“How these players have come in and performed gives me great hope”

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
September 20 2019, 7.45pm

Keith Long is hoping Bohemians can deliver some teenage kicks in Derry City tonight.

Bohs come into the game with a continuing injury crisis. Keith Ward (knee) returns but the Gypsies are set to be without Darragh Leahy (ankle), Danny Mandroiu (hip), Keith Buckley (hamstring) and Conor Levingston (groin) once more as well as long-term absentees Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate), while Robbie McCourt has decided to leave the club.

The mounting injuries have seen young guns such as 19-year-old Ryan Graydon, 18-year-old Ross Tierney and 17-year-old Dawson Devoy fast-tracked into the first team.

All three have come through the Bohs-SKB League of Ireland youth teams and started in the 2-1 defeat at home to Waterford a week ago, retaining their places for the 2-0 FAI Cup quarter-final win against Crumlin United
Long said: “We have had our hand forced with the number of injuries we’ve had. These lads are playing out of necessity.

“As I said before we know this is the business end of the season and the priority for us is results at this point and not development.

“But how these players have come in and performed gives me great hope for the future.

“They will be better players from this experience and we will be all the better for it as a club as well.

“We’ve had so many players out that it can be difficult to put a shape or structure to things at times but the lads have come in and coped really well with the demands put on them.

“It shows we are progressing as a club. We have quality young players who really want to play for Bohs. They have an affinity for the club and they want to express themselves. They are all working extremely hard but we have to be patient with them.

“As well as the lads coming in for the first time now, it is easy to forget the age of some of the others because they have been around the first team for so long.

“Danny Grant 19, Luke Wade-Slater 21, Andy Lyons 19. Scott Allardice looks older but he’s only 21. Rob Cornwall is an elder statesman in the team and he’s only 24!

“They put in a professional performance against Crumlin. We could have scored more but they are a good side and it was a potential banana skin so I was pleased with the result.”

While the performances being put in by the young guns are a source of great pride, youthful inexperience can also be punished. That was the case against Waterford and would a concern against a team of Derry’s quality.

Long said: “We have to eradicate mistakes at the back. Our early-season run was build on being solid at the back and being hard to beat. We’ll need that again tonight to get a result in the Brandywell.”

It is a mammoth two weeks for Bohs. They are currently in third on 49 points but have played one more game than the Candystripes, who are just two points behind.

And next week Bohs host Shamrock Rovers in the semi-finals of the FAI Cup looking to make the final having gone so close to reaching it last season.

Long added: “It’s going to be a huge occasion. Derry are having a great season.

“We have great numbers travelling up behind us again, which is hugely appreciated by us all. We’ll need that support too as the Brandywell will be bouncing.

“We want to be involved in big games. It’s a difficult place to go at the best of times but there is a real enthusiasm at Derry City again under Declan Devine so we will have to be at our very best.

“Last year. We had momentum second half of the season which carried into the start of this season.

“We’ve faltered slightly at times in recent months. Injuries have come at bad times for us which has been frustrating.

“But we are third in the table, in the semi-final of the cup and everything is in our own hands.”

“WE NEED A BIG CROWD BEHIND US FROM THE START”

CRUMLIN UTD v BOHEMIANS
Extra.ie FAI CUP QUARTER-FINAL
Monday September 16 2019, Richmond Park, 8pm

Keith Long wants a big travelling support at Richmond Park tonight as they look to reach the semi-finals of the FAI Cup for the second year running.

Bohemians travel to Inchicore to take on Leinster Senior League side at the home of St Patrick’s Athletic with a home semi-final against Shamrock Rovers on Friday week at stake.

Kick-off is 8pm but congestion is expected so it is advised to arrive early.

Bohs have ridden their luck against First Division sides in this competition. That fact coupled with a mounting injury crisis means nobody in the first-team set-up will be taking tonight’s opposition lightly.

In the first round, Long’s men found themselves 2-0 down against Shelbourne as late as the 85th minute but grabbed the tie by the scruff of the neck to win it 3-2 in injury-time.

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The goalscorers that night – Keith Buckley and Danny Mandroiu – are among seven players likely to miss out tonight because of injury.

Mandroiu and Darragh Leahy’s involvement with the Ireland U21s’ Euro 2021 qualifiers against Armenia and Sweden was one of the reasons for this tie not taking place on the scheduled weekend of September 6/7/8.

Cruelly, their involvement with the U21s saw them both pick up injuries that now sees them miss tonight’s game anyway.

As well as difficulties against Shelbourne, in the last round, Bohs needed a penalty shootout to progress against Longford Town.

Crumlin are a side with League of Ireland pedigree throughout their team.

Dean Kelly – Bohs’ two-goal hero in the memorable 3-1 2015 Dublin derby win over Shamrock Rovers famously captured by Copa 90 – is in their ranks. So too are fellow former Bohs men Craig Walsh and Conor Murphy.

Other players of note include Robbie Brady’s brothers Liam and Gareth in midfield as well as John Sheridan, a consistent performer in the Premier Division for many years most memorably in spells with Bray Wanderers and Galway United.

Long said: “Crumlin have good players. They would more than hold their own in the First Division if not more. They’re a settled team who will fancy having a go at us.

“We are favourites and rightly so. It is a tie we are expected to win. But we have to give Crumlin the respect you give every team as they do have players who can hurt you. Our performance has to be right.

“It’s a cup quarter-final. We all want to progress. Crumlin will have a big support out for them and it’s vitally important that we bring a big crowd over behind us from the start as well.”


Bohs’ 2-1 defeat to Waterford on Friday was disheartening in respect of the side’s efforts to consolidate its position in third place.

They remain there for now thanks to St Pat’s drawing with UCD at home and Derry City not having a league game at the weekend due to their involvement in the EA Sports Cup final where they lost on penalties to Dundalk.

But while Friday’s result rankled, there were many positives to take from the performance.

Andy Lyons, 19, at right-back won the official man-of-the-match award from RTÉ but there was a starring role in the centre of the park from 18-year-old Ross Tierney and an encouraging full debut from 17-year-old Dawson Devoy alongside 19-year-old Ryan Graydon.

All four came through either the Bohs U19s and Bohs-SKB U17s.

Another man who came through the Bohs U19s was Danny Grant, who despite not training all week due to a viral infection, made an immediate impact off the bench, receiving a pass from Devoy to set up Tierney to slot home for Bohs’ only goal of the game.

The average age of the starting Bohs team was 21½. Take captain Derek Pender out, it was 20½.

While Bohs and St Kevin’s have rightly earned plaudits for the progression of young players coming through from Bohs-SKB LOI teams through to the U19s and on to the first team, on this occasion the extent of youth and inexperience on show was by necessity rather than design.

Long said: “We’re at the business end of the season when results matter more than development. But with the injuries we have at the moment, our hand was forced.

“Our defending for the goals wasn’t good enough but I was proud of how many of the lads did. A lot of the players unavailable are across midfield. It’s a big step-up from U19s to first-team football and it takes players a while to adapt but the lads who have played did very well.

“Ross has come in a few times and he’s done very well for us and Dawson is only a boy at 17 but did well and this will stand to him. They tired a bit towards the end but that is to be expected. They are not yet used to the tempo and intensity of first-team football.

“Scott Allardice was excellent too. He’s had to be patient to get a chance in the team but he showed what he is capable of on Friday.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohs are without Darragh Leahy (ankle), Danny Mandroiu (hip), Keith Buckley (hamstring), Keith Ward (knee), Conor Levingston (groin), Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate).

“We have some very good young players at the club and more coming through”

BOHEMIANS v WATERFORD
SSE Airtricity League
Friday September 13 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Match sponsor: Techsure. Matchball sponsor: The Hut

James Talbot say Bohemians need to trust themselves from the start in games to consolidate their position in third place.

With six league games remaining, Bohs have amassed 49 points, two more than Derry City and three ahead of St Patrick’s Athletic.

Last time out against tonight’s opposition Bohs needed an injury-time from Michael Barker when the sides met in the RSC.

Bohs are missing some key men tonight in midfield but Talbot believes there is quality to step up.

Talbot said: “Waterford have talented players and we will show them respect. We have to be right from the start and we need the crowd behind us.

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“Every game for us between now and the end of the season is a cup final.

“I’ll take three points any way you get them. Obviously getting that winner down there in injury-time was a great moment but injury-time winners aren’t great for the heart!”

An ever-present in the league this season, Talbot was one of several regular starters left at home as an experimental side travelled to Scotland where they lost out 3-2 to Airdrieonians in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Scottish Challenge Cup.

The tournament is considered an unnecessary headache by some but having psyched himself for his Bohs debut in the competition in February only for the tie against East Fife to be called off due to a frozen pitch, Talbot was one player who fancied a crack at it.

He laughed: “It was the tournament I was supposed to make my debut in so I wanted to go to Scotland, I wanted to play!”

But he knows there is bigger priorities ahead. Every point at this stage of the season is crucial and he hopes his team-mates can build on their positive second half performance against Shamrock Rovers a fortnight ago.

Bohs’ eight-game unbeaten run against Rovers game to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Tallaght Stadium but the manner in which they finished the game was encouraging.

Talbot said: “It was disappointing to lose a derby but there were positives to take from the second half. We hit the post, we had balls cleared off the line so it was disappointing not to get something from it.

“We need to start games better than we did against Rovers. We need to trust ourselves to play with the belief from the start.”

While many first teamers got a weekend off last week – two of Bohs’ key men were representing their country in the Ireland U21s’ European qualifier wins against Armenia and Sweden.

Darragh Leahy has been an ever-present at left-back for the Ireland U21s under Stephen Kenny this season, while fellow ex-St Kevin’s man Danny Mandroiu got a chance to show what he can do on the international stage when he was sprung from the bench in Tallaght against Armenia last week before starting in Sweden on Tuesday.

Their involvement came at a cost though, with Mandroiu forced off with a hip injury that sees him ruled out tonight.

That has added to the selection headache with Keith Buckley (hamstring) and Keith Ward (knee) also missing out while Conor Levingston (groin) is a major doubt.

Talbot is no stranger to representing his country at international level. He has won caps at youth level and his early-season form was rewarded with a call-up by Ireland senior team manager Mick McCarthy for the Euro 2020 qualifiers doubleheader against Denmark and Gibraltar.

Until this season, the last Bohemians player to be capped at U21 level was Paddy Madden in 2009 so for the club to have two starring for them now is an achievement.

And with four Bohs-SKB players capped for the Ireland U17s’ friendlies against Russia in Spain in the last week, it is hoped we won’t have to wait another decade for further players to be honoured at U21 level.

Talbot added: “The two lads were buzzing. Darragh is such a good pro and that’s why he’s been in every team for Stephen Kenny.

“The two of them were outstanding. Danny showed his quality too. It’s great to see them get that recognition and do so well representing us for Ireland.

“That’s what you want, you want to see Bohs players being around international teams and to develop and push on further.

“We have some very good young players at the club and more coming through – the likes of Rossie Tierney and Dawson Devoy will hopefully be in contention down the line.”

TEAM NEWS

Darragh Leahy and Danny Mandroiu return from international duty but the latter is set to miss out with a hip injury sustained in Ireland U21s’ win over Sweden on Tuesday.

Keith Buckley (hamstring) and Keith Ward (knee) will also miss out while Conor Levingston (groin) is a major doubt.

Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out.

“It’s a good opportunity for players to show what they can do”

AIRDRIEONIANS v BOHEMIANS
Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Scottish Challenge Cup
Saturday September 7, Excelsior Stadium, 1pm

The involvement of Irish clubs in the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Scottish Challenge Cup has come in for much criticism and derision.

Even the name of it seems to invite a sneer.

But for Robbie McCourt, the competition formerly known as the IRN-BRU Cup, already holds fond memories and represents an opportunity for him and many like him to stake their claim for first-team football.

Glasnevin man McCourt, a product of Bohs’ partners St Kevin’s Boys, returned home last summer after three years with West Brom.

And it was in this competition that McCourt made his first-team debut in a 1-0 win away to Peterhead this time 12 months ago.[t0ggle title="READ MORE"]

Ali Reghba, who signed for Premier League Leicester City in July, did likewise.

McCourt, 21, said: “I played 80 minutes and I enjoyed it. Ali made his debut in that game too and look at him now.”

Both were then thrust into league action a fortnight later in a Dublin derby against St Pat’s. McCourt bagged one and Reghba netted twice in a 3-1 win in Richmond Park.

McCourt said: “Yeah that was a good game, an enjoyable one for me and for Ali getting the goals. That’s where I kind of announced myself as a Bohs player and I want to be able to do that again.”

Players of similar inexperience could find themselves sampling first-team football for the first time tomorrow with the carrot of further opportunities dangling in front of them.

With bigger priorities ahead, several regular starters have been left at home.

Instead, this tournament is being used as a chance to give those on the fringes of the first team some game-time and to expose some of the U19s to first-team football.

Six of Craig Sexton’s current U19 squad – Seán Bohan, Mitchell Byrne, Alex Kelly, Ross Tierney, Brandon Bermingham and Dawson Devoy – are included in the travelling party who made the journey today from Dublin to Belfast to get a ferry to Cairnryan and coach onwards to Motherwell where they will stay overnight tonight.

McCourt said: “It’s a good opportunity for players to get a chance to show what they can do, to make a name for themselves. The lads coming up from the U19s tomorrow and who might get an opportunity know it’s a chance to play themselves into the reckoning.

“Everyone in the group want to win this competition. It’s something different but I think it’s a good tournament. There’s some good teams in it and we’re coming up against opposition we wouldn’t otherwise.”

While McCourt is a fan of the tournament, not everyone is so keen.

Scottish clubs and media alike have questioned the merit – and expense – in inviting League of Ireland, Irish League, Welsh League and English Conference teams to compete in it.

Last season Bohs were the first League of Ireland club to win a tie in the tournament and went one further to reach the quarter-finals by beating English side Sutton United in a dramatic penalty shootout.

The fact that the quarter-final tie was scheduled to take place after the League of Ireland season had finished invited further scrutiny as to the benefit of Irish clubs’ involvement.

Bohs’ offer to extend their season to accommodate the last-eight tie against East Fife being played in November was ignored by many of the detractors in the Scottish media, however.

The Gypsies instead agreed to a date in February, despite it being in pre-season and thus weakening their chances of progression. But much to the dismay of supporters who travelled over from Scotland, the tie was called off due to a frozen pitch minutes before it was due to kick off.

Running out of available dates to fulfill the tie and with the League of Ireland kicking off a week later, the decision was made to withdraw from that season’s tournament.

None of that has served to endear Irish clubs’ involvement to a skeptical Scottish football family.

In Ireland, similar doubts exist.

The fact the FAI Cup quarter-finals are scheduled the same week as when Irish clubs are supposed to compete in the Scottish Challenge Cup is a source of much frustration.

Many argue – convincingly – that Irish clubs’ participation in the Scottish Challenge Cup taking precedence over the last-eight of the FAI Cup is an insult to the country’s premier cup competition.

It is particularly frustrating considering the same scheduling clash occurred last season. Once was perhaps understandable, but for it to happen a second time is hard to fathom.

Ultimately international call-ups to Derry City players last season meant that FAI Cup tie would not proceed on the scheduled date anyway.

Similarly, Ireland U21 call-ups for Danny Mandroiu and Darragh Leahy this time around mean Bohs’ FAI Cup quarter-final against Crumlin United would not have proceeded this weekend either.

But if Irish clubs are to continue in this tournament, the scheduling of the FAI Cup ought to be addressed and given the respect it deserves.

None of those concerns will come into the players’ thinking when they line out tomorrow. It is a chance to play their way into Keith Long’s first-team plans.

McCourt added: “I haven’t played much but when I do play, I like to give my all for the team. It’s a chance to show what we can do. Hopefully I can get in and play as many game as I can.

“We’ve important games coming up in the league and cup between now and the end of the season and you want to play in those.

“Obviously it can be frustrating not playing but the lads who have been there have playing very well. The likes of Keith Buckley and Conor Levingston, they have a good partnership so it’s been hard for me and the likes of Scotty Allardice to get in.

“When we have got in, I think we’ve played well but with such good midfielders it’s a difficult task to stay in the team.

“But the best thing about this group is that everyone pushes each other. In training we’re all on to each other the whole time as we all want the best for the team.

“That’s why we’ve done well so far this season and we want to continue that and push ourselves even further.”[/toggle]

“Each game is a new one and you can’t be thinking about previous meetings”

SHAMROCK ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday August 30 2019, Tallaght Stadium, 8pm

Derek Pender believes the best chance of continuing Bohemians’ recent record against Shamrock Rovers is forgetting it exists in the first place.

Bohs travel to Tallaght Stadium tomorrow looking to continue a remarkable run against their arch-rivals of seven wins and a draw in their last eight meetings.

The last time Rovers claimed the Dublin derby bragging rights was May 2017. But second in the table and unbeaten in 10 domestic games, there is more expectation than ever on Stephen Bradley’s Hoops going into this fixture.

For Bohs skipper ‘Detser’, that is not something he or his team-mates will dwell on. Their number one priority is making sure their own performance is the best it can be.

He said: “We’re looking forward to it. The Dublin derbies are great occasions to play in for both sets of players. It’s a game every player wants to be involved in.

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“People go on about the record, but that’s not something we can think about. Each game is a new one and you can’t be thinking about previous meetings.

“Rovers are in great form at the moment, so it would be foolish to think about any previous games against them.

“We know how important these games are important to fans. But we’re under no illusions as to how tough a game it will be.

“Fans have been right behind us in recent years – not just in Rovers games. But in games like that they really get behind you which is hugely important and gives everyone a lift, particularly somewhere like Tallaght.”

While Rovers come into the game in good form, Bohs’ is a bit on the bumpy side.

In recent weeks they have had it all: The release of coming from 2-0 down at 85 minutes to beat Shelbourne 3-2 in the FAI Cup, the elation of notching the club’s record league victory in a 10-1 win against UCD, the humiliation of a 6-1 defeat to Dundalk in the EA Sports Cup and, most recently, the relief of scraping past Longford Town in the FAI Cup on penalties.

It has been a roller-coaster few games. But Pender admits the team’s performances during that period need to be improved upon if they are to get anything out of tomorrow’s game.

Pender, 34, said: “UCD game aside, we haven’t been playing as well as we are capable of. We know we can do better.

“The performance in Dundalk was probably the worst we’ve played in about three years.

“The most important thing was we got over the line against Longford last week. We started afresh this week in training and it’s been a good week.

“Training has been positive and now we want to go out and give a performance we are capable of.”

Pender has for several seasons been deservedly one of the first names on the teamsheet but over the past year, Andy Lyons has started to challenge him for that right-back berth.

Ireland U19 star Lyons has deputised ably when called upon and benefited from Pender’s recent lengthy suspension for the post-match melee away to UCD in July.

Manager Keith Long will have another welcome headache deciding between the two tomorrow.

In a recent preview, Lyons hailed the impact his captain has had on his development. He said: “Detser has been great to me as he has been to all the younger players and squad as a whole. He looks after all the younger players.

“You learn so much from him all the time both on the pitch and off the pitch but because we play the same position, he has taught me so much on top of that.

“He makes you a better player every time you train with him. He’s been marking some of the same players for 8/9/10 years and he will always help me by giving me little snippets of information on them if I’m playing and how to mark them.”

Despite battling for the same spot in the team, the respect Pender has for a player 15 years his junior is mutual.

Pender said: “Andy has been brilliant for us since he broke into the team last year. Because of how good he has been you forget how young he is. He only did his Leaving Cert this year, which he gets a bit of slagging about.

“But it doesn’t matter what age he is. He’s shown he’s good enough and it’s important that we have that competition throughout the team and it pushes us all on.”

TEAM NEWS

Conor Levingston and Keith Ward are both rated 50/50 with groin strains. Ryan Graydon (ankle) also a doubt.

Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) and Dinny Corcoran (ankle) remain unavailable.

Website by Simon Alcock