PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK

Bohemians are looking to bounce back with victory against Dundalk at Dalymount Park tonight.

Keith Long’s side were left kicking themselves on Sunday as they squandered a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 away to Sligo Rovers.

It was a set-back after three wins in a row prior to that, and after a sense that the summer recruits were really beginning to click.

Tonight will be another difficult challenge in what is, remarkably, Long’s side’s first game in Dalymount Park in 42 days.

Long said: “Dundalk are a competitive team who are in good form and have quality players throughout their squad.

“It will be a very difficult game and we will need to perform at our highest level if we are to get the points we require after what was a good return from games away from home until Sunday’s result in Sligo.

“We should have won that game – we had complete control until they scored and after that we imploded. There are no excuses – the final 25 minutes were not good enough. Especially disappointing was the fact that we brought huge numbers to Sligo and we let our fans down.

“We should have won but now we have given ourselves a mountain to climb again in terms of securing European football through the league.

“There will be lots of twists and turns before the end of season but Sunday was a real opportunity squandered to close the gap on the teams above us.”

Bohs’ last game on their home patch was the 3-2 defeat to Derry City on July 1. There have been nine additions to the squad since then, all of whom will be aiming to impress in front of the Jodi Stand faithful this evening should they be given an opportunity to do so.

 

Jonathan Afolabi (Celtic), who made his debut off the bench on Sunday, was the ninth summer arrival following the additions of Ryan Burke (Mansfield Town), James Clarke (Drogheda United), Laurenz Dehl (Union Berlin, loan), Josh Kerr (Airdrieonians), Declan McDaid (Dundee), Jon McCracken (Norwich City, loan) John O’Sullivan (Accrington Stanley) and Ethon Varian (Stoke City).

Long said: “Some of the new signings are very much a work in progress and it will take time to find their full match fitness and adapt to the league.

“With 19 players coming and going in this transfer window there has been a huge turnover in personnel.

“Those players coming into the club are on longer term deals and we hope that will provide more stability going forward.

“The most successful or best performing teams have much more stable squads than the least competitive ones.

“It is our aim to have minimal player movement at the end of every season to a point where we might only be adding three to four additions every winter to improve the squad.

“I believe we have gone a long way towards this and we can move forward with more stability and confidence with less of a player drain that we have experienced over the last number of seasons.

“But of more immediate concern is Dundalk. It has been a long time since we have played in Dalymount, for many players it will be their first taste of playing in front of the Jodi, and we want to put in a display our fans can be proud of.”

TEAM NEWS

James Talbot (shoulder) and Jordan Flores (hamstring) remain out, while Jamie Mullins and James McManus are doubts.

Preview: Finn Harps v Bohemians

Bohemians begin their FAI Cup campaign away to Finn Harps with everyone at the club hoping they can go one better than they did last season.

Bohs went agonisingly close to lifting the trophy in the Aviva Stadium – Rory Feely inches from winning it in extra-time before losing the decider on penalties.

There has been much change since – nine of the 15 players who featured for Keith Long’s side that day have moved on since.

In this July transfer window alone, there have been eight new arrivals – three of whom are available for the matchday squad for the first time this evening.

James Clarke (Drogheda United), Laurenz Dehl (Union Berlin, loan) and Jon McCracken (Norwich City, loan) join up the squad alongside previous July additions Ryan Burke (Mansfield Town), Josh Kerr (Airdrieonians), Declan McDaid (Dundee), John O’Sullivan (Accrington Stanley) and Ethon Varian (Stoke City).

So the large travelling Bohs support in Ballybofey will have a lot of new faces to familiarise themselves with and to place their faith in to progress in the FAI Cup.

 

One of those new faces is full-back Burke, who joined from Mansfield Town having spent last season on loan with Telford.

Previously with St Patrick’s Athletic before moving to Birmingham City, the 21-year-old is looking to make his mark having made his debut as a late substitute in the 3-1 victory against UCD earlier this month.

Burke said: “I’ve settled in really well. All the boys are really good with me.

“I’ve known some of them beforehand and obviously that makes coming into the group a bit easier. But even the ones who I didn’t know have been great too.

“There is good competition in the squad now and I just want to take my opportunities to show what I do when they come.”

Harps have proved tricky opponents in recent years for Bohemians but Ollie Horgan’s side are struggling at the bottom of the league table this season and Long’s men go into the game confident of progressing.

Burke added: “We know Finn Harps’ qualities and won’t take them lightly and we have done our analysis on them.

“With no game it meant we could work on different things and it went really well. We had a tough week training – it was a really good week’s work.

“I feel we are really prepared for this game now.”

TEAM NEWS

James Talbot (shoulder) remains out but Bohemians are otherwise at full strength with Ali Coote (illness) returning.

New signings James Clarke (Drogheda United), Jon McCracken (Norwich City, loan) and Laurenz Dehl (Union Berlin, loan) come into the squad and are available for selection for the first time.

PREVIEW: UCD v BOHEMIANS

Bohemians manager Keith Long believes his summer signings can change the dynamic of his team and help push them up the table.

Bohs travel to Belfield this evening to take on UCD at the UCD Bowl and for the first time new signings Josh Kerr, Ryan Burke, John O’Sullivan and Declan McDaid come into the reckoning.

Long said: “We have good players at the club but we need to be better.

“Ryan, Josh, John and Declan come into contention for the first time tonight and we are really looking forward to the dynamic the new boys bring to the squad.

“We knew we had to improve in terms of our strength and depth and I feel that they will add to the team.

“We are disappointed with where we are in the table and we have to start winning games to improve our position. It’s as simple as that.

“A little bit of experience coming in will help us, so we hope that it will give us a bit of a bounce. Ultimately we have to try and improve their fitness levels because they have had an off-season.

“We have got to give them time to try and get ready and up to speed to try and impact us because we are crying out for it.”
Long was frustrated with Bohs’ 3-2 defeat to Derry City on Friday, particularly the manner in which the Candystripes scored their second less than two minutes after the Gypsies had levelled the game.

He added: “Every goal we conceded was an error. That has been the story of our season so far. The goals that we are conceding are just far too soft. They are individual errors.

“We got back into the game and Ali Coote gets a cracking goal but we concede in the next phase of play because we didn’t defend the back post.

“That has happened three times this year where we have conceded directly after scoring. Then we give a needless free-kick away in a wide area and again, it’s poor defending.

“Those that have come to watch us week on week have seen that far too often this year and we need to improve.”

TEAM NEWS

Four new signings – Ryan Burke, Josh Kerr, John O’Sullivan and Declan McDaid – come into contention for the first time.

Liam Burt, who was named on the bench last Friday but became ill, is available once more.

James Talbot (shoulder) and Grant Horton (knee) remain out.

PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY

Bohemians manager Keith Long has seen enough from his team since the start of the second half of the season to believe they can climb up the table.

His side have won a Dublin derby 1-0 and lost a Dublin derby 1-0 since the short mid-season break.

First, they beat Shelbourne at Dalymount Park a fortnight ago but lost to Shamrock Rovers by the same scoreline at Tallaght Stadium last week.

Long said: “Last week we were disappointed not to come away with something from Tallaght.

“Our performance deserved more but a slow start to the second half cost us and we left frustrated having conceded a goal from a set play in what was an otherwise positive team display.

“Derby games are normally won by the odd goal and games are very often defined by small margins. Teams will punish those moments and we must learn from Friday in order to grind out results in tight games.”

Bohemians come into tomorrow’s game against Derry City in a positive mindset, however.

Long said: “The team are very much together, focused on improving and are fighting for one another.

“You have seen evidence of that in our displays since our return from the short break and if we can continue that level of performance, we can climb the table.

“Derry come into tonight after a good win away in UCD last week. They are a quality team with some great players presenting us with so many challenges throughout their team.

“These are challenges that we are looking forward to though and we hope we can continue to improve with a good team display.”

Long is counting on another vocal support, and tribute to the backing his team have had in recent games.

He said: “The support in Dalymount last time out versus Shelbourne was exceptional.

“Down to 10 men for most of the second half, the players really benefited from the support in the Jodi – that helped us win the game.

“It was the same in Tallaght where the fans got right behind the lads and we will need that support again against Derry City.”

That support will be all the more important as Long will have to do without his three new arrivals – Ryan Burke, Josh Kerr and John O’Sullivan – despite the transfer window opening tomorrow.

Long added: “Unfortunately, we are unable to call upon any of our recent signings due to an association rule that only allows players to be registered 24 hours after the transfer window opens.

“It is unfortunate that July 1st lands on a Friday and it is deeply frustrating not to have the lads available for selection despite having all the necessary paperwork ready in advance of the window.”

TEAM NEWS

Ciarán Kelly (suspension) and Tyreke Wilson (bug) return.

James Talbot (shoulder) and Grant Horton (knee) remain out.

New signings Ryan Burke, Josh Kerr and John O’Sullivan are not yet eligible to play.

PREVIEW: SHAMROCK ROVERS v BOHEMIANS

Conor Levingston says Bohemians are relishing the opportunity to have a crack at rivals Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght tomorrow.

Bohs started the second half of the season with three points in a Dublin derby against Shelbourne last week as Dawson Devoy’s long-range effort was enough to secure victory for Keith Long’s side, who played the last 40 minutes with just ten men.

But the temperature will ratchet up a notch when Bohs travel to take on league leaders in Dublin 24.

Levingston said: “These are massive games. We all know that. They’re huge and mean so much to everyone involved.

“For us though it’s about working on our play and what we are going to do.

“We have a big job ahead but one we are looking forward to.

“It is a massive opportunity for us to go and put in a good performance in front of a packed house in Tallaght. We are looking forward to giving it a good crack.”
Bohs were two weeks without football prior to last Friday’s win over Shels.

Levingston admits the squad took that time to regroup and to start afresh.

He said: “We all went away for a few days and had a chance to rest and recover.

“It had been a tough start to the season and it was beneficial to have some time off.

“We came back and worked really hard then when we came back in.”

That hard work paid off with a hard-fought win over Damien Duff’s Shels, despite going a man down on 55 minutes when Ciarán Kelly saw red.

Levingston said: “Conceding late goals was something that has been hanging over us but the lads dug deep.

“Going down to 10 men is never easy but we were able to grind it out which is what we had to do.

“When you dig in and work hard, you can get your bit of luck.

“They hit the bar at the end and maybe that’s the little bit of luck we hadn’t been getting in previous games.”

Manager Long agreed. He said: “It was a hard-fought win, and in a Dublin derby, and it was a great way to come back to play in that derby too.

“It was important to get the second half of the season off to a winning start at home.

“Shelbourne had a great chance when Shane Farrell flashed in a great cross from the right-hand side and Gavin Hodgins was probably a bit unlucky.

“But we deserved that bit of luck towards the end that we haven’t gotten in previous games.”

Long was also delighted with the performance of goalkeeper Tadhg Ryan who kept a clean sheet on his debut in the absence of James Talbot, who suffered a shoulder injury in training while on international duty with Ireland.

Long said: “He has been very patient but he has obviously been behind an exceptional keeper, so he’s had to wait patiently in the wings and has been very professional since he came to the club.

“He has trained extremely hard and is a very clever, down to earth fella.

“Nothing really fazes Tadhg, so we weren’t really concerned for him to come into a game of that nature with a bit of pressure on us.

“He did very well to keep a clean sheet and it’s a reward for his patience and perseverance but also his professionalism because the boys will tell you he trains at a really high standard and I’m glad for him.”

Long will be hoping for a similar solid performance at the back to provide a platform for his attacking players to flourish.

He added: “If we click, that front four are as good as any in the league. But we have to click a little bit more often than we have been doing and that has been the missing piece.

“We have to be consistent. It’s very difficult when you’re going to Tallaght, to the league leaders. But we are looking forward to it now.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians are without Ciarán Kelly following his red card against Shelbourne but Tyreke Wilson returns from suspension.

James Talbot (shoulder) and Grant Horton (knee) remain out.

Please note that tonight’s game is being shown on the big screen in the Members’ Bar at Dalymount Park for those who cannot make the trip to Tallaght.

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