and supporters can relate to in our work ethic and style of play.

I sincerely thank you, our supporters, for the high level of attendance and for sticking with the team in what has, as stated already, been a frustrating season.

With the work that is underway to move the away section to Connaught Street next season to free up the Des Kelly Stand for Bohs fans, we are all looking forward to having even more people in the ground behind us. We want to give our community something to cheer about. Hopefully we can get the buzz and energy back into this historic stadium, and really have a go at bringing silverware back to Dalymount Park.

It has been a really tough year off the pitch also with the devastating loss of club legend Mono, and as a club that takes care of our own, we will always remember and support Derek’s wife Elayne and young family.

Another incredible servant to our club, Lynn O’Neill, retires at the end of the season and we thank Lynn for an unbelievable 40 years’ service to Bohemian Football Club and wish her every happiness in her retirement. I urge as many supporters as possible to come out and support her testimonial game here on Friday November 11th where real Bohs legends will play in her honour. Tickets are available from tickets.bohemians.ie.

To finish my first message to the fans, please continue to get behind the team and I look forward to building a squad for next season that we will all be proud of.

Enjoy the game,

Declan

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are once again without the injured Jon McCraken, James Talbot, Ryan Burke, Laurenz Dehl, Tyreke Wilson, John O’Sullivan, Chris Lotefa, Johnny Afolabi and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.

ENDA McGUILL CUP FINAL preview: Bohemians v St Patrick’s Athletic

Bohemians supporters are encouraged to get down to Dalymount Park tonight to witness first-hand the enormous potential for future success in spite of what has been a disappointing season for the first team.

This evening, Bohs come face to face with St Patrick’s Athletic in the final of the Enda McGuill Cup – i.e. the FAI Cup for U19s – and it is hoped that a vocal home support can help Seán L’Estrange’s side over the line.

Admission to the game, which kicks off at 7.30pm, is free for all, with the Members’ Bar open for both sets of supporters from 6pm.

U19s Head Coach L’Estrange said: “Anyone who comes to Dalymount tonight is going to see a lot of talented players on the pitch.

“We have no doubt about the ability in the group; the next challenge for them as young players is to deal with the occasion.

“A big crowd would be a real endorsement of them, of the staff, and of the work of the academy.

“There will be players coming and going to and from the first team next season, and tonight is a great opportunity for fans to come and see the talent our academy has to offer for the future.

“It’s a big night for the boys in their own careers, for one. But, aside from that, it is a special night in their lives to play in front of what we hope will be a good crowd in Dalymount.

“It is an opportunity that they may or may not have again so they need to embrace it. To have a big crowd there will mean a lot to them.”

This is the first major U19s game to be played in Dalymount Park since pre-Covid. In recent years, pre-pandemic, many significant fixtures, such as UEFA Youth League qualifiers and domestic knockout games, were regular features there.

The Jodi Stand was well-populated by supporters egging on the likes of Danny Grant, Ross Tierney, Dawson Devoy, Promise Omochere, and so many others, as they embraced the challenge of new surroundings and of putting in a performance in front of a big crowd.

But, for the vast majority of this current crop of talented U19s, tonight will be the very first time they get the chance to impress the Dalymount faithful.

L’Estrange said: “We trained at Dalymount yesterday and, for so many of them, it was their first time in the first-team dressing room in Dalymount Park. That is a special moment for any player, and it was important that we had them in there.

“We trained on the pitch and got them used to their surroundings; these are all important parts of their preparation and development.

“They are under no illusions, though. It is a new pressure for them; it is a cup final in Dalymount. But this is their chance to show how they deal with a big occasion under lights at Dalymount.”

The primary focus at this level is player development, and L’Estrange’s side have thrown some talented young players in at the deep end this season.

He said: “The team is a mixed bag in terms of ages. We have a lot of lads still eligible for the U17s, who are playing up a level this year.

“So, with that bit of youth there has been inconsistency. We have seen that in the league where we have had some really, really good performances followed by some disappointing performances.

“But, in the cup games, we have seen the ability levels of our players in games against tough sides such as Sligo Rovers and Shamrock Rovers.

“In those games, we have been able to see the quality of the group and what they are capable of as opposed to their age and rawness counting against them when it comes to consistency as it can do in a league campaign.

“Because of that, we are going into this game really positive – we know this group has the ability to do something special.”

And, already, some of this crop are making a name for themselves with the first team.

L’Estrange said: “We have players who have already been rewarded with opportunities, the likes of James McManus and Reece Byrne.

“We are really excited about the talent coming through; the likes of Derin Adewale, a left-back who is still an U17 but has been playing U19s all year.

“He’s been involved with the first team the last number of weeks; a super-talented kid. He is a good example of the players coming through. He will make mistakes in his progression but he has so much talent and we are really excited to see how he progresses.

“Then you have Nickson Okosun and Danny McGrath. They are internationals at their own age groups, and they are qualifying for elite qualifiers. Within the academy structure, they are already well known.

“They are the type of lads who might not yet be on the radar for the senior team but within the academy we have really high hopes that these kids can kick on.”

Bohs came agonisingly close to winning this trophy last season, losing out to Derry City on penalties having come unstuck in normal time with the help of a contested refereeing decision.

L’Estrange added: “We will have five or six starters who played in the final last year. It still sits with them that it was a missed opportunity.

“We played fantastically well on the night last year but it is a testament to those boys that they are here again tonight.

“We sat in the dressing room up in the Brandywell this time last year and said that the only way we could make it right was to get back to a final again this year, and win it.

“And, to be fair to those lads, they have done absolutely everything they can to get us there. They just need to see it home now!”

For those unable to attend tonight’s game, it will be broadcast free of charge on LOITV.

Preview: Dundalk v Bohemians

Declan Devine wants to send Bohemians fans home from Oriel Park tonight with smiles on their faces.

While the new manager is using the remaining games of 2022 to assess his squad ahead of a closed season rebuild, he also wants Bohs to get back to winning ways.

His managerial reign kicked off with a 2-2 draw against Finn Harps at Dalymount Park last week but he wants to go one better tonight against Dundalk.

Tickets for tonight’s game remain on sale and can be purchased here.

Devine said: “I want to see who has the characteristics for when we rebuild but we cannot look down our noses at two games when our supporters are there to see us perform.

“We want to provide the platform for our fans to have a good weekend!

“We haven’t been able to beat Dundalk this season, which is not good enough. We have got to be challenging the top teams.

“Oriel Park can be a notoriously difficult place to go but over the years Bohemians have had a good record there, and we want to get that back.

“Things haven’t gone as well this year as previous years but there are still two games to play for and from my point of view when you represent this club, you have got to give everything to get results.

“That will be no different in Oriel Park. Dundalk are in good form chasing that European place. But we want to see from our players whether they have the characteristics I need for them to be here next season.

“I’m looking forward to the game. I will expect a reaction after what was a relatively poor performance last week but one that was full of determination, full of effort and full of people working hard for one another.

“We need to step up from what we have dished up the last couple of weeks. We need to work harder than the opposition. When you go away from home, you have got to make sure you stay in the game.

“Over the last two games, we have made basic mistakes that have really cost us, so we have to nullify those mistakes.

“But we have also got to be brave and enjoy our football. We want to go and perform well.

“We have to make, first and foremost, ourselves hard to beat, which hasn’t been the case.

“But it is a new day. I want players to show leadership and moral courage in terms of getting on the ball in a difficult venue and trying to play.”

Devine knows he has a big job over the coming months to assemble a squad for 2023 capable of competing with the teams ahead of them this year. Every current player is on trial for the final two games of the season.

He said: “We have got good footballers – there are good players in the team lacking confidence. But it’s a new dawn for the team so they need to put the past behind them and go and show that the club means something to them.

“Pressure is to be embraced. Players have got to enjoy the fact that they are at the top level of Irish football. The pressure that comes with that is a privilege.

“When things have not been going well, it tells you a lot about character and who is going to roll their sleeves up.

“We have some very talented young players too who, over the next two games, will get opportunities.

“I have come down with an open mind and to assess where we are at in terms of the playing side of things.

“That is something that will continue between now and until the end of the season.

“I will be sitting down with all the players seeing what their thoughts are and what my thoughts are. But ultimately my main concern this week is to go and try to win a football match.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are without the injured Jon McCraken, James Talbot, Ryan Burke, Laurenz Dehl, Tyreke Wilson, John O’Sullivan, Chris Lotefa, Johnny Afolabi and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, but Liam Burt is available once more.

Declan Devine: This is the People’s Club – we have to get a team that reflects that

Ahead of his first game in charge of Bohemians, Declan Devine has said that he wants to build a team that reflects its people.

The Derry man, 49, was announced as manager of the men’s first team this day last week, started in the role on Monday and, tonight, he will take his place in the home dugout at Dalymount Park for the first time when Ollie Horgan’s Finn Harps provide the opposition.

Devine said: “I am very privileged to be here as the footballing figurehead of such an amazing club with such history and tradition. This is something that I am extremely proud of, but, as I said already, it’s something that I do not have time to celebrate.

“There is a huge amount of work to do over the coming days and weeks to get a team ready for next season, but we also want to finish this season on a positive note.

“I’ve only been in the door for four days, but I have loved absolutely every angle that the club is coming from. People are stopping me on the street to wish me good luck. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind.

“I’m planning on being here as long as I possibly can. I’m going to surround myself with people who want success. I’m going to surround myself with good people – people who love the club – and I’m going to do everything I possibly can to fill this stadium on a regular basis.

“We have got to make this a really difficult place for everybody to come to and enjoy our success in terms of winning individual games and building towards winning trophies, producing our own players and entertaining our supporters.

“I want that rapport; all as one with the players, the fans, the backroom team, the board, everybody. And we drive this place on to get the success we need.

“I have met people who have the heart and soul of this club in their own hearts, and that is something that really appeals to me and that I can relate to.

“I want passion and the people behind the scenes here have so much passion. I want work ethic and the people behind the scenes here have so much work ethic.

“This is the People’s Club – we have to get a team that reflects that.

“We have to have a team that is ready to fight for every inch out here. We have to have a team that represents the people paying their hard-earned cash and the people doing all these hours behind the scenes. They are the lifeblood of this club.

“But the top of that pyramid is the first team and we have to improve all aspects of the footballing side. I’m here full pelt to work and help everybody make the club a complete success.”

Devine is driven to recapture that work ethic and determination – a hallmark of Bohs teams throughout his predecessor Keith Long’s tenure but that has fallen far short this season – with the ultimate goal of bringing success back to Dalymount.

He said: “We’ve got to strive to bring silverware to this club. We are in a position this year where it hasn’t been good enough; a position in the league that we should never be in.

“I’m here to build a squad over the next year or so that’s really going to compete at the top end of the table.

“You see the investment that some of the clubs at the top are investing in the game at the minute but, for me, it’s about good people; having good people around you, who want to represent this football club and leave everything on the pitch.”

Devine will use the final three games of the season, starting with Harps this evening, to assess this season’s squad ahead of a rebuild in the closed season.

He said: “Right now, all I’m interested in is the next three games. I want to see that we have people here willing to stay here and fight for the jersey, fight for the fans, fight for their careers and be here long term. And if we can do that we can certainly build towards winning silverware.

“There are good lads who have maybe been dragged down a little bit this year and have lost a bit of confidence and lost a lot of self-belief.

“There are very good players here that, yes, we want to keep and we will assess that over the coming weeks.

“But the games and results don’t lie. So I need to look at who wants to stay at this club first, why they want to stay, and also who I want to stay and build my team around.

“I want to play the most attractive style of football that we can but we have got to get the right players to do that. We have got to have good recruitment. We have got to make sure that the players fit into the way that I want to play. We want to entertain, but we have to get the right people in who fit the mold.

“It’s a new dawn in January when we go properly full time. We have got to improve, we have got to get better. We have got to make sure that everybody who is here, whether it be staff or players, buys in 100,000,000%.”

One of those who will give that in spades is prodigal son Keith Buckley, who Devine yesterday announced as his first signing for 2023 on a three-year contract.

Buckley, 30, previously amassed 318 appearances for the first team in all competitions and will come back home this winter after a year abroad in Australia and be reinstated as captain straight away.

Devine added: “I’ve spoken to Keith on numerous occasions over the last week. His appetite, his love and affection for this club is everything I want.

“He’s coming straight in as my captain from today even though he’s in a different country. He is going to be on the WhatsApp groups. He’s going to be talking to the players.

“But look, that’s the type of DNA I want. This club has to mean more than just picking up a wage. It has to be ingrained that it’s about winning.

“Keith Buckley brings that in abundance. To say I’m delighted that he’s going to be here is an understatement. He’s everything that I want in my team.

“I’m absolutely over the moon to have him as my first signing and I think it’s a statement of intent of where we want to go.

“I’ve said we want people who will fight for the club, and there is no better man.”

Please note that while the Jodi Stand is sold out for tonight’s game, tickets for the Des Kelly Stand remain on sale at tickets.bohemians.ie.

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are without the injured Jon McCraken, James Talbot, Ryan Burke, Laurenz Dehl, Tyreke Wilson, John O’Sullivan, Johnny Afolabi and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe, while Chris Lotefa is a doubt.

Declan McDaid and Josh Kerr return from injury, while Jordan Flores is available again following his one-game suspension.

Preview: Bohemians v UCD

Bohemians got back to winning ways in the league against Finn Harps last weekend following their FAI Cup capitulation against Shelbourne – now Rory Feely says Bohs are determined to build on that and finish the year in form.

With little left to play for other than pride, six games remain for what has been a disappointing season.

Tonight Bohs, with a lengthy absentee list of nine players, face UCD with the Students scrapping for survival, one point off the bottom of the table.

Jodi Stand tickets are sold out, but Des Kelly Stand tickets remain and can be purchased online from tickets.bohemians.ie or supporters can pay at the turnstiles.

Goals from Declan McDaid and a wonder strike from Jordan Doherty gave the Gypsies a 2-0 in Ballybofey on Saturday and Feely said: “We got back winning ways.

“Our main goal coming off the week previously against Shelbourne was that we needed performance and hard work, and with that hopefully the result would follow. It did in the end.

“It was a rough first half but much better in the second. We got to play some good football and scored a really good goal.”

 

That FAI Cup quarter-final against Shelbourne was seen as a golden opportunity for Bohs to salvage something from their season, so the manner of the 3-0 defeat against a team that had failed to beat them in four previous attempts this year was all the more galling.

Fans made their feelings known at the full-time whistle, while many others left the ground long before the game finished.

Feely believes that reaction was justified, and that it is up to the team to try win back support with performances on the field.

He said: “The reaction from supporters was deserved. The performance against Shels was by no means good enough.

“There was nothing we could look back at from that game that was positive. Nothing went right. The work-rate wasn’t there which is something we pride ourselves on.

“The fans’ reaction was justified. We had to react to that going up to Finn Harps. That was the only thing in our minds.

“We wanted to try and redeem ourselves, to ourselves as well. Coming off that pitch embarrassed, we had to change our mindset.”

The remaining six games will determine whether they have succeeded to do that.

Feely added: “All we can do now is try to keep the pressure on the teams above us and try to move up the table that way.

“UCD is a must-win game that we are expected to win. We have six games left to prove to ourselves our own ability. We know each other well enough now, we should be clicking.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are without Jon McCraken, James Talbot, Ryan Burke, Laurenz Dehl, Tyreke Wilson, James Clarke, Liam Burt, Johnny Afolabi and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe.

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