“Even without them being in the ground, our fans continue to motivate this team.”

Preview: Cork City v Bohemians
Sunday August 2 2020, Turner’s Cross, 5pm
Live on WatchLOI

Bohemians may be playing in front of virtually empty stadiums for the foreseeable future but the backing they have received from supporters is driving them on now more than ever.

149 days have passed since the Gypsies last took to the field in the SSE Airtricity League – a 2-0 victory over Shelbourne at Dalymount Park back in March with second-half goals from Andre Wright and Danny Mandroiu.

The intervening period has presented great challenges right across the globe but in a time of extraordinary adversity, Bohemians will mark our 130th year with renewed resolve.

The strength of the bond between players and supporters, which has blossomed under Keith Long since he took charge ahead of the 2015 season, was there for all to see as members, season ticket holders, sponsors and the wider Bohemian community dug deep over the course of the lockdown since March.

Those endeavours ensured that staff and players wages were paid in full and averted the potentially catastrophic financial impact of Covid-19 that could have seen the great strides made in recent seasons unravel.

Had the challenges posed by the pandemic hit in any number of seasons gone by, it is doubtful that the club would have been in a position to honour contracts. Now Long and his team are keen to repay the backing they have received from supporters between now and the end of the truncated 2020 season.

Long said: “Even without them being in the ground, our fans continue to motivate this team. Without their backing over the past four months or so, we might not be here.

“They’ve been right behind us when we’ve been on the pitch for the years I’ve been here and they’ve been right behind us during this difficult period too.

“That’s in the back of everyone’s mind – the players don’t need any reminding that without the support of the members, season ticket holders, sponsors and everyone else at the club, things could have been so much different.

“It has been a challenging time for everyone so for us to receive the level of backing we have in that context hasn’t gone unnoticed by anyone.

“We will collectively be doing our utmost between now and the end of the season to repay that faith.”

Playing in empty stadiums will get some getting used to.

From the roar of the Jodi Stand when the team enters the pitch at Dalymount Park to the boisterous vocal away support received the length and breadth of the country, this Bohs team is used to strong backing wherever they play.

Long said: “There’s certainly an element of unknown going into this and it is up to us to adapt quickly.

“It’s obviously going to be very different to what we are used to. There is normally a large home support at Turner’s Cross and we normally bring a good travelling support down too.

“But we are determined that wherever our fans are watching the stream of the game that we can go out and give them a good performance and result. We are really looking forward to it.”

Bohs have had four friendly games in recent weeks to get the team back up to speed with wins at home to Derry City and Longford Town, and defeats away to Dundalk and Linfield.

Long added: “We’ve played a good level of opposition in warm-up games but this is the real deal and we have to be ready.

“This is about getting off to a positive start. But it won’t be easy. We’ve never had it easy down in Turner’s Cross.

“There are only 12 games remaining after this one so we know we are going to have to be up to speed from the very start.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians will be without Cristian Magerusan (knee), Glen McAuley (concussion) and Paddy Kirk (ankle).[/toggle]

“Our fans’ vocal support, passion and patience will be vital for us”

BOHEMIAN FC v SHELBOURNE FC
SSE Airtricity League
Friday March 6, Dalymount Park, 8pm

Keith Long says Bohemians need to show courage and determination in tonight’s Dublin derby against Shelbourne.

Tonight’s opposition have started well following their promotion from the First Division under the guidance of Ian Morris, once a protege of Long.

In their three games thus far, they have won two and lost one ahead of tonight’s first league meeting between Bohs and Shels in seven years, claiming all three points away to Cork City and most recently at home to St Pat’s.

Shels came close to pulling off a shock result against Long’s men in the FAI Cup last season, leading 2-0 with nine minutes remaining before a Danny Mandroiu masterclass inspired Bohs to a memorable 3-2 victory.

Revenge will be on their mind when the sides kick off at 8pm this evening.

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Long said: “Our opposition will not make it easy for us. We should embrace this because it makes us better. We need to fight every day and in every game and for every second.

“If we have the right mindset of courage and a willingness to learn, we can achieve great things.

“Our fans’ vocal support, passion and patience will be vital for us and I look forward to them helping us on this journey as they have done.”

Bohs come into the game with two wins and two defeats from their opening four games.

Last time out at Dalymount 10 days ago, they ran out 2-0 winners against Sligo Rovers.

Long said: “We came out of the traps and scored an early goal. This came about as a result of our willingness to run forward and force errors from our opponents.

“We played with good tempo in the opening period but we could not get a second goal.

“In the second half, again we had chances primarily through Glen McCauley and on another day he could have had a couple of goals.

“Instead, we had to wait until the final minute of the 90 to secure the points through Kris Twardek’s first goal for the club.”

But the positivity from that result came unstuck with a disappointing result and performance at the Brandywell four days later where Derry City claimed a 2-0 victory.

Long added: “Our last game was a disappointing one. We did not play to our potential and while there was very little between the teams, we didn’t do enough to stress the opposition as much as we would have liked and didn’t work their goalkeeper enough throughout the game.

“We lacked the understanding and quality needed to break a team like Derry down.

“We did have some chances, JJ Lunney had an effort narrowly wide in the first half and we felt Keith Ward’s effort – at a time in the game when we were starting to exert pressure on the opposition – was over the line.

“The referee, Derek Tomney, who was in a great position thought otherwise and we have to respect his decision.

“Our vantage point at the side wasn’t ideal but a large portion of the defender’s leg was over the line when he cleared the ball, suggesting that the ball did in fact cross the line.

“If we had got ahead, it’s a different game for us but we lacked cohesion and the understanding to break our opponents down afterwards.

“We are developing a way to play but along the way, there will be setbacks like that.

“You will see misplaced passes, you will see mistakes but these are all part of the process and are essential in getting us to where we want to be, which takes courage and it takes hard work.”

TEAM NEWS

Dinny Corcoran (groin) and James Talbot (ankle) are out, while James Finnerty (calf) remains doubtful.

Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) is out for the season.

“The lads walk out and see what it means to the people who travel around the country behind us”

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday February 28 2020, Ryan McBride Stadium, 7.45pm

Bohemians are looking to build on a positive week when they travel to face Derry City at the Brandywell tonight.

The Gypsies’ season opener defeat in injury-time against Shamrock Rovers has been put behind them with successive 2-0 victories against Waterford and Sligo Rovers respectively.

Manager Keith Long said: “We were very good down in the RSC against Waterford in horrendous conditions.

“Against Sligo on Monday, we started very well and got ahead early on through Danny Mandroiu. We could have made life a bit easier for ourselves when we were converted chances we had when we were on top.

“Sligo made us sweat as a result then in the last 15 minutes or so and had their own opportunities before we got the second through Kris Twardek late on.

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“But we’ve two 2-0 wins and two clean sheets for Stephen McGuinness in his first two games for the club so I’m pleased.”

McGuinness is one of several new players tasting first-team football at Bohs for the first time.

His chance to impress came sooner than expected after being drafted into the team following a foot injury suffered by regular first-choice keeper James Talbot against Shamrock Rovers a fortnight ago.

Having a strong pool of players available and ready to slot in when required will be key for Bohs’ attempts to consolidate last year’s third-place finish. Various injury crises over the course of last season saw the Gypsies falter on occasion but there is a feeling that there is greater strength in depth this time around.

Long said: “It’s still very early in the season, we’re only three games in. But we’re going to again have a disproportionate amount of games in the first half of the season so we need to use our squad and be able to call on players who are capable of stepping in.

“We’ve seen Kris Twardek come in and do very well for us so far in the games he’s played and opened his account for us on Monday. Stephen McGuinness has come in and kept two clean sheets.

“Glen McAuley gives us different options up front too. He’s a different kind of player to Dinny Corcoran or Andre Wright. He’s worked very hard over the last two games and his efforts probably deserved a goal.

“We’ve got good competition for places in various positions. Anto Breslin played the first two games and did very well at left-back but Paddy Kirk came in on Monday night and was excellent, so you’ve two good players going head to head for the one position and pushing each other.”

The Gypsies were unbeaten in four league games against Declan Devine’s Candystripes last season, winning one and drawing three, but there wasn’t a whole lot between the teams and just three points separated Bohs in third and Derry in fourth in the final league standings.

Long is expecting another close encounter tonight against a side who lost their opening game of the season 1-0 to champions Dundalk before needing a late equaliser to secure a point against rivals Finn Harps last week.

Long said: “The Brandywell is a great stadium to play in so we are looking forward to it. There has been very little between the sides last year.

“They’ve lost some players but they’ve brought in new faces too, some we’re familiar with, some less so.

“They have the advantage going into this game of having not played on Monday, so they’ll have been able to prepare well and will be fresh whereas we still have people recovering.

“They acquitted themselves well against Dundalk, despite losing. We know it will always be difficult against them and they’ll be looking for three points.”

Long hopes Bohs’ bid to get a result at the Ryan McBride Stadium will once again be assisted by a vocal travelling support encouraging them from the off. An away support of 450 did just that last week against Waterford.

He added: “Every time we go to the Brandywell, we tend to bring a good crowd with us. It’s really important to have that backing behind us.

“It was huge for us last season and most memorably in the cup the season before.

“It might be a cliche but it’s true that a big travelling support after a long journey really gives the lads a big lift.

“They walk out on to the pitch and they get to see what it means to the people who travel around the country and get behind us.

“We brought a massive support down to Waterford last week in horrendous conditions and that was significant to our players.”

TEAM NEWS

Dinny Corcoran (groin), James Finnerty (calf) and James Talbot (ankle) remain doubtful.

Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) is out for the season.

“We want them to have a reward for their efforts this season”

ENDA McGUILL CUP FINAL
Bohemians U19s v Shamrock Rovers U19s
Saturday November 2 2019
Dalymount Park, 12pm

GENERAL ADMISSION: €5
UNDER-16s GO FREE

Craig Sexton has told his Bohemians U19s to go out and win a trophy he believes their efforts this season deserve.

Sexton’s U19s are looking to lift the Enda McGuill Cup for the second season running having beaten St Pat’s 2-1 in the decider last term.

Their bid to win three league titles in a row came unstuck last month when they lost 3-2 after extra time against eventual finalists Galway United, who lost the league final to Waterford on Monday.

Bohs’ exit from the knockout stages of the league was a particularly harsh lesson.

Having had two men sent off, they finished the game with just eight having used up all their substitutes when a player was forced off through injury.

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It was a cruel exit for a team that had lost just once in 20 games in the Northern Elite Division, which they topped by nine points.

But tomorrow’s Enda McGuill Cup final offers salvation.

Sexton said: “We spoke to the players. We want them to have a reward for their efforts this season.

“We feel they deserve it for all the work they’ve put in over the course of the year and the level of performance they have delivered so consistently.

“They deserve to have something to show for that but they will really have to work for it. It won’t come easily.

“For some of them, this will be their last game for the club at U19s level so we want them to finish up on a high. The perfect way to do that would be to beat Rovers in a Dublin derby at Dalymount to win a trophy.”

Sexton hopes a big home support can help his side over the line tomorrow as his players continue to get used to big occasions at Dalymount Park.

He said: “It’s another big one for the players.

“Some of them have experienced big occasions now with the club through the first team already – the likes of Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy – as well as the Uefa Youth League games this year and last.

“They need to embrace occasions like this and familiarise themselves with them as it’s an important part of their development as players.”

Bohs exited the the Uefa Youth League game by the narrowest of margins nine days ago after losing 1-0 to PAOK in Greece, 2-1 on aggregate.

They were left kicking themselves for not taking their chances in the first leg but Sexton believes the experience is one his players will treasure, adding: “We were disappointed not to progress but we can look back with pride on what was a really positive experience for the players.

“We should have won the first game but the way they played against some of the top young players in Europe will stand to them.”

Please note the the club section of the FAI National Draw will be held in the Members’ Bar after the game.

“There’s no doubt in our minds as to what we have to do over here”

PAOK (1) v BOHEMIANS U19s (1)
UEFA YOUTH LEAGUE
Champions Path 1st Round, 2nd Leg
Wednesday October 23 2019
Toumba Stadium, 6pm Greek time/4pm Irish time

Craig Sexton says his Bohemians U19s are under no illusions as to their objectives against PAOK tomorrow.

Sexton’s Bohs U19s arrived in Thessalonica yesterday knowing they have to score at the Toumba Stadium to have any chance of progressing through to second round of the Uefa Youth League.

Barring a miracle, Ukrainians Dynamo Kyiv, who have an 8-0 first-leg lead over Shkëndija of North Macedonia, await the winners in the next round.

Bohs were by far the better team against PAOK at Dalymount Park three weeks ago and were frustrated not to be travelling to Greece ahead in the tie, instead drawing 1-1, giving PAOK the advantage with the away goal.

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Jack Moylan put Bohs ahead after just six minutes but Antonis Gaitanidis hit back four minutes later.

The Gypsies dominated possession and worked the opposition keeper throughout. But Christos Tallchmanidis was a man possessed in the PAOK goal.

As well as denying a Dawson Devoy spot kick, he pulled off a rake of stunning saves, particularly in the dying embers of the game as Bohs piled on the pressure.

Sexton said: “We played very well, but we hope to improve on our first-leg performance by being a little bit more clinical. With the chances we had in that game, we probably could and should be coming over here with a lead.

“But we’re not, so we there’s no doubt in our minds as to what we have to do over here.

“We can’t sit back. We have to score or we’re out. PAOK have the away goal so we know the objective here is to go out and play and try to score.”

Sexton’s travelling party has been bolstered by the inclusion for this leg of Andy Lyons, who has enjoyed a real breakthrough season in the first team, deputising with a maturity beyond his years when called upon to fill in for skipper Derek Pender at right-back.

He, along with skipper Alex Byrne, Seán Bohan, Ross Tierney, Thomas Considine and Mitchell Byrne, is one of six players to have been involved in last season’s Uefa Youth League ties against FC Midtjylland of Denmark, which Bohs lost 4-2 on aggregate.

It is an altogether new experience for the group of which Evan Ferguson, who turned 15 last week, is the youngest.

Sexton said: “Travelling abroad, staying in hotels, playing in big stadiums, this is new for a lot of them but they’ve settled in well.

“We got to see the stadium yesterday. It’s great venue. A big, old wraparound stadium, 30,000 all-seater, so it will something most of them will be experiencing for the very first time.

“But the mood in the camp is great. They’re relaxed, fully grasp the challenge that is ahead of them and are looking forward to it.”

While this is an altogether new experience for most of them, many of Sexton’s squad have of late been gaining much experience on other fronts.

Ross Tierney in action in the first leg - Sportsfile

Ross Tierney in action in the first leg - Sportsfile

Lyons, who starred at the U19 European Championships this summer, is by some stretch the most experienced of the group.

But the likes of Ross Tierney, Dawson Devoy and Ferguson have sampled first-team football in the league, while others like Seán Bohan, Alex Byrne and Mitchell Byrne have been involved with first-team matchdays squads as well.

Tierney, a St Kevin’s Boy since he was eight, in particular has caught the eye for the first team in recent months having shone throughout the Bohs-SKB partnerships teams and Bohs U19s previously.

He has taken the step-up his stride and has become something of a fans’ favourite in the process, while Devoy has had encouraging appearances in recent weeks also.

Both men have benefited from a freak run of injuries for Keith Long’s first team but have not looked out of place when called into action.

There has been international recognition too with Bohan, Tierney and Devoy all making their first appearances for Tom Mohan’s Ireland U19s in a friendly against Denmark last week.

Sexton said: “The likes of Ross and Dawson have been the lucky ones this year but they’ve rewarded the trust Keith Long has shown them. They’ve both made a huge impact, particularly Ross. I think Keith has probably found it hard to drop him!

“Ross is Ross. He’s an infectious character on and off the pitch. He’s not a bawler on the pitch, he lets his football do the talking. He leads by the way he plays.

“If there’s a mould of the kind of player we want to bring through, Ross is it.

“You’re hoping experiences like this year and last can stand to these players if and when they make the step-up to the first team.

“Ultimately that’s my job and the job of all the managers and coaches down through the Bohs-SKB U17s, U15s and U13s is to get the best out of players and get them ready to be funnelled into Keith’s first team or beyond.

“Keith drives all of that – throughout the set-ups. We’re lucky we have a first-team manager who will give youth a chance and isn’t afraid to back them.

“That’s yielded great results this season and hopefully we’ll have more given that opportunity next season. That’s what this is all about.”

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