Preview: Finn Harps v Bohemians

Bohemians begin their FAI Cup campaign away to Finn Harps with everyone at the club hoping they can go one better than they did last season.

Bohs went agonisingly close to lifting the trophy in the Aviva Stadium – Rory Feely inches from winning it in extra-time before losing the decider on penalties.

There has been much change since – nine of the 15 players who featured for Keith Long’s side that day have moved on since.

In this July transfer window alone, there have been eight new arrivals – three of whom are available for the matchday squad for the first time this evening.

James Clarke (Drogheda United), Laurenz Dehl (Union Berlin, loan) and Jon McCracken (Norwich City, loan) join up the squad alongside previous July additions Ryan Burke (Mansfield Town), Josh Kerr (Airdrieonians), Declan McDaid (Dundee), John O’Sullivan (Accrington Stanley) and Ethon Varian (Stoke City).

So the large travelling Bohs support in Ballybofey will have a lot of new faces to familiarise themselves with and to place their faith in to progress in the FAI Cup.


One of those new faces is full-back Burke, who joined from Mansfield Town having spent last season on loan with Telford.

Previously with St Patrick’s Athletic before moving to Birmingham City, the 21-year-old is looking to make his mark having made his debut as a late substitute in the 3-1 victory against UCD earlier this month.

Burke said: “I’ve settled in really well. All the boys are really good with me.

“I’ve known some of them beforehand and obviously that makes coming into the group a bit easier. But even the ones who I didn’t know have been great too.

“There is good competition in the squad now and I just want to take my opportunities to show what I do when they come.”

Harps have proved tricky opponents in recent years for Bohemians but Ollie Horgan’s side are struggling at the bottom of the league table this season and Long’s men go into the game confident of progressing.

Burke added: “We know Finn Harps’ qualities and won’t take them lightly and we have done our analysis on them.

“With no game it meant we could work on different things and it went really well. We had a tough week training – it was a really good week’s work.

“I feel we are really prepared for this game now.”


James Talbot (shoulder) remains out but Bohemians are otherwise at full strength with Ali Coote (illness) returning.

New signings James Clarke (Drogheda United), Jon McCracken (Norwich City, loan) and Laurenz Dehl (Union Berlin, loan) come into the squad and are available for selection for the first time.


Bohemians manager Keith Long believes his summer signings can change the dynamic of his team and help push them up the table.

Bohs travel to Belfield this evening to take on UCD at the UCD Bowl and for the first time new signings Josh Kerr, Ryan Burke, John O’Sullivan and Declan McDaid come into the reckoning.

Long said: “We have good players at the club but we need to be better.

“Ryan, Josh, John and Declan come into contention for the first time tonight and we are really looking forward to the dynamic the new boys bring to the squad.

“We knew we had to improve in terms of our strength and depth and I feel that they will add to the team.

“We are disappointed with where we are in the table and we have to start winning games to improve our position. It’s as simple as that.

“A little bit of experience coming in will help us, so we hope that it will give us a bit of a bounce. Ultimately we have to try and improve their fitness levels because they have had an off-season.

“We have got to give them time to try and get ready and up to speed to try and impact us because we are crying out for it.”
Long was frustrated with Bohs’ 3-2 defeat to Derry City on Friday, particularly the manner in which the Candystripes scored their second less than two minutes after the Gypsies had levelled the game.

He added: “Every goal we conceded was an error. That has been the story of our season so far. The goals that we are conceding are just far too soft. They are individual errors.

“We got back into the game and Ali Coote gets a cracking goal but we concede in the next phase of play because we didn’t defend the back post.

“That has happened three times this year where we have conceded directly after scoring. Then we give a needless free-kick away in a wide area and again, it’s poor defending.

“Those that have come to watch us week on week have seen that far too often this year and we need to improve.”


Four new signings – Ryan Burke, Josh Kerr, John O’Sullivan and Declan McDaid – come into contention for the first time.

Liam Burt, who was named on the bench last Friday but became ill, is available once more.

James Talbot (shoulder) and Grant Horton (knee) remain out.


Bohemians manager Keith Long has seen enough from his team since the start of the second half of the season to believe they can climb up the table.

His side have won a Dublin derby 1-0 and lost a Dublin derby 1-0 since the short mid-season break.

First, they beat Shelbourne at Dalymount Park a fortnight ago but lost to Shamrock Rovers by the same scoreline at Tallaght Stadium last week.

Long said: “Last week we were disappointed not to come away with something from Tallaght.

“Our performance deserved more but a slow start to the second half cost us and we left frustrated having conceded a goal from a set play in what was an otherwise positive team display.

“Derby games are normally won by the odd goal and games are very often defined by small margins. Teams will punish those moments and we must learn from Friday in order to grind out results in tight games.”

Bohemians come into tomorrow’s game against Derry City in a positive mindset, however.

Long said: “The team are very much together, focused on improving and are fighting for one another.

“You have seen evidence of that in our displays since our return from the short break and if we can continue that level of performance, we can climb the table.

“Derry come into tonight after a good win away in UCD last week. They are a quality team with some great players presenting us with so many challenges throughout their team.

“These are challenges that we are looking forward to though and we hope we can continue to improve with a good team display.”

Long is counting on another vocal support, and tribute to the backing his team have had in recent games.

He said: “The support in Dalymount last time out versus Shelbourne was exceptional.

“Down to 10 men for most of the second half, the players really benefited from the support in the Jodi – that helped us win the game.

“It was the same in Tallaght where the fans got right behind the lads and we will need that support again against Derry City.”

That support will be all the more important as Long will have to do without his three new arrivals – Ryan Burke, Josh Kerr and John O’Sullivan – despite the transfer window opening tomorrow.

Long added: “Unfortunately, we are unable to call upon any of our recent signings due to an association rule that only allows players to be registered 24 hours after the transfer window opens.

“It is unfortunate that July 1st lands on a Friday and it is deeply frustrating not to have the lads available for selection despite having all the necessary paperwork ready in advance of the window.”


Ciarán Kelly (suspension) and Tyreke Wilson (bug) return.

James Talbot (shoulder) and Grant Horton (knee) remain out.

New signings Ryan Burke, Josh Kerr and John O’Sullivan are not yet eligible to play.


Conor Levingston says Bohemians are relishing the opportunity to have a crack at rivals Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght tomorrow.

Bohs started the second half of the season with three points in a Dublin derby against Shelbourne last week as Dawson Devoy’s long-range effort was enough to secure victory for Keith Long’s side, who played the last 40 minutes with just ten men.

But the temperature will ratchet up a notch when Bohs travel to take on league leaders in Dublin 24.

Levingston said: “These are massive games. We all know that. They’re huge and mean so much to everyone involved.

“For us though it’s about working on our play and what we are going to do.

“We have a big job ahead but one we are looking forward to.

“It is a massive opportunity for us to go and put in a good performance in front of a packed house in Tallaght. We are looking forward to giving it a good crack.”
Bohs were two weeks without football prior to last Friday’s win over Shels.

Levingston admits the squad took that time to regroup and to start afresh.

He said: “We all went away for a few days and had a chance to rest and recover.

“It had been a tough start to the season and it was beneficial to have some time off.

“We came back and worked really hard then when we came back in.”

That hard work paid off with a hard-fought win over Damien Duff’s Shels, despite going a man down on 55 minutes when Ciarán Kelly saw red.

Levingston said: “Conceding late goals was something that has been hanging over us but the lads dug deep.

“Going down to 10 men is never easy but we were able to grind it out which is what we had to do.

“When you dig in and work hard, you can get your bit of luck.

“They hit the bar at the end and maybe that’s the little bit of luck we hadn’t been getting in previous games.”

Manager Long agreed. He said: “It was a hard-fought win, and in a Dublin derby, and it was a great way to come back to play in that derby too.

“It was important to get the second half of the season off to a winning start at home.

“Shelbourne had a great chance when Shane Farrell flashed in a great cross from the right-hand side and Gavin Hodgins was probably a bit unlucky.

“But we deserved that bit of luck towards the end that we haven’t gotten in previous games.”

Long was also delighted with the performance of goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan who kept a clean sheet on his debut in the absence of James Talbot, who suffered a shoulder injury in training while on international duty with Ireland.

Long said: “He has been very patient but he has obviously been behind an exceptional keeper, so he’s had to wait patiently in the wings and has been very professional since he came to the club.

“He has trained extremely hard and is a very clever, down to earth fella.

“Nothing really fazes Tadhg, so we weren’t really concerned for him to come into a game of that nature with a bit of pressure on us.

“He did very well to keep a clean sheet and it’s a reward for his patience and perseverance but also his professionalism because the boys will tell you he trains at a really high standard and I’m glad for him.”

Long will be hoping for a similar solid performance at the back to provide a platform for his attacking players to flourish.

He added: “If we click, that front four are as good as any in the league. But we have to click a little bit more often than we have been doing and that has been the missing piece.

“We have to be consistent. It’s very difficult when you’re going to Tallaght, to the league leaders. But we are looking forward to it now.”


Bohemians are without Ciarán Kelly following his red card against Shelbourne but Tyreke Wilson returns from suspension.

James Talbot (shoulder) and Grant Horton (knee) remain out.

Please note that tonight’s game is being shown on the big screen in the Members’ Bar at Dalymount Park for those who cannot make the trip to Tallaght.


Bohemians are looking for Dublin derby spoils in their first game back from a two-week break during the international football window.

Just one point separates tonight’s opposition with Shelbourne in sixth on 24 points and Bohs in seventh on 23.

Very little separated the teams the last time they met at Dalymount Park either when they served up a 1-1 draw.

But Bohs, with a determination to climb up the table, will be looking to instead replicate their most recent result against Shels when goals at Tolka Park from Liam Burt, Dawson Devoy, Kris Twardek and Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe gave the Gypsies their most comprehensive result of the season.

Manager Keith Long said: “After a couple of weeks away from competitive action we are back playing and what better way to restart the campaign than in a derby in front of a packed house.

“Hopefully the game will reflect what I am sure will be a terrific atmosphere.”

There have been changes to the squad in that short break too, with the loan deals of Sam Packham and Ryan Cassidy coming to an end.

There are three new faces signed up – full-back Ryan Burke, centre-back Josh Kerr and midfielder John O’Sullivan.

The trio are not available for tonight’s game or next week’s against Shamrock Rovers but will come into contention once the transfer window opens on July 1.

Long said: “These are players who I really believe will help strengthen our squad and provide healthy competition for our group.

“They are obviously coming from the traditional season and will require several weeks to get up to match speed and fitness, but we hope they can contribute quickly once international clearance comes through from July 1.

“Hopefully, we will be able to make some more additions over the coming weeks with so much to play for in the second half of the season.

“It takes time to build a squad. For far too long we have witnessed our best players leaving the club and hopefully our attempts to attract players on longer term contracts gives us stability on the pitch now that we have it thankfully off it.

“Our club is now in a strong position having transitioned from the best part-time club in the country to a club that wants to challenge and challenge repeatedly and sustainably.
“That might seem a long way off at this minute when you look at the current league table but I don’t believe we are a million miles off. If we can add to our squad again this window and the next I believe it will put us in a great position as we move forward.”

While the club has been boosted with new arrivals, there was a blow during the break when goalkeeper James Tablout suffered a shoulder injury in training while on duty with Ireland.

Long added: “Unfortunately, we are going to be without the services of James for a significant amount of time.

“James has been exceptional since he came to the club. Any team would miss a player and person of his calibre.

“I am gutted for James, but I am sure he will do everything in his power to get back to fitness as quickly as possible.

“Thankfully, we have Tadhg Ryan who, since coming to the club, has bided his time patiently and is more than capable of stepping into the breach.

“It can be a lonely station for goalkeepers waiting in the wings for an opportunity, but Tadhg has been the ultimate professional and his time is now.

“I am confident that he will show his quality in James’ absence.”

Another man on the sidelines is Grant Horton who has impressed at centre-back on loan from Cheltenham.

Long added: “Grant has had knee surgery to repair a small issue with his meniscus and will complete his rehab with Cheltenham with a view to coming back to us to finalise his rehab and have him ready potentially for the latter half of July.

“Grant, prior to his injury, was in good form and we are looking forward to having him available as we attempt to attack the second half of the season.”


Bohemians are without James Talbot (shoulder), Tyreke Wilson (suspended) and Grant Horton (knee).

Ryan Cassidy and Sam Packham have left the club after their loans from Watford and Brighton came to an end.

New signings Josh Kerr, Ryan Burke and John O’Sullivan are not eligible until the transfer window opens on July 1.

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