“Players have given me a lot to think about”

​DUNDALK v BOHEMIANS
Friday March 30 2018
Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians travel to Dundalk tomorrow buoyed by two wins in four days.

But manager Keith Long insists performance levels must continue to improve if they are to get anything out of the game at Oriel Park.

The Gypsies got back to winning ways last Friday with Dinny Cororan’s injury-time goal – his first of the season – giving them a 2-1 victory against Bray Wanderers.

It was a scrappy game but Bohs will feel they deserved that slice of luck that had evaded them in previous weeks despite superior performances.

Long said: “We’ve had two good results but neither will have any bearing coming up against a team like Dundalk.

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“We know our performance levels have to be much better than they were against Bray, especially against the likes of Dundalk.

“They’ve been the team to beat for a number of years so we will need to be resolute.

“We got a bit of luck in the end against Bray that we haven’t had in previous games.

“But you have to make your own luck and it was an excellent goal – great composure from Dinny to finish and excellent play from Keith Ward to set him up.

“It’s important Dinny got off the mark. He’s an important player for us but he’s struggled a bit since pre-season with a groin injury niggling at him.

“He wasn’t really in the game much before that. But when he was handed that chance, he took it and that’s what good goalscorers like Dinny do.”

Bohs followed that win up with a comprehensive 5-1 victory against Cabinteely in the EA Sports Cup on Monday.

That was a more satisfying performance, particularly as it was an experimental line-up featuring several players needing game-time and members of the club’s U19 team.

Three U19 stars made their first-team debuts: Daniel Grant, who scored, Ryan Graydon and Dylan Thornton.

In total, eight – adding Dan Byrne, Jamie Hamilton, John Ross Wilson, Paddy Kirk and Steven Nolan – of the 14 players who saw game-time came through the club’s youth system.

A further four – Sean Bohan, Cian McMullen, Mitch Byrne and Luke Nolan – were the unused substitutes.

Long said: “Several lads have put their hands up now. We could have scored more. It was an excellent performance overall, albeit against First Division opposition.

“We started a bit shakily, which is understandable when you take into account the back five hadn’t played a game at all this season never mind playing a game together.

“As well as the younger players, some of the more senior players came into the team and did very well.

“Dan Byrne captained the side and didn’t put a foot wrong. I felt Philly Gannon also gave a very mature performance and Dylan Watts scored twice and was excellent.

“Several players have given me a lot to think about and it’s not a bad headache to have.”

TEAM NEWS

Skipper Derek Pender (calf) remains out, while Kevin Devaney (illness) is also sidelined. Karl Moore (back) is a doubt.

Strikers Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) remain out.

U19 striker Danny Grant, who scored on his first-team debut against Cabinteely, is expected to make the bench.

“They are hurting, we all are”

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS
Friday March 23 2018, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

MATCH SPONSOR: John O’Connor MATCHBALL SPONSOR: Dwane Oakes

Keith Long has told Bohemians they need to get back to basics to get back to winning ways.

An encouraging performance against Sligo Rovers last Friday saw the Gypsies claim a 2-2 draw in a game they deserved to win.

They were frustrated not to claim all three points but it halted a run of three agonising 1-0 defeats in a row.

Away to ruthless champions Cork City on Monday, however, they undid a positive start by conceding twice in the space of three minutes before eventually losing 3-0.

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Long is determined to put it right against Bray Wanderers tomorrow and has demanded that his team, still looking for their first clean sheet of the season, tighten up at the back.

He said: “To be successful, you have to do the basics of the game well.

“We as a group at critical times in games so far this season have not respected the fundamentals of the game.

“We are conceding bad goals and until we eradicate this from our game, we will find it very tough to win.”

But Long is positive his side have enough talent and guile about them to get back on track.

He said: “Some of our play has been very good and maybe we haven’t got what we deserved at times.

“We don’t lack for effort and desire.

“But our decision-making and final pass in the final third needs to be better in order to create more goal-scoring opportunities and to work the opposition goalkeeper more.

“Defending well gives you a platform to perform and if you are solid at the back, you are always in contention.

“We need to improve as a team in this area and if we can achieve this, I believe we have the quality in attack to score goals and to hurt teams.”

Long says his players are “hurting” after their disappointing run of form but believes a vocal home support tomorrow can give them the perfect lift.

He added: “The support has been fantastic this season as always. The players need that now more than ever. They are hurting, we all are.

“We need Dalymount to be bouncing and let’s hope we can deliver the result we all crave.”

TEAM NEWS

Captain Derek Pender is ruled out after being forced off against Cork City with a calf strain.

Fellow defender Rob Cornwall is a doubt with a virus.

Strikers Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) remain out.

“The pressure to win should act as a spur for our players”

 

BOHEMIANS v SLIGO ROVERS
Friday March 16 2018, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

MATCH SPONSOR: Mylan MATCHBALL SPONSOR: Joe Costello

Keith Long has challenged Bohemians to take ownership of the game when Sligo Rovers come to Dalymount Park tomorrow.

The Gypsies have fallen behind in all five of their opening SSE Airtricity League games of the 2018 season.

They bounced back on opening night to secure a memorable 3-1 win against Shamrock Rovers and again the following week to claim a deserved point away to Limerick.

But they have failed to come back in their last three games, agonisingly losing each one by the odd goal.

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The Gypsies started brightly in the 1-0 defeats to Derry City, St Patrick’s Athletic and, most recently, Waterford on Monday.

But Long has been left frustrated by his side’s inability thus far to turn possession and chances into goals.

Long said: “We have had opportunities to score in every game, most notably missed penalties at home to Derry and St Pat’s.

“But the concession of cheap goals has been our Achilles heel.

“In all of our games to date, we have conceded the first goal. In order to give ourselves any chance, we must try and get the opening goal.

“Despite lots of our build-up play looking promising at times, we have failed to work the opposition goalkeepers enough.

“We have ended up on the wrong side of results in games where we have been very much in contention and should have taken something from.”

Despite Long’s frustrations, he believes his side have both the character and ability to get back to winning ways.

He said: “Results and performance needs to be addressed and I believe that we have the players and character to change our fortunes.

“We are all frustrated that we have not been able to build on the Rovers win on the opening night of the season.

“But I firmly believe we are not a million miles off and we are only one good result and performance away from kick-starting our season.”

Long does not expect heads to drop and in fact believes his team should relish the pressure on them to get a result against Sligo.

He added: “There is pressure on us to deliver at home. We cannot shy away from that – that pressure to win should act as a spur for our players.

“We need to show our mettle now and show courage to get our season back on track.

“It won’t be easy as Sligo are a good side who try to play an expansive game. But we are at home and I expect to see a reaction from our players.”

TEAM NEWS

Kevin Devaney is a doubt with an Achilles injury that ruled him out against Waterford on Monday. Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) remain out.

“It is a great challenge”

After 10 days without a game, Bohemians are looking to hit the ground running ahead of a congested fixture list that will see them play seven matches between now and the end of March.

Storm Emma saw both last Friday’s league meeting away to Cork City and Monday’s EA Sports Cup tie at home to Cabinteely postponed until Monday March 19 and Monday March 26 respectively in a month that already had two scheduled midweek league fixtures.

Keith Long’s squad will be tested to the maximum but he is looking forward to the challenge.

Ahead of welcoming his former club St Patrick’s Athletic to Dalymount Park, Long said: “The extreme weather has disrupted the fixture list and it will have a knock-on effect over the next few weeks with a backlog of games.

“This will be a test of our squad and our durability but it will be the same for all clubs.

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“We must get on with it. It is a great challenge for the players along with the staff in terms of planning and preparation.”

Last time out, Bohs failed to capitalise on an encouraging first-half performance against Derry City and ended up empty-handed after Ronan Curtis’ 60th-minute goal gave the visitors a perhaps undeserved 1-0 victory.

Long is hoping for a more consistent performance tomorrow and said: “Last week’s conditions meant it wasn’t a night for the faint-hearted, so we appreciated the support we got.

“But the result was very disappointing. I felt it was a great opportunity missed.

“It was a disjointed performance and we never really exerted enough pressure on the opposition when the game was in the balance.

“We must learn from this. But we are a young group and I believe we will improve.

“Hopefully now we can put in a good performance and get the desired result.”

TEAM NEWS

Dinny Corcoran (groin) and Rob Manley (hamstring) return to the squad. Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal) remain out.

“WE WANT TO DELIVER A TEAM THE FANS CAN BE PROUD OF”

BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY
Tuesday February 27, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Match sponsor: Arkway Refrigeration
Matchball sponsor: Conal Devine & Associates

Bohemians welcome Derry City to Dalymount Park tomorrow looking to build on their encouraging start to the season which has seen Keith Long’s side take four points from their opening two games.

The Gypsies kicked off the 2018 season by coming from behind to claim derby-day bragging rights with a 3-1 derby victory against Shamrock Rovers.

And they had to dig deep once more in Limerick on Saturday after frustratingly falling behind against the run of play before new boy Eoghan Stokes’ late equaliser salvaged a 1-1 draw.

Manager Long said: “The character the team showed to dig out a result with a 90th-minute equaliser was really impressive.

“A point was the least we deserved having had the bulk of possession and looking the more likely to score throughout.

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“Conditions were really difficult underfoot and the pitch was awful, which didn’t help us. But we kept going and we found a way through with Eoghan grabbing his first goal for the club on his full debut.”

Long believes his side grew in stature drawing on the support of the big vocal home crowd in their opening night win against Rovers.

And he will be hoping for more of the same tomorrow against a Derry City side who have won all of the last seven meetings between the sides since Kenny Shiels took charge at the start of the 2016 season.

He said: “This is going to be another really testing challenge for us. We face a Derry side who finished fourth last season, have some excellent players and have one of the league’s canniest managers.

“Our home support was fantastic last time out, the noise and colour generated by our fans was amazing and the players could really feed off that.

“It was great to see Dalymount packed to the rafters and we hope we can generate the type of interest there was around the Rovers game for all our home games.

“There is a lot of really good work being done in the community and behind the scenes at Bohs.

“We want to capitalise on that by delivering a team that plays for the club, plays for the jersey, plays for its community and be one that the fans can be proud of.”

But with games coming thick and fast, Long is conscious of the demands being placed on his squad – one of only two part-time set-ups in the division – and could make changes to his line-up accordingly.

He said: “It important that we can depend upon lads to step into the team and do their jobs. This midweek round of fixtures has not favoured us.

“We find ourselves playing Derry with 24 hours less recovery and preparation time than our opponents, who played in Sligo on Friday night with us playing down in Limerick on Saturday.

“It will also see us travel to Cork on Friday with another 24 hours less recovery and preparation time than Cork, who play in Sligo tonight.

“I would like to see more of a level playing field. If there are back-to-back fixtures, they should be Friday/Monday for all teams or Saturday/Tuesday for all teams irrespective of clubs’ preferred night to play home games.

“You cannot underestimate the value of 24 hours when it comes to recovery. Derry and Cork do not need any further advantage over us – they already have one by being full-time.

“Their recovery with their players is more controlled than ours and to compete on the scheduling of these games in my view hands them another advantage and is unfair, especially when you factor in we are part-time.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs continue to be without long-term absentees Ryan Swan (cruciate) and Cristian Magerusan (metatarsal), while Rob Manley (hamstring) is likely to sit this one out too.

Keith Ward (hamstring) and Kevin Devaney (ankle) were late withdrawals from the squad that travelled to Limerick but both are expected to be available for selection tomorrow.

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