Preview: Stjarnan v Bohemians

First Qualifying Round First Leg
Stjarnan v Bohemians
Thursday July 8th 2021
Stjörnuvöllur, 8.45pm (Irish time)
Live stream on for €10

Georgie Kelly fired his way to the top of the goalscoring charts to earn himself the SSE Airtricity Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for June.

Now he wants to carry that momentum through to score his first European goal.

Keith Long’s side jetted off to Iceland this morning ahead of tomorrow’s first leg of their Europa Conference League qualifier against Stjarnan.


And the beaming Kelly, who now has 12 goals to his name this season, could not hide his delight after those efforts were recognised.

The 24-year-old, who joined at the start of the season from Dundalk having spent 2020 on loan at St Patrick’s Athletic, said: “It means a lot. A little personal accolade to collect.

“But it’s correlated with how the team has been performing and the chances we are creating.

“As we improve throughout the season, we are creating more chances, scoring more goals and getting more results.

“It would be nice to get a European goal, I haven’t got one yet. So it would be a nice little bonus.

“We are all itching to go. We have been playing well recently so we are going over with a bit of confidence and really looking forward to the two legs.”

Kelly’s overall performances in the opening stages of the season were good – his link-up play and overall contribution did not get the credit he deserved – yet it took him a little longer than he had hoped to find his scoring boots.

He has really found his groove over the past two months though – netting a hat-trick against his former club Dundalk, four against Drogheda United, a winner in the Dublin derby against Shamrock Rovers and, most recently, the opener in the 3-2 win over St Patrick’s Athletic.

Kelly, from Tooban in Donegal, said: “It’s just about getting used to getting used to playing with new players. After a while, things begin to tick and the team kind of picks itself.

“It’s great playing with those five behind me. Ross Tierney in particular plays close to me. Having his legs behind me helps me a lot.

“Dawson Devoy is brilliant too for such a young player too. Who knows how far he can go or what heights he can reach?

“His performance against St Pat’s on Friday was probably one of his best of the season. He is a joy to play with and he is a Rolls Royce of a midfielder.”

Kelly played a bit-part role off the bench in Dundalk’s European qualifiers in 2018 and 2019 but this will be the first time he will be leading the line.

He said: “It is hard to compare. When you play in Europe the standards are all lifted and normally the games are more physical. Fitness and athleticism is all a step up but we will be well prepped.

“We are trying to work off momentum and I think we are still getting better. Because the team is so youthful, it is hard to know where we are at.

“Things can dip as we saw against Sligo. We are still learning and the season is only halfway gone. You can only judge us at the end of the season.”

Long, who had to contend with losing his three most attacking players last season – Andre Wright, Danny Grant and Kris Twardek – is equally delighted that Kelly’s efforts have been recognised.

Long said: “Georgie has got a lot of goals for us and was the natural choice across the league to be Player of the Month.

“I am delighted for him. He’s had highs and lows this year but we are delighted he has found his feet with us.

“He is playing with confidence, the team is playing with confidence. They’re creating lots of opportunities and Georgie’s been getting on the end of them.

“There have been some great team moves and team goals. Even at the start of the year, at the risk of repeating myself, Georgie was playing well. The goals validate some of those performances now.

“It took time for the team to gel. Our wide players are contributing now with assists to goals as are the boys in the middle of the park.”

And Long will be hoping that continues when his side take to the field at Stjörnuvöllur.

Bohs matched Hungarian side Fehérvár all the way in the Europa League last year before cruelly losing out on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra time.

But the club’s previous excursion to Iceland nine years ago saw Bohs humbled by a second tier side Thor Akureyri. Despite taking the lead through Dave Scully, Aaron Callaghan’s side succumbed to a 5-1 defeat.

Captain Keith Buckley and Keith Ward are veterans of that trip, but Bohs on and off the pitch are in a much better place now.

Long and his backroom team have been busy since the draw was made doing as much homework on Stjarnan as possible.

Long said: “In the absence of being able to get to games, we have had to rely on video and one or two people on the ground who have been able to give us some information.

“The level of opposition is always going to be good in European competition. They are a big physical side, they are experienced.

“They have good technical players throughout and are a threat from set-pieces.

“We will have to perform to our very best, there’s no doubt about that to try to bring the tie alive back to the Aviva Stadium next week.

“It is something we have prepared for. We have had an eye on the opposition since the draw was made.

“Aaron Fitzsimons, our analyst, has done an unbelievable job pulling together all the clips and presentations for us. We have done as much due diligence on the opposition as we can but ultimately we have to go and perform.

“Stjarnan, albeit they have had an indifferent start to their season, we will have to put in a strong performance.

“Last year, against Fehervar, we played top quality opposition. Four of those players were in the Hungary squad for the Euros. One of them, Attila Fiola, scored against France.

“We are a different group this year though so we will have to adapt. We have some very young players in our squad but these are players that have played in the Uefa Youth League with the club, the likes of Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy.

“We hope that those experiences and the experience of last year with the players who are still with us will stand to us. But we are in no doubt that the opposition are a good side.

“We have to make sure that our preparation has been as good as it can be. We want to give a good account of ourselves.

“It is a big challenge for us. On paper, we have a good chance of progression but Stjarnan will be feeling the very same way.

“We gave as good as we got. We scored some good goals and we deserved to win the game.

“That brings us into this week in a little bit of form and gives us that bit of confidence after we let ourselves down a little bit in Sligo last week.”


Stephen Mallon (hip) a doubt and Promise Omochere (quad) misses out.


SSE Airtricity League
Friday July 2 2021
Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to use tonight’s Dublin derby against St Patrick’s Athletic as a chance to refocus following last week’s bruising 4-0 defeat against Sligo Rovers.

Stephen O’Donnell’s Saints have had Bohs’ number in their two previous meetings this season.

But both defeats were tight affairs – first a 1-0 at Dalymount in the first series of games and then a 2-1 mugging in Richmond Park in May.


Tonight’s opposition top the table on goal difference ahead of Shamrock Rovers and Sligo Rovers, with Bohs eight points adrift in fourth.

Long said: “This is an opportunity to refocus now. They have beaten us twice this season and we know how good a side they are.

“We had been on a good run prior to Sligo and it is important that we try to bounce back with a good performance.”

That defeat in the Showgrounds was a kick in the teeth for Bohs who went into the game in form with four wins in a draw from their previous five games.

But in an encounter that saw both defences carved open with unusual ease, it was Liam Buckley’s Bit O’Red who had their scoring boots on.

Bohs had an abundance of goal-scoring opportunities but could not – other than a Georgie Kelly effort that was controversially ruled offside – find the net.

Long said: “It was a chastening experience in the Showgrounds last Saturday as we struggled badly to follow up our wins here at home to Drogheda and Shamrock Rovers. The truth is we never got going, and were a little fortunate in the end that we did not concede more.

“It looked like we lacked energy and we did not play with the tempo and intensity of recent games.

“Sligo are a good side with good attacking players but we very much contributed to our own downfall, conceding some poor goals and failing to take the chances we created.

“I don’t want to take away from Sligo’s performance but it would have been interesting if the disallowed goal we got just after half-time had stood.

“Having watched the replay back numerous times, it’s difficult to see how Georgie is deemed to be offside and at 2-1 it would have been game-on having started the second half brightly.

“Instead, we conceded a bad third goal and were comprehensively beaten. It was a bad night for us and sometimes that can happen in football but it was not for the lack of effort from the boys.”


Stephen Mallon (hip) remains a doubt.


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.


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.”


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.


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

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.”


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


SSE Airtricity League
Friday June 11 2021
Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, 7.45pm
Live on

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.”


Tyreke Wilson returns from suspension.

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

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