Friday March 8 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

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Darragh Leahy believes Bohemians have found the right blend of youth and experience at the back this season.

Doubts were raised as to how Keith Long’s new-look side would cope with the loss of some key men.

With goalkeeper Shane Supple retiring and defensive trio Ian Morris, Dan Casey and Dan Byrne moving to pastures new, Long had to rebuild his back-line.

Finglas man James Talbot, 21, has got the nod between the sticks ahead of fellow new signing Niall Corbet so far and the former Sunderland youth keeper has rewarded Long’s faith in him by keeping four consecutive clean sheets – the first time a Bohs keeper has done so since Brian Murphy in 2009.

His performances thus far have seen him nominated for the February SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers’ Association Player of the Month Award alongside team-mate Dinny Corcoran.

In front of Talbot, 35-year-old captain Derek Pender, who made his 200th appearance for the club against Waterford last week, is as usual leading by example at right-back but is being pushed all the way by the Bohs U19 captain Andy Lyons.

Beside Pender, Rob Cornwall looks to have rediscovered his form of 2017 alongside 20-year-old centre-back James Finnerty, formerly of Aston Villa, who joined during the closed season from Rochdale.

Leahy himself had a stop-start closed season due to the persistence of a hip injury that disrupted his involvement towards the end of last season. He has had a battle on his hands to keep his place at left-back ahead of fellow 20-year-old Paddy Kirk, a product of the Bohs U19s, who has shone when called upon to deputise in his place.

Leahy said: “The manager asked for patience at the start of the season and we are still gelling. But we’re four games unbeaten and long may it continue.

“It’s still very early days. We are only four games in so you have to be realistic. But we’re happy we’re still unbeaten and it was important to get points on the board.

“People are always going to ask questions when you lose players. But we’ve a good mix of youth and experience at the back with Detser (Pender) and Rob in there too.

“I was carrying an injury from last season and Paddy has come in and done well as well so we’ve competition for places there across defence and throughout the team, which is what you want.”

Leahy is a good example of what is required from a young player trying to adapt to the rigours of first-team football for the first time.

A product of Bohs’ partners at St Kevin’s, Leahy joined from Coventry City at the start of last season. He was thrown in at the deep end for his first-team debut against Shamrock Rovers on the opening night of the 2018 campaign aged just 19.

He went on to have a starring role for the Gypsies last term and made the PFAI Team of the Year as well as being included in Stephen Kenny’s first squad as Ireland U21 manager.

Many of Long’s first team are of similar age and inexperience this term with the likes of Talbot, Finnerty, Conor Levingston, Danny Madroiu and Luke Wade-Slater all players returning home after spells in England and experiencing League of Ireland football for the first time.

Leahy said: “It did take me a while to settle in. You can’t take this league for granted and that’s important for younger players coming into the league to realise.

“It’s a tough league and different to playing U23s in England but thankfully the new lads have come in and done well so far.”

Another packed-out home stand is expected when Derry City are welcomed to Dalymount Park tomorrow.

The Jodi Stand sold out for the previous two home games against Finn Harps and Shamrock Rovers and fans are being advised to buy tickets online – www.tickets.bohemians.ie - in advance or risk missing out.

Leahy added:  “The fans were right behind us last year and hopefully we can keep our form up and the crowds will stick with us.

“Derry are always a tough team to play against. We beat them twice last season but like us they have a lot of new players so the challenge will be a different one.

“We’re looking forward to it. The Jodi has been packed for our two home games we’ve had so far. The atmosphere around the place has been buzzing and we want that to continue.”


The squad is likely to remain unchanged meaning Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out, while Kevin Devaney (knee) remains a doubt.

“We’ve got off to a good start but nobody is getting carried away”

SSE Airtricity League
The RSC, Friday March 1 2019, 7.45pm

Two points clear at the top of the table after predictions of a nervy start to the season, Bohemians can be pretty satisfied with how the new campaign has panned out so far.

Keith Long has given debuts to nine players and his new-look side appear to have settled quickly but nobody at Dalymount Park is getting carried away.

They have picked up the maximum nine points from the three games played so far with victories against Finn Harps, UCD and rivals Shamrock Rovers.

But six of those points came against two newly-promoted teams and the other three against a side who have taken just one point from Bohs in their last six league meetings.

Defender Paddy Kirk, 20, said: “Obviously there is always a bit of apprehension at the start of the season when you’ve so many new players as to how the team is going to settle.

“Keith asked for patience from supporters and they’ve been behind us in all three games but thankfully we’ve got off to a good start.

“We’re only three games in though so we’re realistic. Nobody is getting carried away. It’s important to keep your feet on the ground and focus on the next game and no further.”

On the bench for the season opener against Finn Harps, Kirk was one of two changes to the starting line-up for the second game against UCD.

He replaced Darragh Leahy at left-back, while a fellow product and captain of the Bohs U19s, Andy Lyons, replaced skipper Derek Pender at right-back.

In total, Bohs gave game-time to 10 players under the age of 21 that night as the two most youthful line-ups in the division (hat-tip: Will Clarke) went head to head.

With Leahy, included in the 2018 PFAI Team of the Year, his rival for the left-back berth, Kirk is determined to grab every opportunity he is given.

He shone in the win 2-0 win against UCD – his persistence down the left-hand side setting up Bohs’ second goal – and his development as a player by manager Keith Long was highlighted ahead of Monday’s game against Rovers.

He might have felt slightly hard-done-by to find himself on the bench for that game but Kirk is a realist and was once again composed when he came off the bench in Leahy’s place in the 1-0 win.

Kirk, who is studying communications in DCU as well as holding down part-time jobs in the catering department of Trinity College and working with foreign students at DCU, said: “Competition for places is healthy and we have competition all over the team.

“That drives you individually and collectively as a team. It’s always going to be tough for me competing with Darragh but I feel I’ve come on as a player. It’s pleasing to hear the manager say that too and I feel I am ready to play.

“It has been a big step-up from U19s but thanks to Keith, Trevor Croly and the likes of Derek Pender I think I’m improving. I am obviously still learning but the players we have and have had previously help you and make the step-up easier.

“The likes of Detser (Derek Pender), he’s not one to scream and shout but he’s captain for a reason. He leads by example and you watch and learn from that.”

His 30-minute appearance from the bench was Kirk’s first taste of a derby – and he relished it.

He said: “I’ve never got to play against Rovers – even at underage level – so I was delighted to have been a part of it.

“I’m happy with how I did and more importantly the result. It would be easy to let the occasion get to you so I’m glad I was able to contribute.”

Bohs travel to Waterford tomorrow to face a team that finished fourth last season – two places and 11 points ahead of the Gypsies.

Alan Reynolds’ side have one win and two defeats from their opening two games but as a side that took 10 points from Bohs last term, Kirk and Co know they will have to be at their level best to get a result.

He added: “We’ve done our homework on them as we do all teams. We’re going down in good form with three wins and three clean sheets. But they are a very good side.

“We’ve done well at the back so we want to continue to be solid there and build on that.

“All the lads who have come in have settled in so far and James Talbot has done very well since coming in as goalkeeper. He’s been like a young Supps (Shane Supple). Maybe it’s the GAA background… except he’s a bit mad!

“He has settled quickly and the fans have taken to him. He was at Sunderland for four years for a reason so he is obviously very talented and we have another excellent keeper in Niall Corbet so the pair of them are pushing each other all the time.”


Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out. Kevin Devaney (knee) remains a doubt.

“We’ve beaten what’s in front of us but there are tougher challenges ahead”

Keith Long is encouraged by Bohemians’ start to the season but has warned that there are much tougher challenges ahead.

Bohs have won back-to-back games against the division’s newly-promoted sides Finn Harps and UCD.

But the stakes ratchet up several notches when Shamrock Rovers come to Dalymount Park.

The Gypsies have enjoyed the bragging rights against the Hoops lately, winning four and drawing one of the last five, but Long is expecting a tough battle.

Long said: “We’ve done what we can. We’ve beaten what’s in front of us but there are tougher challenges ahead of us, starting against Shamrock Rovers.

“That’s not being in any way disrespectful to Finn Harps or UCD.


“UCD will find their rhythm and Harps have already done so getting a point against Dundalk on Friday.

“We’re in a good place and it’s great to have points on the board but Rovers are a different proposition.

“There is an expectancy there for them to challenge and win titles so we have to be at our very best against them.

“It’s a big step-up again and a different test for us but we’re looking forward to it.

“It’s a quick turnaround playing Friday and Monday but it’s the same for both teams and we haven’t had to travel.”

As always in derby games, the crowd will have their part to play.

Long said: “It’s a derby, a full house and something our new players will have to adapt to quickly.

“We need the crowd behind us again. They followed us over to Belfield in big numbers on Friday after a full home stand in Dalymount the previous week.

“They’ve given us a big lift already this season and we hope they can help us again.”

That trip to face UCD was decided by two beautiful finishes – first from Danny Mandroiu from 25 yards and then from Dinny Corcoran from six yards.

Long said: “They were two good goals, excellent finishes. Danny Mandroiu’s was sensational. Dinny’s was excellent too after great work by Paddy Kirk down the left-hand side.”

Kirk was one of two changes to the starting line-up from opening night. He came in at left-back in place of Darragh Leahy while Andy Lyons replaced skipper Derek Pender.

Both Kirk and Lyons are products of the club’s U19s and Long is delighted with their progression.

He said: “This time last year you would have been wary about putting both in like that but they have both come on so much.

“They’re a credit to themselves and both did very well. It’s good to have that competition across the squad and players who are ready to come in and play when called upon.”

That competition for places has been bolstered up front too by the re-signing of Ali Reghba – another product of the club’s U19s – and the return to fitness of Ryan Swan.

Swan made his long-awaited debut off the bench against Harps and was again used as a substitute against UCD.

Signed ahead of the 2018 season, he failed to see any action all year after suffering a cruciate tear in pre-season.

Long added: “I’m delighted to have Ali back on board. He gives us more options up front and out wide.

“He’s still very young and has a lot to learn but he’s a quick learner too and has worked extremely hard.

“There’s competition up front now with Dinny, Sam Byrne, Ryan and Ali.

“It’s great to have Ryan playing too. He was so unfortunate last year, getting injured in only his second training session.

“He’s worked ever so hard and his attitude has been exemplary. He’s honest, hard-working and they’re the kind of people we want.”


Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out. Kevin Devaney (knee) remains a doubt.


Friday February 22 2019, UCD Bowl, Belfield, 7.45pm

Dinny Corcoran believes Keith Long’s new-look Bohemians can continue to improve as the season progresses.

Corcoran, 30 earlier this month, is the second-oldest player in the squad behind skipper Derek Pender in what is otherwise a youthful and inexperienced Bohs team.

There were five debutants – James Talbot, James Finnerty, Luke Wade-Slater, Conor Levingston, Danny Mandroiu – in the starting line-up on opening night.

Three more – Ryan Swan, Scott Allardice and Sam Byrne – were sprung from the bench as Bohs came out 1-0 winners against Finn Harps at Dalymount last Friday.


Corcoran bagged the winner and said: “It wasn’t the prettiest of games at times but it was the perfect result to start of the season with.

“The new lads settled in and adapted and they’re all looking to continue to improve.

“We have some technically gifted players and I think that will show as the season progresses.

“We’ve got competition in the squad now and that is pushing everyone on. I’m being kept on my toes!”

It took Corcoran seven league games to net his first league goal in 2018 so the fans’ favourite was relieved to start 2019 with an early goal.

He said: “It took me a while to get off the mark last season so I was delighted to score in the first game.”

Bohs go into tonight’s game looking to make it two wins from two against the division’s newly-promoted sides.

But Corcoran warned: “We’re in no position to take any team for granted. We have to be on top of our game.

“They’re a young team with a lot of good, technical players. They’re a bit like ourselves in that way – although we have one or two oldies too!”

He hopes that last week’s sold-out Jodi Stand is a sign of things to come this season and that the Gypsies will have a big support behind them out in Belfield, adding: “It’s a good game for fans, they can make it feel like a home game out there.

“In previous seasons when UCD were in the division before our fans always travelled out in numbers so we should have a big crowd there like we had in Dalymount last week.”


Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out.

Kevin Devaney (knee) was a late withdrawal against Finn Harps and remains a doubt. Danny Grant (hamstring) comes back into contention.

“A packed Jodi Stand can spur on our new players”

Friday February 15th 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians welcome newly-promoted Finn Harps to Dalymount tomorrow with skipper Derek Pender telling his new team-mates to embrace the season’s opening night but warning them to be prepared for a tough battle.

Harps have not beaten the Gypsies at Dalymount Park in 20 years but every point won against Ollie Horgan’s teams is a hard-earned one.

That is a message the experienced Pender – 35 and begining his eighth season at Dalymount Park – is keen to impress upon his inexperienced team-mates.

There is a feeling that there is potential in this Bohs dressing room. Players of experience – such as Shane Supple and Ian Morris – have left and have been replaced by youth.

Pender is the oldest player in the squad by five years with Dinny Corcoran, 30 yesterday, the only other player not in his teens or 20s.

New arrivals such as James Talbot in goals, James Finnerty in defence and Daniel Mandroiu, Luke Wade-Slater and Conor Levingston in midfield, will be hoping to copy the example set by Darragh Leahy, thrown in at the deep end for his debut aged 19 on opening night last season against Shamrock Rovers, and rising to the challenge of first-team football.

Pender said: “We’ve done well against Harps at home when they were in the division before before but we all know that they have got results against us in the past too – most notably in the cup in Ballybofey two years ago – so we expect a really tough opening game.

“People might think they’re a team we should be beating but football doesn’t always work that way. We have a lot of new and young players and it will take time for them to adapt to the physical side of the game in our league.

“We don’t know how long it will take them to adapt. It took us a while to find our rhythm last year but we are determined to get off to a good start this year and hopefully we can click a bit earlier this season.

“It’s a big step for our new players. They’ll soon find that our league is a tough one. You don’t get a minute – it’s fast and furious. They will need to learn quickly and that’s why we try to make our training as competitive as when you’re playing so it’s not such a shock to the system.”

Pender and Co are all the more determined to hit the ground running having had hopes of a positive season curtain-raiser – an IRN-BRU Cup quarter-final against East Fife – dashed due to a frozen pitch at Dalymount a fortnight ago.

Bohs fans turned up in good numbers that Saturday afternoon but left disappointed not to see Keith Long’s new-look side.

Pender said: “There was a good crowd here for the East Fife game and we were disappointed it had to be called off, as I know our fans were too.

“But hopefully that whetted the appetite a bit and we’ll have a big crowd for the first game. A big crowd will be something new for our new players and playing in front of a packed Jodi Stand with our fans behind them will be an experience for them that will really lift them and hopefully spur them on.

“Our fans have really driven us on in recent years and they can really drive our new players on too. They’ve always been behind us, particularly in the last few years.

“Every time I step on to the pitch they give me a lift. I’ve been a player in this league for a good number of years and nothing lifts you like Bohs supporters when they’re behind you.

“Even in the cup semi-final defeat to Cork City last season when we were all so devastated, they stayed behind to lift us. I’ve never experienced anything like what we had there.

“That bond is special and that’s something we want to build on. We always want to give something back to the fans for their support. People might say that’s a cliche but for me it’s not – I really mean it.”


Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) all miss out.

Website by Simon Alcock