“EMBRACE THE CHALLENGE”

​​DUNDALK v BOHEMIANS
Friday April 21st, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long believes the manner of Bohemians’ recent performances suggests there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Ravaged by injuries in recent weeks, Bohs have lost their last three league games against St Patrick’s Athletic, Sligo Rovers and Cork City.

That dip in form came on the back of a run that saw the Gypsies pick up 10 points from a possible 12 in their previous four games.

And manager Long reckons returning bodies can help his side return to form sooner rather than later.

He said: “We’ve shown in our performances against Sligo and Cork that we are not a million miles off.

READ MORE

“We felt our performances really deserved something out of those two games. We obviously need players back, but we are on the right road.”

Long’s side dominated Sligo in the middle of the park a fortnight ago but frustratingly could not find the back of net, while Karl Sheppard’s long-range dipping volley was a real sucker-punch last week after an otherwise impressive Bohs performance against Cork City.

Clinical Cork went on to score a second three minutes from time through Garry Buckley to secure their ninth league victory in a row and maintain their 100% start to the season.

But Long said: “It was a good display. That second goal put a gloss on the result for them.

“The first goal was a hard one for any keeper to save, but we could have done a bit better defensively in the build-up.

“The second goal was disappointing. It killed any chance we had of getting something out of the game.

“We spoke about mistakes at the back costing us again so we have to stop making them.

“That’s especially the case against Dundalk. If we don’t all do our jobs, they have the players who can expose you.”

Bohs’ chances in recent weeks have not been helped by the lack of a recognised goalscorer.

Ismahil Akinade has missed all of the league campaign to date after undergoing surgery to remove his spleen on March 1. He resumed training last week but is still some way off a return to action.

It had been hoped that Dinny Corcoran (knee), who has not featured since hobbling off against Galway United on St Patrick’s Day, would be ready to return but he will not be risked.

There was more positive news elsewhere though with Jamie Doyle, forced off early against St Pat’s three weeks ago with a quad injury, ready to return.

Midfielder Ian Morris, a real star in Bohs’ opening games of the season, could be set for his first league start in a month.

He has been eased back to action with 20 minutes off the bench against Cork and after playing the first 45 in Monday’s EA Sports Cup 3-1 defeat to Shamrock Rovers.

That loss saw Long keep faith with much of the experimental and youthful line-up that had beaten Cabinteely in the previous round.

Long said: “We made seven changes from the team that started in the league against Cork to the one that started against Rovers.

“We obviously had one eye on the Dundalk game but it was also important to reward the under-19 players who did so well against Cabinteely in the previous round.

“It was a huge step-up for them, playing against a full-strength Rovers team.

“It was never going to be easy against such an experienced line-up and we knew that. But the young lads deserved their chance and that experience so early in their careers will stand to them.

“We lost the game but how they fared bodes well for the future.”

Bohs’ bid to end their losing streak comes against a Dundalk side hurting from their shock defeat to Bray Wanderers last week and desperate to claw back the nine-point advantage Cork currently hold over them at the top of the table.

It’s a daunting task, but Long wants his side to embrace it.

He added: “We have to look after ourselves and our own performance. We’re going up thinking we can get something out of it.

“Dundalk don’t lose many in Oriel Park. We are going have to work hard, play for each other and embrace the challenge.

“It’s a tough test. Dundalk have new players and they will click eventually. We just have to do our best to make sure they don’t click against us.”

TEAM NEWS

Jamie Doyle (quad) returns, while Ian Morris (knee) could be in line for first league start in a month.

Dinny Corcoran (knee), Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain out.

“Nobody will give us a chance”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
Friday April 14th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians are determined to upset the form book when runaway league leaders Cork City come to Dalymount Park on Friday.

The Gypsies host a swaggering side looking to extend their 100% start to the league campaign to nine games.

Manager Keith Long said: “We’re playing a team with eight wins from eight games and six points clear at the top – nobody will give us a chance.

“But we’ve seen shocks around the league most Friday nights, so we will go out in the belief that can be us.

“We’ve had great home support who have been behind us all the way so far and we know they will back us again.”

Such is the early-season congestion around mid-table, sixth-placed Bohs are only two points off fourth but also two points off the relegation spots.

The Gypsies have four points from their four games at Dalymount Park this season and Long is keen for his side to improve their home form to stay ahead of the rest.

He said: “Our home form has been patchy and that’s something we’re looking to rectify.

“We know it won’t be easy but there is great determination within the group to go out and do ourselves justice.”

Bohs’ cause has been hampered by injuries to date and they will continue without several key first-teamers.

Dinny Corcoran (knee) and Jamie Doyle (quad) are still a couple of weeks off fitness, while long-term absentees Eoin Wearen (cruciate) and Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen) remain on the sidelines.

But Ian Morris (knee) could come back into the fray and there was some further good news with Long revealing that Akinade has returned to training.

The striker has been unavailable all season having had surgery on March 1st to remove his spleen.

Long said: “Izzy is back in training this week, doing some gym work and working with the physios.

“The other lads are improving but not as quickly as we would have liked. We’d hoped to have Dinny back but he’s not quite where we need him to be.

“Ian will train tonight and should hopefully come back into contention.”

Key players’ continued absence has provided an opening for others to stake their claim, with the likes of Dean Casey and Fuad Sule starting in the 2-0 defeat away to Sligo Rovers on Saturday.

Sule in particular stood out having only made his first-team debut four nights previously in the EA Sports Cup against Cabinteely.

Long said: “It’s important we reward players. It’s a big step up from playing Cabinteely to playing in the Premier Division and it took him 20 minutes or so to find his feet.

“But he eventually found his rhythm and it was a very good performance from him.

“He’s a young lad and still has a lot to learn. He had a bit of a stop-start pre-season, partially due to his involvement with Maynooth in the Collingwood Cup.

“But that’s over now and he’s catching up. It was a big test for him on Saturday but he did very well.”

Although frustrated not to get anything out of the game, there were plenty of reasons for Long to take the positives out of a performance that saw Bohs dominate the second half despite failing to score.

Long said: “We played very well, but were disappointed with both goals we conceded. We pride ourselves on our set-plays, so it’s disappointing to concede from one.

“We had long periods of real pressure and dominance but didn’t take our chances. I can’t fault the effort in our performance but ultimately we feel we lost three points.

“Such was the momentum we had in the second half, if we’d pulled one back, you’d have fancied us to go on and win it.”

SQUAD GOALS

​SLIGO ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
Saturday April 8th, The Showgrounds, 7.45pm

Three further Bohemians under-19 players will travel with the first team to Sligo on Saturday as manager Keith Long makes full use of his squad during its current injury crisis.

Kian Clarke, Paddy Kirk and Jamie Hamilton join Steven Nolan in making the step up.

Nolan made his first-team debut off the bench in injury-time against Drogheda United a fortnight ago and he followed that up with bagging the winner in Bohs’ 1-0 EA Sports Cup victory against Cabinteely on Tuesday night.

Long made nine changes to his starting line-up for that game and he was pleased with how his experimental XI fared.

Four starters – Kirk, Fuad Sule, Eoghan Morgan and Brandon Perry – were making their first-team debuts, with a further two debutants – Hamilton and Jamie Wilson – coming off the bench.

READ MORE

It was much-needed game-time for others too, with Dylan Hayes and Philip Gannon each getting 90 minutes.

Long said: “They certainly did themselves no harm. The lads did very well, it was a good performance. We dominated the ball for most of the game.

“It’s a squad game, so it’s important to know we’ve got people who can make that step up, especially with the injuries we have at the moment.

“It was important for others to get game-time too. We’re seven games into the league season and it was an opportunity for those who have not played so often to do so against decent opposition.”

Bohemians are once again without Ian Morris (knee), Jamie Doyle (quad), Dinny Corcoran (knee) as well as long-term absentees Eoin Wearen (cruciate) and Izzy Akinade (surgery to remove spleen). Stephen Best (bug) misses out too.

There was some good news, however, with goalkeeper Shane Supple fit to start having been forced off with a hip injury during last week’s loss to St Patrick’s Athletic.

Skipper Derek Pender, who missed the EA Sports Cup victory against Cabinteely through illness, is also available for selection, as is Dean Casey, who hobbled off in that game with an ankle injury.

Long said: “We’d hoped to have Dinny back for this game. But he’s not recovered quite as quickly as we would have liked, so we’re not going to rush him back for tomorrow night’s game.

“It’s a long season and this is just one game – we have to be careful with him.

“Ian’s had an injection in his knee this week, so we are hopeful we will have him back in training ahead of the Cork game next week.

“Jamie got good news with his scan but he will still need a couple of weeks to recover. Shane’s responded well to treatment all week and he’s ready to play.”

Long is demanding Bohs up their game following last week’s bruising 4-0 defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic.

Although the scoreline perhaps flattered the winners, Long is in no doubt that his side deserved nothing from the game.

He said: “Pat’s were better than us, we were far too easy to play against.”

The Gypsies travel to The Showgrounds to face a Sligo team who are second from bottom and without a manager.

Just seven games in, Dave Robertson became the second Premier Division managerial casualty of the season.

Long added: “It’s never nice to see a manager lose their job.

“Sligo will have pride as a group and feel they have something to prove. They probably feel they are in a false position in the league.

“It will be a tough game – I’ve no doubt they will have targeted this fixture.”

“This is a huge opportunity for players”

​BOHEMIANS v CABINTEELY
EA Sports Cup
Tuesday April 4th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

The chance to be included in Saturday’s squad against Sligo Rovers is the prize on offer for players promoted to the Bohemians first team tomorrow.

Manager Keith Long has seen his options curtailed by injuries – with six first-team starters currently sidelined.

Bohs were already without Ian Morris (knee) and Dinny Corcoran (knee) as well as long-term absentees Eoin Wearen (cruciate) and Ismahil Akinade (surgery to remove spleen).

They were joined on the sidelines when Jamie Doyle (knee) and Shane Supple (hip) were both forced off in Friday’s disappointing 4-0 defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic.

Morris and Doyle went for scans on their injuries today and the club is awaiting the results of those.

READ MORE

Supple is ruled out of tomorrow’s game and will continue to receive treatment before he is reassessed.

Corcoran will not be risked against Cabinteely but it is hoped he is nearing a return to action.

With one eye on Saturday’s SSE Airtricity League clash away to Sligo Rovers, Long is not prepared to take unnecessary risks.

His side slipped to fifth after Friday’s loss and the Gypsies will travel to The Showgrounds facing a Bit O’Red team battling for points.

With that in mind, players lacking game-time and under-19 starlets will be given the opportunity to stake their claim tomorrow.

Expected to be included in the matchday squad are promising Ireland under-17 internationals Brandon Kavanagh, Dominic Peppard and Kian Clarke.

Brandon Perry, Cian Fay, Dylan Thornton and Paddy Kirk are among those who could be promoted from Graham Lawlor’s Bohemians under-19s.

Long said: “We have a very good first XI when we have everyone fit and healthy.

“We just can’t afford to lose anymore bodies. Our injuries have effectively dictated who can play.

“But this is a huge opportunity for players from the under-19s to step up.

“It’s a competitive game and with the injuries we have, there are places up for grabs in our squad for Saturday too.

“It’s also a chance for players who have been in and around the first team – the likes of Dylan Hayes – to get a bit of game-time under their belt and show us what they can do.

“We want to win the game, but the chance to be included on Saturday is an extra bit of motivation.”

Against Cabinteely, Bohs face a team flying high in the First Division.

Pat Devlin’s side will be licking their wounds after they squandered a two-goal lead and a chance to go top of the league in their 3-3 draw away to Athlone Town.

They are a club with some familiar faces too, with two-time Bohemian league winner Jason Byrne in their ranks, and former Bohs assistant manager Graham O’Hanlon on their backroom team.

Long added: “They’re doing very well and will be disappointed they’re not go top of the table.

“They’re going to give us a game and it’s up to our players to show they’re up for it.”

“WE’LL NEED THAT GRIT”

​BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
Friday March 31st, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long has warned against complacency as Bohemians look to extend their unbeaten run to five games.

The Gypsies have amassed 10 points from a possible 12 having lost their opening two fixtures of the 2017 season.

That recent run of form has seen Long’s side move up to fourth, but he insisted: “Nobody is getting carried away.

“We’re six games into the season – the league table doesn’t come into consideration at this point.

“I’m more concerned about getting our next result, not about what’s been and gone.”

READ MORE

Bohs’ latest victory was a scrappy 1-0 win away to Drogheda United last Saturday.

Long said: “We didn’t play particularly well, but we got the result.

“They lads dug it out and we will need that grit and determination to get results throughout the season.

“But our first-half performance wasn’t where we wanted it to be.

“We improved in the second half, created a few chances, but Shane Supple did very well to keep it at 0-0 early in the second half.”

The winner came from a swooping header from Dan Byrne after an excellently-placed free-kick from Lorcan Fitzgerald.

For Byrne, a lifetime fan, it was a special moment as he ran the full length of the pitch to celebrate with his son.

Long said “Dan’s been great. He’s in great shape, both mentally and physically.

“I believe he will continue to improve as a player as the season progresses.

“It’s early days but there is great potential in the partnership at the back between him and Rob Cornwall.

“I’ve been delighted with Rob also. He’s come into the club and gone about his business in a quiet and professional manner.”

The victory also saw 16-year-old Steven Nolan make his first-team debut for the club, albeit for the last few moments of injury-time.

Long said: “As a club, we want and need players progressing through to the first team from the Under-17s and Under-19s.

“Steven’s done really well for our Under-17s last season and was promoted to Graham Lawlor’s Under-19s this year.

“He’s someone who looks like he can make the step up and he’s adapted to every challenge so far.”

Bohs host a St Pat’s side who brought their stumbling start to the season to an end with a Dublin derby victory last Saturday.

With just one point from their opening five games, Liam Buckley’s men got off the mark with a morale-boosting 2-1 win against Shamrock Rovers.

Long added: “Pat’s have some excellent players, results were going to come.

“But we have to concentrate on ourselves. Our performance needs to be better than it was in Drogheda.

“We are at home, hopefully we can have another big crowd.

“The fans have given the players a big lift both at home and away so far this year and we hope that will continue.”

TEAM NEWS

Ian Morris (knee) and Derek Pender (groin) are doubts, while Dinny Corcoran (knee) remains out.

Long-term absentees Izzy Akinade (recovering from surgery to have his spleen removed) and Eoin Wearen (cruciate) remain out.

Website by Simon Alcock