“IT’S ALL UP FOR GRABS”

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
FAI Ford Cup quarter-final, Richmond Park, 12 September, 7.45pm

Bohemians face their third away tie in the FAI Ford Cup knowing that, this time, they will have strong support from their fans.

Derbies against St Patrick’s Athletic have often been tight and intense and the fans contribute to that, according to Bohemian manager Owen Heary.

“Every time we play in Inchicore our support is great. When the supporters are together it creates a great atmosphere for the lads,” he said.

“It’s one of the more enjoyable places to play because the crowd is on top of you.

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“It will be a difficult game. They are in form themselves, not conceding goals. It’s a big ask for the lads but it’s one that they are all geared towards. When you come to the quarter-final stages, it’s all up for grabs.”

In three matches this season it has been honours even: Bohemians won at Dalymount in the EA Sports Cup, St Pat’s won at Inchicore in the league and the sides drew at Dalymount in their league encounter two months ago.

“For the club, this is massive,” said Heary. “If we get through to the semi-final, it’s extra finance and we can start thinking about getting to Europe, and that would be really massive, not only for the fans.”

Bohemians come to Friday’s game from a 3-2 defeat in Sligo on Monday. But Heary takes comfort from his side’s performance and believes they deserved something from the game.

“We were unfortunate not to get a result. A poor refereeing decision probably cost us getting something from the game,” he said. “We played extremely well, created a lot of chances and we could have scored more.”

Dave Mulcahy and Jason Byrne were rested on Monday and Eoin Wearen served an automatic suspension for his red card the previous Friday.

All three are available for the cup tie and they, along with Dinny Corcoran, Kevin Devaney and Karl Moore, who were on the bench for the first 70 minutes against Sligo, may be starters. Only long-term injuries, Anto Murphy (ankle) and Dan Byrne (cruciate), are ruled out.

The Sligo game was an opportunity for Heary to give game-time to other players whom he expects to call on again before the end of the season. Adam Evans (20) and Jake Hyland (19) made their first starts in the league and Hyland scored, bringing his tally to four goals in four games for the senior team. “Jake’s a good player and he’ll probably get more game-time this season,” said Heary.

Paddy Kavanagh returned to the starting line-up after a spell on the bench and was “excellent”.

Bohemians bring strong cup form and away form to Friday’s derby. They had three wins in the EA Sports Cup before going out, and they have beaten Premier Division opposition twice to get to the FAI Cup quarter-finals.

Bohemians have maintained a positive goal difference in away league matches, a record shared only with the top four in the table. They have had four of their seven league victories on the road.

Improved form in recent weeks is stirring interest in some Bohemian players. “That’s a killer, because we can’t compete with the top teams and we don’t want to be starting fresh again,” said Heary.

“If we do get to a cup final we might have that bit extra to help us keep more players.”

Things are looking up

SLIGO ROVERS v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, The Showgrounds, Monday 8 September, 7.45pm

Just five points separate fifth-placed Sligo Rovers and ninth-placed Bohemians as the sides go head to head at the Showgrounds on Monday evening.

Bohs claimed their third home league win in a row with a 2-1 victory against Bray Wanderers on Friday night and with another game in hand, boss Owen Heary is hoping that another positive result can prove a springboard to climb into the top half of the table.

“Friday’s result keeps us safe,” said Heary. “We can now start looking at the teams ahead of us and not be worrying about the teams behind us.

“We’ve two games in hand on most teams. We want to win those and we want to go and try and finish ahead of the likes of Sligo.”

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With one eye on Friday’s Ford FAI Cup quarter-final against St Patrick’s Athletic, Heary acknowledges the need to make changes but is adamant he will send out a side capable of winning all three points.

“It’s not an ideal time to have a game,” he said. “We’ve a massive cup game on Friday away to the league champions.

“But the team we put out in Sligo can’t allow that to distract them. The starting XI we put out will be good enough to go there and try to win.

“The players have confidence now and we’ve shown we are well capable of beating the top teams. We want that to continue.

“We don’t sit back – we want to get on the front foot, be positive and take games to the opposition as we have done.”

One enforced change will see Eoin Wearen watch the game from the stands as he serves a ban for a red card picked up against Bray on Friday.

“It was a silly red card,” added Heary. “It was a moment of madness but there is no point in us going on about it.

“He’s gutted with himself so as a team, we will rally behind him.

“Win, lose or draw, we do it as a team, so we will all get behind him and pick him back up.”

Heary is also without young defender Stephen Best (ankle) as well as long-term absentees Dano Byrne (cruciate) and Anto Murphy (ankle).

“THIS CAN BE A SPRINGBOARD FOR A REALLY BIG WEEK”

BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 5 September, 7.45pm

Bohemians welcome Bray Wanderers to Dalymount, determined to widen the six-point gap between them in the league table.

A win over Bray would effectively rule out relegation for Bohemians, according to manager Owen Heary. It could also be a springboard for “a really big week for the club”, with a league match away to Sligo and a cup quarter-final against St Patrick’s Athletic.

“We want to finish as high as we can. If we end up higher than, say, Drogheda and Limerick, it’s a good season for us. If we get to a cup final, it’s a great season,” said Heary.

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The Seagulls come to Friday’s game with just one win in the league in 14 matches. But that victory came last week against UCD and Heary knows Bray will give them a fight.

“They’ll be looking at this game and saying, if they win, they’re only a couple of points off us, though we have games in hand.

“We have to keep our heads on. Bray will be missing a few players but we mustn’t start to think, ‘This will be easy’.”

Games against Bray have marked important turning points for Bohemians this season and last. Heary started his tenure as Bohemian manager with a 3-1 victory in Bray in July 2013.

A 5-0 win at the Carlisle Grounds in June was Bohs’ best result of this season and started a run of seven leagues matches unbeaten in nine.

Dinny Corcoran scored a hat-trick in that match and last week he kept up his impressive strike record with a “another cracking goal” against league leaders Dundalk.

“Facing Dundalk with some key players missing, the lads put in a tremendous performance. We just got a bit tired in the last 15 minutes,” said Heary.

“We have shown we’re capable of giving anyone a good game on the day. If we lose and we have given it everything, like last week, we’ll hold up our hands say, ‘Fair enough’.

“The pleasing thing for me is that the players came off disappointed, and that shows you how far we have come. They’re coming off saying they should have got something from the game.”

Dave Mulcahy returns for Friday but Steven Beattie (suspension) must sit out one more match. Anto Murphy (ankle) and Dan Byrne (cruciate) remain on the long-term injury list.

After three matches in eight days, Bohemians face into seven games over a month but Heary is proud of how his squad have faced the rigours of league and cup campaigns. “It’s a tough schedule but the lads have stood up well to it.”

Former Bray icon Jason Byrne has played consecutive games and “he’s enjoying it”, according to his long-time associate, Heary. “He’s playing with a smile on his face and I’m sure he’ll start hitting the net again.”

With the glut of matches Heary expects to use his full squad. But the younger players who are also in the senior squad now have a new under-19 campaign starting this week.

Former Drogheda United manager Robbie Horgan took over this week from Bobby Browne as under-19 manager. “I want to thank Bobby for everything he has done for the club and to wish Robbie and the under-19s the very best of luck for this season,” said Heary.

Pic by Eddie Lennon – eddielennonsportingimages.com

“WE’LL TAKE THE GAME TO THEM”

DUNDALK v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Oriel Park, Friday 29 August, 7.45pm

Having dismissed Cork City from the FAI Cup Bohemians can now do the same club a favour by holding league leaders Dundalk in check on Friday.

Bohemians follow one tough assignment with another when they face Dundalk, unbeaten at home in the league this season. But they travel with the memory of a 1-1 draw in Dundalk in March.

Manager Owen Heary is relishing the challenge, only regretting that he does not have a full squad to choose from.

“I’d love to play them with a full-strength team but I still feel confident enough to go up and get a result. We want to go and win the game.

“There’s nothing expected of us going to Dundalk but we’re definitely going to take the game to them.”

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Defenders Dan Byrne (cruciate) and Anto Murphy (ankle) are likely to miss the rest of the season. Steven Beattie is suspended and captain Dave Mulcahy has personal commitments that keep him out.

So, four players who have played key roles in keeping Bohemians solid in defence and in midfield are missing. Heary notes that it is the platform that these and other players have built that has made it possible for forward players to shine in recent weeks.

“I’m delighted for Dinny [Corcoran] that he got the goals against Cork because he has had shots off the crossbar and he has kept going and got his just rewards over the weekend.

“But it’s not just about the forward players, it’s also about the defensive line and the keeper who keep us in the game. The whole lot, they work as a unit. You can see our forwards and our wingers chasing back and tackling, our full-backs getting forward, our central midfield being strong and aggressive.”

Heary is full of his admiration for his players and how they are taking on each battle in full solidarity with each other, filling in wherever they are needed.

“Against Cork last Friday we had Keith Buckley at right full and Steven Beattie at left full, and they were both excellent.

“If you look at the team as a whole, they have got better and they have worked for each other, and all we can ask is that they do this, week in and week out.

“Dan Byrne came to Monday’s game after working a night shift, Derek Pender had a child sick, Dean Delany is working early as a postman. They all still put in a shift for us.

“They have created this themselves, that they work so hard for each other. I admire them for how they go out and put a performance in, week after week, with so much else happening in their lives.”

With his forces depleted Heary is looking for yet another strong performance on Friday and for others in the squad to step up. Ryan McEvoy, who has featured little this season and has recently had a back injury, may be called on.

“I know what he’s capable of doing. When he came on in a couple of games he’s shown he is back to where he was. He is one with a point to prove and he may get to do that on Friday.”

“We live to fight another day”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
FAI Ford Cup third round replay, Dalymount Park, Monday 25 August, 7.45pm

Bohemians and Cork City renew acquaintances on Monday night in an FAI Ford Cup third round replay at Dalymount Park following Friday’s end-to-end 2-2 draw at Turner’s Cross.

Owen Heary’s side twice took the lead through Dinny Corcoran only to be pegged back on both occasions, with Dan Murray’s 88-minute equaliser ensuring the sides would meet again.

“We were disappointed not to hang on having gone 2-1 up with six minutes to go but I was very pleased with the performance,” said Heary.

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“We were down bodies but the lads who came in did very well. Steven Beattie came in at left-back and Keith Buckley at right-back. Both of them put in really good shifts.

“We created a lot of chances and went close to extending our lead several times but Dinny took both of his goals very well.

“We should have won the game but we live to fight another day.”

With Dalymount Park passing an FAI pitch inspection this morning, Heary is expecting another cup classic and hopes his team can build upon recent improvements in home form.

“It was a great game on Friday, a typical cup tie with really good passing football from both teams,” he said.

“Both sides know each other well now, so hopefully we’ll see more of the same. There are tired legs but it’s the same for both teams.

“We’ve done well in our home games recently, so it’s up to the lads to turn good performances into victories.”

Bohemians welcome Roberto Lopes (suspension) and Derek Pender (work commitments) back into the squad, but Ryan McEvoy is a doubt with a back strain. Anto Murphy (ankle) remains out. Steven Beattie is suspended.

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