Preview: Drogheda United v Bohemians

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday April 21 2023
Weavers Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine has demanded intensity from start to finish from his Bohemians players against Drogheda United tomorrow night and says their eyes are wide open about how tough a game it will be.

Last time out, Bohs lost 3-2 at home to St Patrick’s Athletic. A cracking strike from Adam McDonnell had given Devine’s men the lead in the 14th minute.

But they were carved open far too easily in a crazy 12-minute spell where they conceded three times before going down to 10 men on the stroke of half-time when Jordan Flores was given his marching orders.

Despite that mountain to climb, they had the Saints on the ropes in the second half and will have been disappointed not to have got anything out of the game having pulled one back through substitute Dean Williams.

Now Devine wants to see that second-half performance replicated for the full 90 minutes when his side travel to Weavers Park tomorrow to face a Drogheda side who, like Bohs, have lost just three of their opening 10 games.

Devine said: “We played at our levels in the second half. I don’t think there was anything surprising about that, that has to be the starting point.

“That has to be the intensity we play at all the time whether it’s 10 men or 11 men or first half or second half. So the second half was pleasing, but it has to be the norm from the start.

“That kind of intensity has brought us a lot of joy this year. We have to understand that they are the levels we have to reach for every minute of every game.

“There were a lot of positives. The 15-minute period in the first half where we conceded the three goals has to be a once-off.

“It is something we have discussed and is something we have to take on board; that is the nature of this league. If you lose concentration, then it will cause you problems.

“We have hopefully learned from that. We have experienced it, and we have to make sure we don’t let it happen again.”

Despite his frustration with that first half performance, he is full of praise for their positive start to the season, which sees them four points clear at the top of the table, and is thoroughly enjoying working with the group of players he has assembled.

Devine said: “We have to understand that we are such a new group that there will be rollercoasters; highs and lows. We are all finding out about each other, and it has been very, very positive.

“I love coming in everyday and working with this group. But we are going to have days where we have to do ugly stuff well.

“Things aren’t always going to be plain sailing, and when it’s not plain sailing, we have to have that ability to dig in and grind out.

“These boys fill me with energy, they fill me with happiness. They are so together. I know they will be hurting more than anybody about last week.

“But when we win a game, we put it to the back of our minds. And when we lose a game, we put it to the back of our minds.

“After we discussed it, it was put to the back of our minds. Now we are completely focused on going to Drogheda and trying to win.

“We have a lot of boys pushing to start. We have boys eager to play whether they start or whether they come on.

“We have had 11 different goalscorers in all competitions this year in 11 games. That in itself shows you the strength right through our squad and our ability to get goals from anywhere on the pitch. That is really pleasing, but we have to keep going.”

But that will be easier said than done against Kevin Doherty’s Drogheda side who have once again put it up to teams this season.

Devine added: “They are a very good side. They are a side that have impressed me this year. Even when we played them at home, we were fortunate to come out on the right side of the result.

“Especially at home, Kevin will have them really well drilled. They have a lot of experience in their team in Gary Deegan and Ryan Brennan. They have added a lot of exciting players, and Darragh Markey is a very talented boy.

“They are working really hard to get results, and have been really impressive in the opening series of games.

“We have discussed where we think we can have joy, and we have also discussed where they can hurt us.

“But we are going in with our eyes wide open – we are facing a difficult team at a difficult venue.”


Ali Coote (thigh) and James Akintunde (hamstring) are doubts. Jordan Flores is suspended.

Preview: Bohemians v St Patrick’s Athletic

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday April 14 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine believes his players have the belief and desire to build on their positive start to the season.

Bohemians bounced back from Good Friday’s Dublin derby defeat to Shamrock Rovers, with Dean Williams’ penalty enough to give his side victory against Derry City in the Brandywell on Easter Monday.

That win extended Bohs’ lead at the top of the table to six points and made it seven wins from their opening nine games.

Devine said: “We have a really tight group, who are really close together. They came in on Saturday morning and the defeat was still hurting as you would expect.

“But I think they guys knew we had underperformed. We let the game affect us mentally, and we just wanted to learn from that, get up to Derry on the Monday and show what we are capable of.

“We didn’t defend well against Shamrock Rovers. We attacked them well at certain points but we did not defend well enough.

“Our willingness to defend was something we have been good at this year and that’s what was disappointing in the Rovers game.

“We spoke about that, freshened things up with four new faces for the Derry game. The guys who came in did really well, it was a real team performance.

“Dean Williams has been flying in training but has had the best striker in the league ahead of him. Dean came in and scored the winner and showed again how good he can be for us.

“Kris Twardek has been an outstanding player over the years, has been outstanding in training too and came in and did really well.

“Jay Benn is getting fitter by the week and came in and his match sharpness was first class.

“James Clarke, who was probably Bohs’ best player after he came in last season, came in and showed again that he will have a huge role for us.

“There is serious competition and everyone wants to play. That is without James McManus who has not started the last couple of games, who was probably one of our best players this season, John O’Sullivan has come on in recent games and done really well.

“We have Jordan Flores coming back now which is a tremendous asset. Keith Buckley has come back and had a massive performance in Derry. Then you have people like Adam McDonnell who has been a constant 9/10 in every game.

“I am so happy with the squad – we were without James Akintunde and Ali Coote. But our squad has pace and power, technical ability, physical ability.”

The latter was today named as SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for March, and Devine could not hide his delight for his star man.

He said: “I am really proud of Ali. I have a lot of happiness for him. I am so happy for him. His work ethic has been outstanding.

“His work that he puts in off the ball has been as important as when he has been on the ball. His assists and his goals have been so important for us too.

“He is a pleasure to work with and the award is fully deserved.

“He has been the best player in the league, and it is important that our players enjoy individual success as well as collective success.”

Being without such key performers meant Monday’s win all the more pleasing.

Devine said: “Our work ethic was outstanding. To win in places like the Brandywell is brilliant. We defended from front to back – our attacking players had to plug a lot of gaps – and our midfield expended a lot of energy.

“I listened to some reports of the game saying that Brian Maher didn’t have a save to make, but James Talbot barely had a save to make until injury time either.

“We felt comfortable in the game. Our goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make until the 95th minute, and we didn’t have balls cleared off lines.

“It wasn’t backs-to-the-wall in the way it has been reported. It was a battle in midfield with defences on top. It certainly was not a smash-and-grab but we showed great resilience, and keeping clean sheets away from home gives you a platform to win.

“It was really pleasing. We have been outstanding on the road this year, and that has given the players great belief. We have seven wins from nine, which is a good start. But we want to keep improving. We want to get the eighth now.”

Bohs beat tomorrow’s opposition the last time they met as goals from Afolabi and Williams gave them a 2-1 victory in Inchicore.

But the Saints have had an upturn in form since, and Devine says his side will have to be at their very best once more to claim victory.

He said: “St Pat’s are on a good run of form. Their results have been very positive – they have won three on the spin.

“They are a good team. They were a good team when we played them the last time. They have a really good squad of players.

“In every game we have got to work as hard as we possibly can and this will be a very tough game that we will be ready for.

“The games cannot come quick enough for our players at the minute. They are loving playing for the club. They are loving the atmosphere that our supporters are generating.

“I have managed and coached in the Brandywell for a hell of a long time and it’s the biggest and best away crowd I have ever seen in the ground in my career.

“Our fans have been magnificent, absolutely magnificent. They have been incredible in getting the team across the line. The players are bouncing off the fans right now.”

That bond was evident from the many videos and photos circulated online following a chance meeting between the players and fans making their way home from Derry on Monday.

Devine said: “We actually met a bus load at a petrol station in Monaghan on the way home. It was incredibly pleasing for me to see the togetherness of the players and fans, and them all relating with each other, singing together, and just enjoying the moment. It was special.”


James Akintunde (hamstring) remains out, while Ali Coote (thigh) is a doubt.

Preview: Derry City v Bohemians

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Monday April 10 2023
Ryan McBride Stadium, 7pm

Declan Devine says his Bohemians players have to take Friday’s Dublin derby defeat on the chin as they try to get back to winning ways away to his hometown club Derry City tonight.

Bohs started brightly against Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount, creating goal-scoring opportunities in a lively opening 25-minute period.

But they conceded at one of the worst possible times – a minute before half-time – and struggled in the second half as Rovers added another to win 2-0.

Tonight’s opponents’ defeat to Drogheda United kept Bohs top of the table on Friday night but they face a tough task remaining there at the Ryan McBride Stadium tonight.

Devine said: “The boys have come to difficult venues, played in difficult circumstances at times and up to now have been superb.

“We have to take Friday’s result on the chin and go to Derry and do all we can to get a result.

“We have players hurting but there is a long way to go.

“There are a lot of other clubs that would like to be sitting where we are in terms of points return from the opening lump of games.

“Whether the result on Friday was a win, lose or draw, you have to put that behind you and get ready for the next one. That’s what we have done.

“We have good lads and good players. But we have to strive to get better to make sure that in the real tight games, we defend better than we did on Friday.

“We are not very happy with certain aspects of the game but we have to learn.

“A lot of players were playing in their first Dublin derby and we have got to understand that these are things we have to make sure we can rectify as the season goes on. These are fine margins in games.

“When we are on top in the opening period, where the crowd is right behind us, if we can take one of those chances and put it in the back of the net, that gives us the lift we need at that time.

“We have to psychologically learn from the goal we conceded. You take your 1-0 and make sure you don’t concede a second.

“I just think it was one that we nearly felt a wee bit sorry for ourselves because we had been on top so much for the opening period.

“We have to learn that these things happen in the game and we have to understand you dust yourself down and be ready for the next game.

“We are just trying to make sure we get better week in, week out.”


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday April 7 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Live on Virgin Media 2

Declan Devine takes charge of his first Dublin derby against Shamrock Rovers as Bohemians manager this evening and says there is more to come from his side.

With six wins from their opening seven games, Bohs sit on top of the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division table. Devine is not getting carried away, but is relishing tonight’s game.

He said: “We can’t wait. I have been fortunate to be in the game for a long time and these are the kind of games you want to be involved in.

“I’ve been involved with games against PSG, Gothenburg, Celtic and Rangers, but a Dublin derby, being involved with Bohemians and getting to know the club and its people over the past few months, is something I am really looking forward to and the players are looking forward to.

“It’s another game, nothing will be decided other than three points. But we want a performance that represents this football club and everyone involved in it.

“We have had a positive start, and it still galls me that we have lost one, albeit with 10 men. We need to continue to grow and improve, and the players can take huge belief from their performances so far, never mind results.

“If we continue that level of performance, work ethic and desire, along with the togetherness of the fans behind us, then there is no reason why we cannot continue to push on.

“Nothing surprises me with these players because I’ve seen it from day dot. I thought our recruitment was spot on. We brought in players with good experience, but also with a real technical ability.

“There were also very good players already here. You look at Jonathan Afolabi, look at Ali Coote. Ali, for me, has been the best player in the league over the course of the last six or seven weeks.

“We treat each game the same and we do our homework on opposition exactly the same.

“But we are not naive. This game is different. We have told the players and shown them clips of previous games so they know what to expect in terms of atmosphere and intensity.

“The players are well versed. They are used to playing in front of sell-out crowds at Dalymount, so that is a huge plus going into this game too.

“But I expect the game to be 100 miles an hour, for it to be intense, but that is how we want to approach every game.

“We know we are up against a tough opponent but that is fine, we have played other tough opponents already too. We just have to make sure we take care of our own mentality and our own tactics when we take to the pitch.”
Bohs come into tonight’s game after a hard-fought win away to Sligo Rovers last Saturday.

Devine added: “Sligo are a good side. Rovers and Pat’s have gone to Sligo and haven’t won. The pitch wasn’t great and didn’t allow us to play the way we wanted to play.

“But I thought we grew into the game really well. Our ability to defend and do the ugly bits well gave us a platform to go and win the game with a late goal.

“It is very pleasing that for such a new group, that they didn’t allow their heads to drop. We enjoyed the win. You have got to enjoy every win. But we are not getting carried away.

“I looked towards the end of the game at the fans, singing the Auld Triangle, and it was passionate. You want that passion, you need that passion.

“We want that togetherness and when our fans are enjoying it, we want to enjoy it with them, because there will be days when it’s tough so when the fans really get behind you like they did once again in Sligo, you want to recognise that. We all have a role to play in trying to achieve success.”


Keith Buckley (calf) and Jordan Flores (quad) are doubts.


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Saturday April 1 2023, The Showgrounds, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says his Bohemians players have spent the international break working hard together to build on their impressive start to the season.

Five wins from six saw Bohs top the table going into this weekend’s series of games but Devine believes they will have to be at their very best to beat Sligo Rovers in the Showgrounds.

He said: “We want more, and we want to get better. We are just six games into a long season but the response from the players, staff and everyone has been very pleasing.

“The break has been important for us for a number of reasons.

“It allowed us to get a couple of the lads back, and we hadn’t previously had much time to work on certain aspects of our defending because some of the players we brought in came to the club so late in the transfer window.

“But we have had time now over the past couple of weeks to work on that side of things. Attacking-wise, we have been very good, and now we want to pull it all together.

“The break allowed those lads who came to the club late in the window opportunities to get away for a couple of days too; head home, see their families and parents, and have a bit more preparation in terms of moving here and settling in properly.

“But after those couple of days off, we were all back at it full pelt. We have been in everyday, players have had double sessions, and they have been enjoying working with each other on the training pitch.

“It was important, after a busy start to the season, that we had 10/11 days to really work with the players. Hopefully we will see the benefits of that now.

“There is a serious fight for positions, there is a real energy about the place, and we will need that as games are coming thick and fast.

“We have great flexibility within the group and we have players who haven’t had much playing time but that will change when you look at the schedule coming up.

“But our sole focus now is going to Sligo and trying to win at a very difficult venue.”

Although the season is only in its infancy, Bohs have already enjoyed a couple of enjoyable performances away from home this year.

Devine said: “We have been good on the road so far – going to difficult venues like Turner’s Cross and Richmond Park and winning, and were unfortunate in Tolka Park when we were down to 10 men.

“But this is another huge test for us going to the Showgrounds in front of a full house on a Saturday night.

“It is a game that every single person at the club is looking forward to – the games cannot come quick enough for us, and we have to embrace them.

“Sligo have good players. John Russell has them playing a completely different brand of football to what they had been playing.

“They have been formidable at home. They beat St Pat’s with 10 men, scored a last-minute equaliser against Shamrock Rovers, and went to the Brandwell and drew.

“They have been performing really well in big games so we know that it is a really difficult fixture where we will have to be at our very best.”

Bohs come into the game on the back of a 2-1 win against UCD a fortnight ago. A difficult first half saw Bohs go in at the break a goal down having had a perfectly good goal from Johnny Afolabi ruled out, while Ali Coote missed a penalty.

While heads were bowed coming off the pitch, the players responded to the great encouragement they received from the Dalymount faithful as second half goals from Paddy Kirk and man-of-the-match Coote saw Bohs claim all three points to remain top of the table.

Devine said: “There were a lot of positives to take from the game. We suffered a lot of setbacks in the first half – a goal disallowed, missing a penalty and going a goal behind – but we showed great resilience in how we went out and attacked the second half.

“We have good footballers and good characters who work hard on a daily basis, so it was pleasing to get the next goal and to build on that very quickly to get the second.

“But we have to learn from the game too – we want to put teams to bed. We do not want to be holding on in the last five/six minutes of games.

“The most pleasing thing was fans and players staying together as a group to get the three points.

“Coming off at half-time, the players were a bit flat but the fans were magic and gave them an enormous lift.

“Our fans have been absolutely brilliant and our players have responded. They have given them something to enjoy so far and long may it continue.

“We need energy in the stands and we need energy on the pitch.

“There are going to be times in games when things aren’t going so well. Like times against UCD, like times against Drogheda, like times against Cork; our fans were needed to get us across the line.

“No doubt on Saturday there will be times where we will be under pressure and that is where we need our fans the most.

“It was the same at the first game of the season down in Cork. We were under serious pressure in the last 10/15 minutes and I looked around to the crowd and they got going again for us.

“You need that in those difficult moments even more than when you are on top. That is what we have had so far this year – the reaction between the fans and players.

“We all get our rewards then when we score goals, and you can see how much it means then from the reaction of the players running to celebrate with our fans.”


Bohemians have a full squad to choose from.

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