“IT’S NO LONGER A QUESTION OF JUST A GOOD START”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Monday 4 May, 5.10pm

Bohemian manager Keith Long is asking his players to “express themselves” as his team faces a major test against Cork City on Monday.

This contest for a place in the league’s top three comes after Bohemians came from a goal down to win in Derry.

“We’ve asked the players to express themselves on the pitch. They’ve shown in their performances that they have a belief in what they are doing,” said Long.

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“Winning breeds confidence and we’ve done well so far. But we won’t take any team for granted and we won’t be complacent.

“We bounced back well from the home defeat to St Pat’s. If we can finish off the first series of games with a win against Cork, that would be fantastic.”

Starting in Derry with two strikers for the first time, Bohemians had to adapt when going behind. “It was a hard-fought win and that’s what you have to do at the Brandywell. Dean Delany made a wonderful save at the end to secure the win.”

The goals came from excellent team-work as well as individual skill, Lopes laying off to Dillon and Kavanagh crossing for Griffin to score.

Bohemians have tried different combinations up-front in training and Long has several more options. “Griff[in] can play out wide too. Different games, different horses for courses, we’ll change things up as we see fit.”

Long has a full squad to choose from, with Robbie Creevy fully fit and Dan Byrne back in competitive training for over a week after his long lay-off.

“We have everybody available and we need everybody pushing to achieve whatever it is we can achieve. At this stage, we don’t know what that is but we cannot and will not get ahead of ourselves” the manager said.

“But it’s no longer a question of just a good start. The league doesn’t lie and twenty points from ten games is a decent return.

“We have surprised many people so far and we’ve probably surprised ourselves to a certain extent. But I believe in the players and in the mentality of this group and I think there’s more in them.”

“THE RESULTS WE’VE HAD ON THE ROAD GIVE US CONFIDENCE”

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Brandywell, Friday 24 April, k-o 7.45pm

Bohemians travel to the north-west for the second time this week aiming to preserve their unbeaten away record this season.

“Derry is a tough place to go and a tough place to get anything from. But I, along with the backroom team and the players, believe we can go there and put in a good performance which we hope will lead to a positive result,” said manager Keith Long.

“The results we have had on the road so far give us confidence and we’ll go there in good spirit.”

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Long credits the players with building a strong spirit in the camp. “The players have to be admired for how they have taken ownership of their performances to date,” he said.

“We give them a structure to play in, but the players deserve a lot of credit for how they have conducted themselves and how they have performed so far this year.”

However, Long believes his team could and should have got more from Monday’s game against Sligo Rovers.

“We created the outstanding chances in the game, so it does feel like two points dropped.

“Sligo are a good team despite their indifferent start to the season, so we’re not too disappointed to come away with a point. However, I did feel we had enough clear-cut chances in the game to get the three points.”

The Bohemian manager gave first league-starts of the campaign to midfielders Dave Mulcahy and James O’Brien and was pleased with how that worked out.

“Obviously, Dave is an experienced player and that experience was important to us on the night and will be as we go forward. James offers the team something different as an attack-minded midfielder with an eye for goal.

“He slipped a great pass to Dean Kelly that could have given us the winning goal late in the game. We have a squad that we trust to put in the performances when we ask them.”

Long does admit to some disappointment at the performance in last weekend’s home game against St Patrick’s Athletic.

“Our job is to entertain and I felt that in front of such a big crowd we possibly missed an opportunity. People may have come out for the first time this season, or for the first time in a while, and it was a chance to get them back on board.

“We didn’t play to our potential. The performance wasn’t as good as I hoped for, or as good as I know we can play. I came away from that game thinking we didn’t do ourselves justice and we didn’t give the supporters what they deserve.”

Long insists the team will get better as the season goes on. “I keep reinforcing to the players that they can improve and the good thing is they’re not shying away from that. They know they can get better,” he said.

Robbie Creevy (ankle) missed the Sligo game and will face a late fitness test for Friday. After a long lay-off with a cruciate injury, Dan Byrne returned this week to full training – “a great positive for the club”, according to manager Long.

“WE LACKED GUILE”

SLIGO ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
Monday April 20th, The Showgrounds, 7.45pm 

Bohemian manager Keith Long has challenged his side to show more guile up front when they travel to face Sligo Rovers tonight.

The Gypsies slipped to only their second defeat of the season on Friday when St Patrick’s Athletic came away from Dalymount Park with a 1-0 victory.

Bohs came close to claiming a share of the spoils, but Long wants to see his side create more attacking opportunities from open play.

“I thought Friday was a missed opportunity,” he said. “We had a big crowd behind us and we’re in the entertainment business but we didn’t take advantage of that.

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“We didn’t create enough chances throughout the game. We were okay with some set-pieces but we lacked guile in open play despite having lots of the ball. That’s something I want us to improve on tonight.”

Long says his side have “lots of little niggles” from Friday’s game, but the only main concern is Robbie Creevy (ankle) and long-term absentee Dan Byrne, who is making steady progress in rehabilitation from his cruciate injury.

“WE’VE A GROUNDED GROUP, THEY’RE A MODEST BUNCH”

BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 17 April, 7.45pm

B[/dropcapohemians are staying grounded as they face 2013 champions St Patrick’s Athletic from five points above them in the league table.

“It's important to stay on an even keel. We can’t get too high when we win and we can’t get too low when we lose,” said manager Keith Long.

“We have a grounded group, they’re a modest bunch and they know they can’t approach any game down gears. We know we always have to put in 100 per cent to get anything out of any game.

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“The next four games are huge. First Pat’s, and then away to Sligo and Derry in the same week, and Cork the following week. That’s the challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it.”

Long is keenly aware of the strengths St Patrick’s have in their squad. He saw them two weeks ago come from two goals and then a man down against Longford Town to earn a 2-2 draw.

“They’re as good a passing side as there is in this league. We know it will be a very difficult game on Friday. We’ve got to be disciplined. We can’t be easy to play through because they have quality players with clever movement that can punish any lapse in concentration.”

But if he expects improved results for St Patrick’s Athletic, Long is also aiming to get more from his players. “We can’t argue with results so far but there’s still room for us to be tidier with the ball and more creative in the final third.”

Dave Mulcahy’s return adds to the competition for places. He came on as a sub in the recent EA Sports Cup match against Longford Town and had a “slight reaction”. He was left out of the squad for the league game against the same opposition four days later but is now available for his first league start of the season.

Robbie Creevy has a knock and will face a late fitness test. Otherwise, Long has a full squad to choose from, with only long-term injury Dan Byrne (cruciate) missing. Byrne will return to contact training next week following a six-month lay-off, further strengthening Long’s hand in maintaining Bohemians’ defensive record.

“It’s a lonely place when you’re training on your own and not fully participating in training but Dan has worked extremely hard and done really well to get to this point. It’s a credit to him.”

“LONGFORD WILL BE A DIFFERENT ANIMAL”

BOHEMIANS v LONGFORD TOWN
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 10 April, 7.45pm

Bohemians welcome Longford Town back to Dalymount for a second time in four days. But manager Keith Long says this will be a “different game altogether” from Tuesday’s.

“Longford will be a different animal on Friday night. I saw them play last weekend against St Patrick’s , and they could have won the game. They have a very experienced group of players and are coming to Dalymount in good form, unbeaten in four league games. So, it will be a difficult game for us.”

In the EA Sports Cup Long was able to make nine changes to the side that beat Drogheda 1-0. Bohemians ran out 3-1 winners over a Longford side that was also much- changed from its last league appearance.

Coming from a goal behind on Tuesday, and playing with ten men for 70 minutes last Friday, Bohemians have shown the belief that is in the squad, but also the competition for places in the league starting XI.

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“Against Drogheda, we showed great resilience and defensive organisation after going a man down within 20 minutes. To get the goal at the death and to come away with three points was very pleasing ,” said Long.

“We have a group of players that are demanding of each other both in training and in games and there is competition for places throughout the squad, and that’s what we want.”

Substitutes Keelan Dillon and Marc Griffin played vital roles in securing the three points in Drogheda, combining for the striker’s 88th-minute goal.

Dave Mulcahy may feature against Longford Town on Friday, as he comes back to full fitness. Stephen Best came off after a knock on Tuesday and is doubtful. With Derek Prendergast suspended, Long will have to reshuffle his back line.

The manager acknowledges his defenders’ and goalkeeper Dean Delany’s contributions to five clean sheets in six league games, and seven clean sheets in all nine competitive games this season. The team’s defensive record is a collective effort, he insists.

“Dean gets the credit, and rightly so. He saved a penalty up in Drogheda and has pulled off important saves in games,” said Long.

“But it’s not just Dean, defending starts from the front and the work-rate and effort of the players throughout the team has been very good.”

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