“CONFIDENCE IS KEY”

GALWAY UTD v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Eamonn Deacy Park, Saturday 26 March 2016, 2pm

Keith Long says Bohemians’ midweek EA Sports Cup success can provide the springboard to kick on in the league against Galway United on Saturday.

The Gypsies conceded three goals in consecutive league games in a defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic (0-3) and a draw against Wexford Youths (3-3).

But a strong second-half display on Tuesday saw Long’s men return to form with a 3-1 victory against Longford Town in the EA Sports Cup.

Long said: “Confidence is key. Winning is a habit, but losing can also become a habit. It was important we got that victory under our belts.

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“We didn’t make wholesale changes in personnel in the off-season. But there is a bit of an ongoing evolution in how we want to play.

“We haven’t had the start we would have liked. But I’m confident we have more about us than we have shown so far and that we will get better and continue to improve.

“We know we have to defend better than we have done in previous games and cut out the mistakes we’ve been making.

“We’re still finding that balance in terms of being difficult to play against at the back and how we want to attack teams when we’re in possession.”

Bohs know all too well that getting a result in Eamonn Deacy Park will be no easy task. Despite beating the Tribesmen twice at Dalymount Park last season, the Gypsies came unstuck out west in both the league (3-5) and EA Sports Cup (0-1, AET).

Long said: “We know it will be a tough game. Galway have had a bright start to the season, beating St Pat’s away in their opening game. They were very unlucky to come away from Derry last week with nothing too.

“Tommy Dunne will have his lads well up for it. It’s up to us to be ready for that and to give a complete performance for 90 minutes.”

Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Kurtis Byrne (foot) are back in contention, but Eoin Wearen (virus) remains out.

Ismahil Akinade, who came off with a hamstring strain against Longford, returned to training today but faces a late fitness test tomorrow.

The availability of Roberto Lopes (virus) is also considered extremely doubtful.

“WE CAN’T FAULT THEIR DETERMINATION”

BOHEMIANS v LONGORD TOWN
EA Sports Cup Rd 1, Dalymount Park, Tuesday 22 March 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long has told Bohemians to eradicate mistakes at the back if they want to progress in the EA Sports Cup on Tuesday night.

The Gypsies showed great character to battle back three times to salvage a 3-3 draw at home to Wexford Youths on Friday.

But having also conceded three goals in the 3-0 defeat away to St Patrick’s Athletic four days previously, Long knows his side need to shore up.

Long said: “One thing we couldn’t fault the team on was their determination on Friday. They didn’t let their heads drop and showed great spirit to come back three times.

“But we know we shouldn’t have been behind three times in the first place.

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“We will make changes tomorrow night. We need to eradicate mistakes and we will be putting out a team we feel are capable of winning the game.

“This is a competition we want to progress and do well in, so it’s important we don’t lose sight of that either.”

Long sought to address issues in defence against Wexford Youths with Daniel Byrne, who missed most of last season with cruciate and cartilage injuries, replacing Derek Prendergast after just 35 minutes.

He said: “I could have taken off any one of six or seven players at that stage, Del was the unlucky one.

“We needed someone to settle things down at the back. We were being bombarded by set pieces.

“Dan has great physical stature and he helped settle things. It was good for Dan too as he hasn’t played a lot of football in the last year or so.”

Another positive for the Gypsies was the performance of midfielder Ayman Ben Mohamed on his home league debut.

Long added: “Ayman was great, he was a real bright spark. He tired towards the end as he’s missed parts of pre-season and needs more game-time.

“But it was a fantastic home debut, we were really pleased with him. Mazy runs, taking on the opposition – that’s what fans want to see.”

Eoin Wearen (virus) is unavailable for selection again, while Kurtis Byrne (foot) also looks set to miss out. Anto Murphy (hamstring) is a doubt.

“WE WANT A 90-MINUTE PERFORMANCE”

BOHEMIANS v WEXFORD YOUTHS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 18 March 2016, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Keith Long has challenged his side to show what they are made of.

On Monday, the Gypsies conceded two goals in the opening 13 minutes before eventually succumbing to a 3-0 Dublin derby defeat away to St Patrick’s Athletic.

And Long wants to put that right when Wexford Youths provide the opposition at Dalymount Park on Friday night.

He said: “It was extremely disappointing. It was a very poor performance and they were bad goals to concede.

“We’ve got to bounce back and put that right. Let’s get back on the horse, give a spirited performance and show what we are made of.”

Despite newly-promoted Wexford losing their opening three games, Long is taking nothing for granted.

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He said: “They’re a good side and have been playing together under Shane Keegan for a few years now. They’re improving and only lost by the odd goal against Dundalk on Monday.”

Mistakes at the back are proving a concern – Bohs’ only clean sheet of the season so far came in the 1-0 victory against Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park last Friday.

Long said: “We’ve conceded five goals in three games. We’ve got to tighten up both individually and collectively.

“We have to play to our strengths, become difficult to play against again and stop giving away soft goals.”

Despite a two-goal deficit at the break, Bohs looked like getting back into the game in the second half against the Saints before the dismissal of Ismahil Akinade for a second booking ended any hopes of a comeback.

Long said: “We obviously had words at half-time. For a 20-minute period in the second half, we dominated the game albeit without creating as many chances as we would have liked.

“But the game is played over 90 minutes, not 20. We’ve got to put in a 90-minute performance against Wexford Youths.”

Bohs’ chances against St Pat’s weren’t helped by the late withdrawals of defenders Anto Murphy (virus) and Lorcan Fitzgerald (calf).

Long said: “It doesn’t help when 50% of your back four is ruled out just before a game. But I am not making excuses for our performance, you play with the hand you’re dealt.”

Viral infections have again hampered preparations for the visit of Wexford Youths, with the availability of Murphy, Stephen Best and Eoin Wearen in doubt.

Fitzgerald (calf) is also a doubt, while Akinade is serving a one-game suspension for his red card against St Pat’s.

“We’ll take the game to St Pat’s”

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Richmond Park, Monday 14 March 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long says Bohemians intend to “take the game to St Pat’s” in the Dublin derby at Richmond Park on Monday.

After an opening night defeat to Cork City, a stunning finish by Kurtis Byrne got the Gypsies’ season up and running with a 1-0 win against Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park on Friday.

Bohs boss Long said: “It was a great goal by Kurtis. He took it early and caught the keeper out, so we’re really pleased that he scored on his competitive home debut.

“It was a real bit of brilliance in a game that probably lacked quality throughout.

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“We were facing into the unknown a bit with a Sligo team containing so many new faces.

“If you had offered me a scrappy 1-0 win before the game, I’d have taken it.

“Sligo are a good side and will cause teams problems when all their new players settle in, so we were delighted to get the three points against them.”

Facing into a third league game in 11 days, Long is eager for his side to push on now.

He said: “There have been changes at St Pat’s with plenty of new faces. They’re fancied to be up there at the end of the season.

“But we can go to Richmond with confidence after Friday’s result, knowing we can improve on that as well.

“Without dominating possession against Sligo, we created enough chances to increase our lead. I’m confident there are goals in this side.”

With Roberto Lopes returning from his one-match ban, Long has a full squad to choose from.

He added: “It’s great to have competition for places. A selection headache is not a bad complaint to have.

“While we’ve no major concerns, games are coming thick and fast now. It is our third game already after a long off-season, so we don’t want to over-extend players either.”

“We are feeling positive and are looking forward to it”

BOHEMIANS v SLIGO ROVERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 11 March 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long has urged Bohemians to show more quality on the ball as they aim for victory in their first home league game of the season.

Bohs and Sligo Rovers tasted defeat in their league openers last weekend, so both sides will be determined to get points on the board when they go head-to-head on Friday night.

Long said: “We don’t have to pick them up after last week – that comes from within. The team are feeling positive and are looking forward to it.

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“It’s been a long off-season and it’s our first home game. Supporters have been waiting for Friday night football at Dalymount Park for months now.

“We will be doing our level best to win and give them a good performance.”

Second-half defensive errors saw the Gypsies succumb to a 2-0 loss away to Cork City last Friday.

But there were plenty of positives to take from the game too, with Long’s men on top in the opening half against a side who have finished runners-up for the past two seasons.

Long said: “We went down with a game-plan that worked to a point. We had been good defensively and played a lot of the game in Cork’s half.

“There wasn’t a lot in it, but we were slow coming out in the second half and it was a bad first goal to concede – a basic error.

“We didn’t recover from it. To concede again ten minutes later meant the game-plan went out the window.”

Long admits Bohs are still a work in progress and has identified areas where he believes they need to improve.

He said: “As well as trying to reproduce the level of our first-half performance from last week, we also want to add to that a bit more quality when we’re on the ball.

“But we know we’re not the finished article yet. We are still integrating new signings and we’re looking to improve.”

Another man looking to integrate new players will be Long’s opposite number tomorrow, new Sligo Rovers manager Dave Robertson.

The former Peterborough United boss handed debuts to eight of his starting XI in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds.

Long added: “With so many new players having signed from England, Sligo are something of an unknown quantity this season.

“We went to watch them on Saturday and were somewhat unlucky to lose by two goals having had two players sent off.

“They’ve good players and played well, but we have identified areas we hope to exploit too.”

Bohs have no injury concerns going into the game with Roberto Lopes, who serves a one-match ban after being sent off against Cork, the only absentee.

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