Preview: College Corinthians v Bohemians

FAI Cup First Round
Sunday July 25 2021
Turner’s Cross, 3pm
Live on LOITV for €5

Keith Long is likely to shuffle his pack for this afternoon’s FAI Cup clash away to College Corinthians at Turner’s Cross following Thursday’s tiring and hard-fought win in the Europa Conference League qualifiers.

Changing personnel did not have the desired effect last week against Longford Town, but those given a chance today do not need to look far for inspiration as to how they might be rewarded should they seize their opportunity.

Last week, 16-year-old Jamie Mullins became Bohs’ youngest scorer in the League of Ireland – his wonderful effort a rare highlight in an otherwise frustrating afternoon for Bohs as they drew 1-1 at home to Longford.

On Thursday, Dawson Devoy was the architect for Ross Tierney to score the winner in a 1-0 win away to Dudelange in the Europa Conference League qualifier first leg.

All three came through at St Kevin’s, through the Bohs-SKB U17s, through the Bohemians U19s and into the first team.

Manager Keith Long said: “It was a great ball by Dawson. Ali Coote made a great run from outside to in, which caused confusion in their back line.

“The keeper came together with Ali and the ball spilled for Rossi to slot home – another important goal by Rossi for the club.

“Ross has created goals for us this year, he’s scored goals for us, he is a total nuisance for the opposition outside the box in terms of pressing and chasing down balls. He is a total bag of energy. He can get around the pitch really, really well.

“For his tender age, he has played a lot of games for the club over the past three years. He’s come through at St Kevin’s, through our Bohs-SKB U17s and then through our U19s to the first team.

“He has been in and around our first team now for quite a number of years but he has really stepped up this year and taken his game to another level.”

Mullins, Devoy and Tierney have all seized first-team opportunities when given them, and Long has proven time and time again that he is willing to give young players a platform, when the time is right, to show what they are capable of.

That will certainly be in the minds of any young player chosen to play against College Corinthians. Changes are inevitable, but Long will not show his hand until he names his team later today.

He said: “We don’t want there to be an upset. We have to go down and look after our performance and to make sure we recover well from Thursday.

“We have the same squad to choose from that went to Luxembourg, so Promise Omochere is our only absentee.

“You have the likes of Stephen Mallon who has been back on the bench in recent games and is eager to play.”

Bohs came home from Luxembourg on Thursday night with an extremely hard-fought 1-0 win to bring into this week’s return leg against Dudelange at the Aviva Stadium on Thursday.

The Gypsies left everything on the pitch as they were put to the pin of their collar in the second half when Dudelange threw everything at them.

Speaking after the game, Long said: “Dudelange grew stronger into the game the longer it went on as you would expect.

“We defended really well, which was really important, and we saw the game out. It wasn’t a comfortable win. They threw bodies forward at us and really tested our organisation.

“We had to bring some bodies on ourselves. In those conditions, it was really hot and challenging, the boys dug out a great result.

“The pitch was poor too, the Aviva pitch will suit them better as it will us.

“It’s a cliche, but it is only half-time in the tie. They are a very good side, they’re big and strong, and they have good players.

“They’ll be better fitness-wise after that game and they will be better tactics-wise after seeing us at close hand.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are likely to make changes, but Promise Omochere (quad) is the only confirmed absentee.

Preview: Bohemians v Longford Town

SSE AIRTRICITY LEAGUE
Sunday July 18 2021
Dalymount Park, 4pm
Streamed live on LOITV
Audio-described commentary: access4all.bohemians.ie

Keith Long has reminded his players that nights to remember like Thursday just gone won’t come around too often unless you get your domestic form right too.

The Bohemians manager could shuffle his pack a little after that fantastic but energy-sapping 3-0 Europa Conference League qualifier win against Icelandic side Stjarnan.

With a trip to Luxembourg to look forward to as Bohs travel to face F91 Dudelange on Thursday, supporters may already have one eye on that game but for Long and his players, they are firmly focused on the task at hand today.

200 fans will be in Dalymount Park this afternoon when Longford Town provide the opposition. They will do well to recreate the atmosphere that 6000 did at the Aviva Stadium. But Long’s team will be out to recreate Thursday’s performance.

Long said: “We hope we recover well from Thursday’s game. Nights like that don’t happen unless you look after today’s game and games like them.

“We want to get back into Europe and to be playing in Europe on an annual basis. As soon as Thursday night’s game finished, focus immediately turned to Longford.

“We have depth in our squad and we have a squad for a reason. We have quality players bursting at the seams wanting to play.

“It’s our job to manage that and to manage the potential of the squad.

“Whatever team we pick today will be ready. We have to make sure we look after our domestic form and not get too carried away and stay on an even keel.”

While it is back to business for Long and Co, supporters are still on cloud nine after finally being together under the one roof – 6000 of them creating the noise and energy of 60,000.

The team repaid that support in spades with a near-flawless 3-0 win, Georgie Kelly helping himself to a brace with housemate Liam Burt grabbing the third as the Gypsies progressed 4-1 on aggregate.

That was the first time since 2008 that the club won a tie in Europe, and the first time since the 1992 FAI Cup final that Bohs played/won at Lansdowne Road.

Long said: “It took us a while to find our rhythm but we started to get some balls into the box and we started to ask some questions of their defence.

“The pressure told when Dawson Devoy got a cross into the box and Georgie Kelly was on hand to finish – a great finish.

“In the second half, they came into it for a spell after half-time but after Georgie got our second we were absolutely outstanding.

“We played with freedom. Liam’s goal for the third put us firmly in control – we could have added another one or two more.

“We’re delighted to get through and we’re delighted for the supporters who made themselves heard – they generated an unbelievable atmosphere.

“We want to generate more nights like that for the supporters because they deserve it. They have been right behind this team and many teams over recent years.

“In my time at the club they have backed us. For me the most important thing as manager was that our supporters came to the game and some of our play had them on the edges of their seats.

“That’s what we want – we want the supporters with us, behind the team and to get them excited about watching their team playing football.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are without Ali Coote (suspended) and Promise Omochere (quad) but Stephen Mallon (hip) is available.

Preview: Stjarnan v Bohemians

EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
First Qualifying Round First Leg
Stjarnan v Bohemians
Thursday July 8th 2021
Stjörnuvöllur, 8.45pm (Irish time)
Live stream on Spiideo.com 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.

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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.”

TEAM NEWS

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

PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC

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.

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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.”

TEAM NEWS

Stephen Mallon (hip) remains a doubt.

PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS

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.

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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.”

TEAM NEWS

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.

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