“We’ve stopped any talk of Europe among the players until after the final”

ENDA McGUILL CUP FINAL
Tuesday September 4 2018, Richmond Park, 7.30pm
St Patrick’s Athletic v Bohemians
Admission: €5 and free for U16s

Tomorrow marks a big day for the Bohemians U19s.

First, Craig Sexton’s side will find out who they will play in the UEFA Youth League this season.

Then they travel to Richmond Park for the final of the Enda McGuill Cup at 7.30pm. Admission is €5 and free for U16s.

U19 league champions last year, Bohs qualified for the Europe by the skin of their teeth.

The UEFA Youth League format is split in two – the Champions League Path and Domestic Champions Path.

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The Gypsies needed all three of the remaining Champions League play-off games last Wednesday to go their way for Ireland to qualify through the Domestic Champions Path. Qualification was looking unlikely until Red Bull Salzburg squandered a 2-0 lead to lose out to Red Star Belgrade on away goals.

Former Bohemians goalkeeper Sexton said: “When we found out that we’d be in Europe, the first priority was to try keep the lads focused on tomorrow’s game.

“Obviously we were all absolutely delighted to qualify but we’ve stopped any talk of Europe among the players until after the final. But it’s great for the team and for the club as a whole too.

“Initially I thought we needed Red Bull Salzburg to win so I was cheering them on in the first half until I was put right! Thankfully the results just about went our way.”

Bohs will be in Group 2 of the Domestic Champions Path at tomorrow’s draw. That means they will play one of Chelsea (ENG), Anderlecht (BEL), FC Admira (AUT), Midtjylland (DEN), Elfsborg (SWE), Molde (NOR) or KR (ISL).

The draw takes place from 1pm Irish time. First round first and second legs are due to be played Wednesday October 3 and Wednesday October 24 respectively. The draw for the second round will also take place tomorrow.

Sexton said: “We don’t have a preference about who we’d like to play really.

“Obviously the likes of Chelsea would probably see a massive crowd in Dalymount but then from a team point of view, it would be good for the players to maybe take on a team from further afield and experience something different. But we’ve an open mind about whoever we face.”

Before Sexton and his players can start thinking of Europe, however, they’ve the short trip across town to face St Pat’s and with the Saints top of the Northern Division of the U19 league, they are expecting a tough challenge.

Sexton said: “We’ve only played St Pat’s once this season and they’ve beaten us, they’re six points ahead of us in the division and they’re at home. They will be favourites.

“When we played them at IT Blanchardstown in May, St Pat’s scored twice in the last seven minutes to win 3-1. It was a tight game up until then. We’ve had good battles with St Pat’s in recent seasons and I expect it will be another tight game tomorrow.

“It’s a final, a one-off game so anything can happen. We will be going there determined and focused.”

While silverware would be a welcome added bonus, Sexton is clear about what the objective is at this stage of player development.

The expansion of the national leagues to underage levels in recent seasons has seen League of Ireland clubs take an interest in developing players from a younger age than ever before.

Bohs’ efforts have been bolstered by joining forces with St Kevin’s Boys. They play under the joint umbrella of Bohs-SKB at U15 and U17 level so far and at U13 level in the near future, providing a clear player development pathway from youth level to senior level.

Sexton added: “For us, the priority is developing players to a level that they’re ready for Keith Long and the first team.

“We’ve had Danny Grant, Andy Lyons and Paddy Kirk all play for the first team in the league this season.

“We’ve others knocking on the door too – Steven Nolan, who made his first-team debut last season, and others like Promise Omochere too.

“We want to develop players the right way. Getting players to a good enough standard to play in the first team is our No 1 priority.

“This is the U19s’ third final in three seasons so far – the Shield in 2016, the league last year and now the Enda McGuill Cup – so we feel we have had a group that have developed a mindest and togetherness.

“They’ve done exceptionally well and the season doesn’t hinge on tomorrow’s game. They can be extremely proud of their efforts and results over the course of the year so far.

“There’s great belief within the squad, a determination to do well and to improve further.”

“ROBBIE’S A GREAT PROSPECT AND WANTS TO DO WELL”

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday August 30 2018, The Brandywell, 7.45pm

Bohemians travel to the Brandywell tomorrow looking to end a ten-game losing streak against Derry City.

It will the first of two trips to the Maiden City in the coming weeks after the clubs were paired together at Monday’s draw for the Irish Daily Mail FAI Cup quarter-finals.

That tie is still yet to be scheduled as the international call-ups of Derry City players means they are unable to play the preferred date of Friday September 8.

That means the Gypsies will proceed with their Irn Bru Cup tie away to Peterhead in Scotland on Saturday September 8 instead.

But Bohs aren’t getting ahead of themselves.

Before they can think about progressing in either of those cup competitions, there is the small matter of trying to end their barren run against the Candystripes tomorrow.

Form against Kenny Shiels’ side over the past three seasons means the Gypsies will go into the game fully aware of the challenge that awaits them.

But they can proceed with some confidence too having extended their recent run of good form last week with a disciplined victory away to Galway United in the FAI Cup.

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That win made it five wins from their last six games – losing only to Dundalk – and having kept five clean sheets while scoring 24 goals in the process.

Long said: “I thought we were very good down in Galway, my only complaint was we could have scored more.

“The application of the players was spot on. Galway were a different proposition to what we’re used to. They defended deep and that allowed us a lot of possession.

“We created a lot of chances – we hit the crossbar, missed a penalty – so we were pleased with the performance overall.

“We were all delighted to progress. It’s obviously a competition we all want to do well in. But that’s last week, it’s in the past, we’ve another game to try win now.”

Long has strengthened his squad ahead of the trip north with the addition of Robbie McCourt.

The 20-year-old, a product of St Kevin’s, joins the club having spent the last three years with West Brom.

Long said: “Robbie’s a very good footballer. He can play centre-back and at left-back but I’ve brought him to the club primarily believing he can operate as a defensive midfielder for us.

“He’s a very talented player and was much sought-after when he was at St Kevin’s before going to West Brom.

“It’ll obviously take time for a player coming home from England to adapt to first-team football, players can find that transition more difficult than they had anticipated.

“But obviously we hope he clicks quickly – we don’t have as many games as you would like for a player to kick in.

“He’s great prospect and wants to do well. He’s a local lad too, from Glasnevin. He’s a technical player, very good on the ball and we’re looking forward to working with him.”

Another recent addition to the squad, Ryan Masterson, made his first-team debut as a late substitute in last Friday’s game in Galway.

Long added: “Ryan has pace and power. He gives us something different in attack.

“Again he’s joined up with us at a time of season where you’re running out of games to impress but he’s been excellent in training and has given us something to think about.”

TEAM NEWS

Cristian Magerusan (hamstring) is ruled out. Ryan Swan (cruciate) remains out.

“If you take things for granted in a cup competition, you can very quickly find yourself out of it”

GALWAY UTD v BOHEMIANS
FAI Cup Rd 2
Friday August 24 2018, Eamonn Deacy Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long says there is no room for complacency if you want to progress in cup competitions.

Bohemians are on a high after last week’s 1-0 Dublin Derby win away to Shamrock Rovers.

But no trophies are handed out for winning the Dublin Derby. While supporters lapped it up, the team’s celebrations were brief and measured as they knuckled down in preparation for tomorrow’s FAI Cup tie away to Galway United.

Long’s men are a team in form, however, and will travel west in confidence having won four of their last five games – losing only to the country’s form team Dundalk – and having kept four clean sheets while scoring 22 goals in the process.

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Long said: “The upturn in our form is no coincidence. We’ve been able to plan and recover properly playing games Friday-Friday as opposed to earlier in the season when we were playing Friday-Monday-Friday.

“Being able to plan for games consistently is very important and it’s played a big part in our results.

“We’ve been on a good run recently but tomorrow is a very important game for the club and it’s important we maintain those standards if we want to progress in the cup.”

The high tempo and energy-sapping nature of the Dublin Derby has at times in recent years seen Bohs struggle to reach the same heights in subsequent games but Long is confident this week’s recovery and preparations will ensure that the Gypsies will be well-primed.

He said: “I don’t think that’s going to be a factor for us.

“We were up in Derry on a Monday after the last time beating Rovers whereas this time we’ve recovered well on the Saturday and got back into our normal training schedule for the week.

“We had to win for our own reasons last week too – it wasn’t just because it was a derby. We wanted to put some distance between ourselves and the play-off spot and we managed to do so.

“Everyone was obviously in good spirits in training this week but everyone knows last week is in the past now. Tomorrow is a different game and a very important one.”

Bohs notched up a stunning 7-0 win in the last round in Ferrycarrig Park but before that game Long warned that “we can’t go looking ahead dreaming of a cup run without overcoming Wexford first.”

And Long and his troops will travel to Eamonn Deacy Park tomorrow in very much the same frame of mind – First Division sides Drogheda United and Longford Town claiming the scalps of Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers respectively in the previous round a timely reminder to proceed with caution.

Long said: “If you take things for granted in a cup competition, you can very quickly find yourself out of it.

“Galway United is a club geared towards being a Premier Division club. They have some excellent players, excellent facilities and an excellent pitch.

“They will have been happy with a home draw so we will be going down there taking absolutely nothing for granted.

“Anything can happen in a one-off cup game. The onus is on us to go down there and impose our game-plan on Galway.

“They’ll have a big support behind them but I think we will too.

“This is a competition everyone at the club wants to do well in and know they’ll be right behind us down there. We’re looking forward to it.”

TEAM NEWS

Kevin Devaney (septum) misses out. Rob Cornwall (hamstring) returns. Ryan Swan (cruciate) remains sidelined.

“We’re going to Tallaght, positive, confident and determined to do well”

SHAMROCK ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday April 17 2018, Tallaght Stadium, 8pm

Keith Long says Bohemians will travel to Tallaght tomorrow positive and eager to continue their recent run of form.

Bohs are looking to extend their unbeaten Dublin Derby run against Shamrock Rovers tomorrow to five games.

But that will be easier said than done – the Gypsies’ 2-1 in Tallaght Stadium may have been the second time in a row that they have won at the venue but only the third since Rovers moved there in 2009.

There is a great sense of anticipation for these games but Long refuses to get caught up in that.

He said: “It’s the Dublin Derby so there’s a sense of occasion for supporters but for us as a team the most important thing is getting points and improving our league position.

“We want to build on the results we’ve had and move up the table.

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“We’ve struggled for consistency this season but we’ve a good run in the last few weeks and it’s important we try continue that and push on.”

Since a demoralising 3-0 reversal at home to Sligo Rovers a month ago, Bohs have dusted themselves down and earned deserved plaudits for three high-scoring victories since.

They have beaten Bray Wanderers and Limerick 6-0 and 5-0 respectively with a decent performance in a 2-0 defeat away to the league’s form team Dundalk sandwiched in between.

And last Friday they reached new heights by beating First Division Wexford 7-0 in the FAI Cup.

But continuing that good form against a Rovers side hurting from their exit from the cup against Drogheda United last Friday presents a fresh challenge.

Long added: “We’ve played well in recent weeks and we want to able to continue to do that against stronger opposition.

“The most pleasing aspect of those performances was the determination and confidence we showed in our play.

“Rovers are obviously a step up from the opposition we’ve beaten recently and they had been in good form up until their cup game last week.

“But we’re going to Tallaght, positive, confident and determined to do well.”

TEAM NEWS

Rob Cornwall (hamstring) remains a doubt. Ian Morris (back) returns. Ryan Swan (cruciate) remains sidelined.

“We can’t go looking ahead dreaming of a cup run without overcoming Wexford first”

WEXFORD FC v BOHEMIAN FC
IRISH DAILY MAIL FAI CUP Rd 1
Friday August 10 2018, Ferrycarrig Park, 8pm

Keith Long says Bohemians need look no further than the league’s form team to realise the potential pitfalls of cup football.

Dundalk, on the back of winning 11 Premier Division games in a row, travelled to St Colman’s Park on Monday where nobody gave Cobh Ramblers a chance in their EA Sports Cup semi-final.

But the Lilywhites came away empty-handed after Stephen Henderson’s Ramblers proved that the romance of cup football is very much alive as their famous 1-0 win secured a place in a senior cup final for the first time in the club’s history.

There was a sense of relief among Bohs fans that their opponents at the first hurdle of this year’s FAI Cup were not another Premier Division side.

Keith Long’s side haven’t had much luck with FAI Cup draws in recent years – they’ve played four ties in the past three years, all of which have been against Premier Division opposition.

As fans covet a much sought-after cup run, Long and his players travel south to Ferrycarrig Park as strong favourites but he insists they are looking no further than tomorrow’s opposition.

He said: “We can’t go looking ahead dreaming of a cup run without overcoming Wexford first.

“You only have to look at Cobh beating Dundalk on Monday to know the dangers of cup football.

“You have to give the opposition the respect they deserve and prepare correctly. We’ll be going down having prepared for this game professionally as we would any other.”

But while Long has understandably urged caution, he has fair reason to be confident too.

Bohs have found their scoring touch in recent weeks with 6-0 and 5-0 wins over Bray Wanderers and Limerick respectively.

Long said: “It wasn’t just the scorelines that were pleasing but the overall manner of those performances.

“We had a guile about our play to try get ahead in games and smelt blood and went for it when it was appropriate to do so.

“We were ruthless and clinical but disciplined in our play also. The attitude of the players was spot on.

“Goals were spread around the team which was pleasing to see. Dinny Corcoran is obviously our No 9, our talisman. But we’ve had others in various positions chipping in too which is necessary.

“We’ve the likes of Danny Grant enjoying a good spell for us and Cristian Magerusan is knocking on the door too after coming back from injury set-backs.”

Grant and Magerusan were on the scoresheet for the Bohemians U19s on Tuesday night as they beat Limerick 4-1 away in the Enda McGuill Cup semi-final.

The other two goalscorers on the night – captain Andy Lyons and Steven Nolan – have also featured for the first team and that victory set up a Dublin derby Enda McGuill Cup final against St Patrick’s Athletic at Richmond Park on Tuesday September 4.

Long added: “It’s important that we are challenging at U19 level and have players coming through our partnership U17 and U15 teams with St Kevin’s too.

“We’ve been able to bring Andy through in recent weeks when Derek Pender has been suspended and he did very well at right-back.

“We want to be able to afford them the opportunity in the first team but it has to be right for the balance of the first team too and it was on that occasion.

“I’m pleased that we are in a position now that some of our U19s are really asking a lot of questions of the players in our first team.

“It’s a positive situation to be in. Our U19s train alongside the first team at Blanchardstown so we regularly move players across to first-team training to see where they’re at.

“It’s good for the culture at the club for our underage players to see there’s a pathway there and it’s important for their development coming up against experienced players in training too.”

TEAM NEWS

Rob Cornwall (hamstring) looks set to miss out again, while Ian Morris (back) is a doubt. Ryan Swan (cruciate) remains out.

Website by Simon Alcock