PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS

SSE Airtricity League
Monday June 21 2021
Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Exclusively live on LOITV

The return of supporters to Dalymount Park on Friday night meant so much to Bohemians manager Keith Long and his players.

But having had a reminder of what it is like to be roared on from the Jodi Stand, Long shares the frustration that only 100 more will be able to attend the Dublin derby against league leaders Shamrock Rovers.

The Gypsies turned on the style in Friday’s emphatic 5-0 win over fourth-placed Drogheda United to send the 100 Bohs fans in attendance home happy.

Frustratingly, the gradual return of crowds to games has been a long time coming – the last time fans, other than a small number of essential club staff, officials and volunteers, attended a game at Dalymount Park was the March 6 2020 win against Shelbourne.

100 more – 90 members and 10 season ticket holders – will be in attendance for the first Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers Dublin derby to be held at Dalymount since the onset of the pandemic 15 months ago.

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The two meetings between the sides at Tallaght Stadium since then were both very close affairs from which Bohs emerged empty-handed.

Daniel Lafferty’s fourth-minute goal in September was enough to give the home side all three points.

And back in April, a bewildering refereeing decision at 1-1 when Bohs were in the ascendancy saw Rovers awarded a penalty from which they scored the winner, while James Finnerty was shown a red card for the same incident.

Dougie Bolger was the first fan in on Friday – Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Home fans in attendance in Dalymount will be hoping their vocal support can help their side over the line this time around.

Those lucky 100 aside, all other Bohemians will have to contend themselves from supporting the team from home on a stream once more.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder and Long, his staff and players, have been all too aware of those fans every time they have taken to the pitch since football returned behind closed doors last August.

Long said: “It’s such a pity we won’t have more of a crowd in behind us for this considering the atmosphere the derby creates in Dalymount.

“But it was brilliant to have some fans back in the ground, even if it’s only 100 or so.

“They got right behind the lads on Friday, even during the warm-ups. It makes a huge difference having that support during the game and after it as well.

“The boys put on a bit of a display for them as well with a 5-0 win so we are pleased with that.

“Even though it is a limited number for now, it means a lot having them back in the stadium. We have really missed them.

“Dalymount is a special place to play football but what makes it even more special is when you have fans there; when the Jodi Stand is rammed with supporters right behind the team.

Georgie Kelly jumped top of the league’s goalscoring charts – Luke O’Riordan

“We have a team now that can excite supporters. We have a team with real talent and I think supporters will have enjoyed some of the performances we have put in here at home recently, so hopefully it won’t be too long before we can have more inside the ground.”

Long is right to say his side put on a display – Georgie Kelly grabbed the headlines with his stunning and deserved four-goal haul putting him top of the league’s goalscoring charts with 10.

But Bohs were purring in the middle of the park too, particularly in the second half after a more testing opening 45 despite going in at the break with a firm two-goal lead.

Ross Tierney was only on the pitch 69 minutes but in that time helped himself to four assists, propelling him to joint-top of the division assists chart with seven.

Still only 20, Tierney has been a standout performer this season having come through St Kevin’s, the Bohs-SKB U17s and the Bohemians U19s.

His replacement on Friday, 16-year-old debutant Jamie Mullins, will hope to follow a similar development path having started with St Kevin’s with their U9s and having won the league with the Bohs-SKB U17s last season under Derek Pender. He certainly did not look out of place on Friday.


Skipper Keith Buckley welcomes Jamie Mullins on for his debut – Stephen Burke

Long said: “Georgie got four goals on Friday and he was full value for them. His second goal was particularly important for us because Drogheda are a good side, they’ve been playing really well, and we needed that second goal.

“We certainly didn’t have it all our own way in the first half – Drogheda created chances. But we got ourselves 2-0 in front at half-time.

“We addressed a few things at half-time and we went out determined that we would get the next goal as that would be really important – and we went out and got it in 20 or 30 seconds.

“It was a brilliant goal by Liam Burt after some great work by Ross, who was immense in the build-up.

“Ross was fantastic throughout. He’s a great kid with incredible energy. He’s only 20 and still improving too, so he can only get better.”

 


Ross Tierney slips the ball through for Georgie Kelly’s opener – Stephen Burke

While the attacking players got all of the attention, Long was happy too with the side’s performance at the back.

Much has been talked about Bohs’ habit of conceding late goals – turning wins into draws and draws into defeats – too often at times this season, including the previous game against Derry City where Bohs conceded in the 93rd minute having taken the lead nine minutes previously through a wonder strike from Ali Coote.

Those lapses in concentration are at the back of everyone’s mind, so keeping a clean sheet was perhaps as pleasing as the goals scored at the other end.

One man central to that defensive display was Ciarán Kelly, who really has had to bide his time to break into the team since his arrival ahead of the 2020 season.

Last year he was a victim of the truncated football schedule necessitated by Covid-19 that cut the number of league games in half, and abandoned other opportunities for players to stake their claim, such as the EA Sports Cup and Leinster Senior Cup.

In all, he managed just 93 minutes of league football for Bohs in 2020 and an appearance in the FAI Cup against First Division Cabinteely.

Rather than take that disappointing return to heart, the former St Pat’s man seized the opportunity of a three-month loan spell with Ballymena United. He became a key man for David Jeffrey’s side in that time, featuring in 12 games and scoring once.

Since returning to Dalymount Park in January, injuries to Rob Cornwall and James Finnerty have seen the 22-year-old afforded his first extended run in the team. He has featured in 11 of Bohs’ 16 league games this season, starting nine of those, including the last five in a row.

Ciarán Kelly battles for possession with Chris Lyons - Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

Long added: “It is important that we build a platform from the back where we don’t concede. We have dropped too many points late in games this year.

“We feel we should have more points than we have and there’s no doubt that the key to that changing is keeping clean sheets.

“Ciarán can play his part in that. It’s a good news story when you persevere and that when you get setbacks, you don’t roll over.

“Ciarán has come into the team and he has been really good. He hasn’t had it all his own way here at all – he has had to be very patient.

“It’s been tough for Ciarán at times but he’s come through it, he’s been resilient and he’s learning. He’s constantly improving and he’s getting the rewards for his performances now.

“He’s been quite consistent for us since coming into the team. He has shown that work ethic and tenacity to get his rewards when a chance to play came his way.”

TEAM NEWS

James Finnerty, who pulled out of the squad late on Friday due to tonsillitis, is available again as is Promise Omochere (quad).

Stephen McGuinness (arm) is rated 50/50, while Stephen Mallon, who shipped a heavy knock late on Friday night, will be assessed again ahead of the game.

Preview: BOHEMIANS v DROGHEDA UNITED

SSE Airtricity League
Friday June 18 2021
Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Live on LOITV.ie

One of the first names on Keith Long’s teamsheet since making his debut in 2017, Rob Cornwall believes he has a battle on his hands to win back his place in the heart of the Bohemians defence.

The club vice-captain was forced off with an ankle injury in the 2-1 defeat away to St Patrick’s Athletic four weeks ago and has seen Rory Feely and Ciarán Kelly impress in the three games since from which Bohs have taken seven points.

Cornwall, 26, said: “I’m hoping I can get back into the team as soon as possible but I can’t have any complaints as the lads have done really well as we are unbeaten in the three games I’ve missed.

“Rory and Ciarán have been excellent in defence. I’m particularly happy for Ciarán as he has had to bide his time to get a run in the team but he has shown what he is capable of.

“It will be difficult for either myself or James Finnerty to get back into the team given their form but that competition for places is exactly what you want.”

In his absence, Bohs turned on the style in a 5-1 win over Dundalk and a 3-0 victory over Waterford.

But they were left kicking themselves last Friday when they once again conceded a goal deep into injury-time to hand a share of the spoils to Derry City after an Ali Coote wonder strike had given the Gypsies the lead on 83 minutes.

It was a bitterly frustrating end to the game for Long’s side, who had hoped they had stamped out that frustrating habit of conceding late goals that have turned wins into draws and draws into defeats.

Cornwall said: “It is hard to put your finger on why that has happened four or five times now this season. We know we have to be better than that.

“The performances are definitely there. We need to trust in ourselves more and believe in our game-plan, but we have to cut out those errors.

“We have a young team – I’m one of the eldest at 26 – but we need to learn and adapt quickly. We’re halfway through the season now and we are gelling well in so many ways, but we have to cut out those mistakes.”

Last time out against tomorrow’s opposition Drogheda United was a similar story – a stunning team move put away by Liam Burt and an otherwise excellent performance was undone in the 93rd minute when Bohs conceded from a corner.

Cornwall said: “Drogheda have already shown us what they are capable of. Their result against Sligo last week is further proof that they are a very good side.

“We should have won our last game against them – we had a lot of possession too – but Drogheda never gave up and were right at it right until the end of the game to get something out of it.

“They are having a great season, particularly for a newly-promoted team. They have a good mix of youth and experience not unlike ourselves. So we know we have to be right at it to get a result.”

The Europa Conference League draw at the start of the week pitted Bohs against Icelandic side Stjarnan next month but Cornwall isn’t thinking too far ahead.

He said: “I know it is a cliche to say we are only looking at our next game but it’s the truth.

“We have a very busy few weeks of games ahead and we want to move up the table – we can’t afford to be looking too far ahead.”

While frustratingly, for the second season running, Bohemians fans will be unable to travel abroad to support their team in that European qualifier, there is some sense that we are entering the twilight stage of the pandemic with the moderate return of some supporters to home games.

90 members and 10 season ticket holders will attend tomorrow’s game – the first time fans have been able to attend since our last game pre-Covid-19 against Shelbourne in March 2020.

Cornwall added: “It’s such a relief to have some fans back. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have more in as well.

“Since returning to play football last August, it has been such a strange experience playing in empty stadiums.

“Our fans mean the world to us – there has always been a strong bond between the team and supporters in my time with the club.

“We just can’t wait to have them behind us again. It will give everyone in the team a huge lift.

“We know there’ll only be a small number in the stands initially but I’ve no doubt they will make themselves heard.”

TEAM NEWS

Bastien Héry (calf) and Conor Levingston (wisdom teeth) return but Promise Omochere (quad) remains out.

PREVIEW: DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday June 11 2021
Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, 7.45pm
Live on LOITV.ie

Stephen Mallon had to bide his time for his first runout in the red and black of Bohemians but now he has had a taste for it, he is keen to make up for lost time.

The Belfast man was a closed season arrival in January from Sheffield United having spent last year on loan with tonight’s opposition. But he suffered a cruel blow in pre-season when he fractured his metatarsal.

He finally made his bow with a 15-minute cameo appearance in Bohs’ 3-0 win over Waterford a fortnight ago as the League of Ireland season reached its halfway point.

The 22-year-old said: “It has been a tough few months. Obviously when you arrive at a new club, you are really keen to impress early on so to get an injury in pre-season that rules you out for so long was hard to take.

“I just had to knuckle down and work hard with Remy Tang, our conditioning and fitness coach, and the physios to get back as soon as I could.

“It was great to get back on the pitch again. It will take four or five games for me to get back my march sharpness as there is only so much you can do when you are out injured – you cannot replicate what it is like playing.

“But it was a huge relief to finally get my first game under my belt. Hopefully I will get more opportunities now and push on.”

Mallon might find breaking into the team more difficult now than he might have done had he been available at the start of the season.

The pacy former Ireland U21 international was tipped to be one of Bohs’ key men this season but in his absence, after a stop-start beginning to the season, his housemates, Scottish duo Liam Burt and Ali Coote, have found real form on the flanks over the past month or so.

His rivalry with his two fellow wingers, with whom they share a house with Georgie Kelly, is very much a healthy one where they want the very best for one another.

Mallon said: “There’s no bitterness! There is a good, healthy competition. We keep pushing ourselves to be the best that we can.

“I get on really well with the lads I live with, we are all very close. We all want the very best for one another.

“The team had a bit of a slow start but sometimes that happens when you have so many new faces. It was going to take time to gel but the lads have shown what they are capable of.

“Ali and Liam have really clicked in the last month or so and I’m delighted for them both particularly as I live with them and have become good friends as a result.

“Them being so in form can only be good for me too as it makes me strive to be the best version of myself that I can be as that is the only way I will get a chance to get into the team.

“It’s good living with the three lads as we all have similar experiences – living in a new place away from home.

“But the Dublin lads, and the players who were at the club from before, have all been so good to us too. From day one, the players, the coaches and everyone at the club have been so welcoming to all of us.

“It is the perfect platform for us to try to push on together. There’s a great group of players, and we have been made to feel appreciated by everyone at the club.”

Given the form of Burt and Coote, tonight Mallon is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench against his former club, for whom he scored against Bohs in the Brandywell last season.

Mallon added: “Derry have beaten us already this season so we know we have to be right at it to get a result.

“I am looking forward to it, I have a lot of respect for the club and they gave me an opportunity last season.

“We are particularly looking forward to this one as this will be one of the first games with some fans back at games, which everyone is looking forward to seeing, particularly at Dalymount.”

TEAM NEWS

Tyreke Wilson returns from suspension.

Bastién Hery (calf) is likely to miss out while Promise Omochere (quad) is rated 50-50.

PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v WATERFORD

BOHEMIANS v WATERFORD
SSE Airtricity League
Saturday May 29 2021
Dalymount Park Park, 4pm
Live on WatchLOI.ie

A gut-wrenching and undeserved injury-time defeat against St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday spurred Bohemians on to deliver a five-star stylish victory against Dundalk on Monday.

The aim now is to match those heights consistently.

Waterford, who appointed Marc Bircham as their new manager just over a fortnight ago, are the opposition at Dalymount Park this afternoon in our final game before the brief summer break.

The visitors currently prop up the league table but the Gypsies will not be taking that for granted in the knowledge they have not beaten them in the five previous meetings in Dalyer since the Blues returned to the Premier Division in 2018.

Manager Keith Long said: “Hopefully we can follow up Monday’s win with a repeat performance.

“Waterford will be better prepared with Marc having more time on the training ground with his players, so we will have to produce a really good display and be ready for the challenge to get a result.

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“On Monday, we deservedly put a number on Dundalk and we were delighted with how clinical the team were on the night.

“It would have been easy for the team to lament the concession of a late goal in Inchicore last Friday when a superb team performance did not translate into points on the board, so in that context, our performance was really excellent and full of character.”

Georgie Kelly was the man of the moment as he went home with the match ball after a perfect hat-trick – left foot, right foot and header – in the 5-1 win against his former club.

Long said: “It is fair to say that Georgie needed the confidence boost and despite his overall performances being very good it is always good when your striker gets on the scoresheet.

“I think the reaction of the dressing room after the game when Georgie came in with the match ball spoke volumes as to the esteem he is held within the group and I hope Georgie will continue to grow in a Bohs jersey.”

Both the result and classy style of play were all the more pleasing given key men in midfield and the heart of defence were missing.

Long said: “Equally as pleasing was the team performance minus our captain Keith Buckley and vice-captain Rob Cornwall through injuries.

“To a man, the boys stepped up and despite whatever difficulties Dundalk may be experiencing at this time they are still a squad full of quality players so nothing should detract from what our boys did on the night.

“Rory Feely was majestic at centre=back and, alongside Ciarán Kelly who was also excellent, restricted Dundalk attacking threats to a minimum.

“Andy Lyons was superb at right-full and fully deserves his Ireland U21 call-up along with Dawson Devoy, whose performances defy his tender years and his development as a footballer of real substance is there for all to see.

“Conor Levingston coming into the engine room after a period out of the team again epitomised the collective spirit within the group.

“It can be difficult to come in and perform after a lengthy lay-off but I thought Conor was fantastic and again reminds us of the quality he possesses and what he offers the team.

“An unassuming character, Conor is made of the right stuff. Ali Coote and Liam Burte continue to improve and show their qualities. The lads have real quality on the ball, and both have the ability to create and score goals which is a real asset for the team.”

Bohs may once again be without senior men Buckley and Cornwall who are both rated as doubtful, while Tyreke Wilson, who took the captain’s armband in their absence and score Bohs’ second on Monday with a thunderous free-kick, sits this one out as a result of the two yellow cards he picked up in the game.

Long said: “The only blemish on the night was the dismissal of Tyreke for two yellow cards having scored a brilliant free-kick and captaining the team on the night.

“I can understand why the referee deems the first tackle a yellow but for me that was a good, strong challenge and if we are taking that out of the game we might as well become basketball or some other non-contact sport.

“I’m not proportioning blame to the ref as he has to adhere to the Laws of the game. The second yellow for a tug on the jersey is very harsh but again the referees are dictated to by the laws. There is no allowance for commonsense in such scenarios and we just have to accept it and move on.

“A silver lining in this for us is the fact that we have Anto Breslin chomping at the bit to play and his contribution coming on for the sacrificed Ross Tierney shows you what type of character he is. Anto has never let us down, in fact he has been brilliant since he arrived at the club and was excellent when called upon and will continue to be a very important member of this team.”

TEAM NEWS

Tyreke Wilson is suspended while Keith Buckley (leg), Rob Cornwall (ankle) and James Finnerty (wrist) are doubts.

Stephen Mallon (metatarsal) could be named in the squad for the first time.

Preview: Bohemians v Dundalk

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
SSE Airtricity League
Monday May 24 2021
Dalymount Park, 5.45pm
Live on WatchLOI.ie

Bohemians manager Keith Long has said his side are on the right path but need to start showing a ruthless streak when opportunities arise to turn good performances into points on the board on a consistent basis.

Bohs showed such a streak in the 4-0 win over Finn Harps and 2-0 victory against Longford Town.

But against St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday, that ruthlessness eluded them as they hit the woodwork twice – from a penalty and free-kick – and passed up other goal-scoring opportunities despite some excellent play in the middle of the park.

Having fallen behind with 15 minutes remaining, Bohs felt they had earned a share of the spoils their performance deserved when Dawson Devoy equalised from the spot in the 90th minute.

With five minutes on, Bohs went in search of a winner but instead shot themselves in the foot with the concession of a late penalty that handed victory to the hosts.

This evening they will have to dust themselves down from that disappointment against a Dundalk side buoyed by victory against league leaders Shamrock Rovers on Friday in which they showed some of the swagger that has eluded them for much of this season.

Long said: “Football can be unforgiving at times. We are a good team with good players who care for this club more than people will ever know.

“Our performance against St Pat’s certainly warranted more and if we continue to perform to the levels we have shown in recent weeks, we will win more games.

“There is no doubt we need to manage games better and be ruthless when opportunities arise, but we are on the right path.”

TEAM NEWS

Stephen Mallon (metatarsal) is out while James Finnerty (wrist) is a doubt.

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