IT’S ALL TO PLAY FOUR

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Richmond Park, Tuesday 30th September, 7.45pm

Starting with Tuesday’s Dublin derby at Richmond Park, Owen Heary is targeting four big results against four teams currently ahead of his side as he bids to secure a top-half finish in his first full season in charge of Bohemians.

“One of the best things about us at the moment is that we have no fear,” he said. “We’re not in any danger of relegation, so the lads are able to get to grips with games.

“It’s all to play for. We’ve four games left against four teams ahead of us (Pat’s, Sligo, Cork and Derry). None of them are going to be easy but we want to prove ourselves against those sides and get as high a position as we can.”

Heary believes his side are gathering momentum after two positive results last week. “Even though the Shamrock Rovers game (1-1, Tuesday) was a big derby, in many ways the game against Limerick was more important for us,” he said.

READ MORE

“Beating Limerick (2-0, Friday) puts us four points clear of them in seventh. If we were to beat Pat’s, that would leave us level on points with Sligo Rovers who are in fifth and come to Dalymount next week.”

St Pat’s are familiar opposition for Bohs this season. As well as the two previous league encounters, the sides also faced off in both the EA Sports Cup and Ford FAI Cup.

Bohs’ only victory in those four meetings came in the EA Sports Cup (3-2) in May but Heary’s men can feel unlucky not to have won the drawn league game at Dalymount in July (1-1) and not to have forced a replay in the Ford FAI Cup quarter-final at Richmond Park earlier this month (2-3).

“Bar the first league game at Richmond in April (1-3), we’ve always given them a game,” he said. “We threw everything at them in the Cup game. We were very disappointed to come out with nothing having been in touching distance of bringing them to a replay.”

The date for this game was brought forward to Tuesday due to St Pat’s Ford FAI Cup semi-final against Finn Harps this Sunday in a competition they have not won since 1961.

Even though the defending league champions are all but out of the title race and have a massive Cup tie looming, Heary is not expecting the game to be any easier.

“We can’t be worrying about what Pat’s are thinking. We have to do our own job,” he said.

Younger members of the Bohs squad have come in for much praise this season, but it was the experienced trio of Jason Byrne (36), Dave Mulcahy (36) and Anto Murphy (32) that provided the talking points after the win against Limerick.

Byrne and Mulcahy grabbed the goals, while Murphy returned after seven weeks out with an ankle injury.

Heary added: “It was great to have Anto back. In the last few minutes, we were able to throw him on to get some game-time to get his sharpness and awareness back up.

“He had a tough tackle put in on him too, so that was a good test. He’s back sooner than we expected but you could see he was exhausted after five minutes.

“Jayo came up trumps with a lovely little dink and Muller, who was unlucky not to score against Rovers too, had a good finish to allow us to see out the game easily enough in the end.”

Paddy Kavanagh (personal commitments) returns to the squad, but Jason Byrne (knee) and Eoin Wearen (foot) are minor doubts. Kevin Devaney (toe) and Dano Byrne (cruciate) remain sidelined.

Pic by Eddie Lennon: eddielennonsportingimages.com

“WE STILL WANT TO IMPROVE”

BOHEMIANS v LIMERICK

SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 26 September, 7.45pm

Bwill take the same fighting attitude to Friday’s game against Limerick as they did to a tough derby match against Shamrock Rovers on Tuesday.

Manager Owen Heary and his squad are determined not to be seen as “just a side that turns up” or that “just sees out the season”.

“We still want to improve our performances. We still want to improve our home form. We still want to get a few more goals for Dinny, and there have to be more goals for us.”

READ MORE

As seen in recent games, his squad has bought into that approach fully. They faced Shamrock Rovers with a depleted squad: Steven Beattie and Roberto Lopes played 90 minutes despite being weakened by flu and finished “flat-out”.

“We work hard for each other. We close down the team facing us. We work as a unit. People can see the transformation since the start of the season,” said Heary.

“I thought we deserved the three points on Tuesday, but before the match, knowing we were down a lot of bodies, we would have taken the one point.”

Paddy Kavanagh and Keith Buckley covered very effectively for injured Kevin Devaney (toe) and suspended Eoin Wearen respectively.

“It was a very disciplined performance by the team. They were aggressive, they were on the front foot from the word ‘go’,” said Heary.

Strong tackles early in the game set the tone for Bohemians’ performance. “That’s what the game is missing at times. You should be allowed make aggressive tackles. There was nothing malicious there. I think referees are seeing that strong tackles can be good tackles, and they’re letting them go.”

Bohemians have overtaken Limerick in the league table but Heary expects another stiff test for his players, who also face a trip to Inchicore next Tuesday.

Limerick manager Martin Russell watched Bohemians in their last two league games and will have his team well prepared.

“We have beaten Limerick twice this year, in the cup and in the league. But they are like ourselves, they work hard and they have some strong, physical players. It will be another battle,” said Heary.

For Friday, Eoin Wearen and Jake Hyland return from suspension and Craig Walsh has served his ban but he is likely to be out with a quad injury. Kevin Devaney (toe) and Dan Byrne (cruciate) remain out.

Anto Murphy, who has been sidelined with an ankle injury, was on the bench on Tuesday and was trying to come on in added time for one of his trade-mark long throws. He is likely to a sub again on Friday as he continues to regain fitness

TAKE YOUR CHANCE

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS

SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Tuesday 23 September, 7.45pm

Bohemian manager Owen Heary is preparing his players for “games coming thick and fast” as they face Tuesday’s rescheduled match against Shamrock Rovers, who themselves come to the game just three days after the EA Sports Cup final.

“Rovers will be chomping at the bit, especially after being beaten in a cup final. But we’ll be well prepared and ready for the game,” said Heary.

For Bohemians, this derby is followed by Limerick’s visit on Friday and a rescheduled game against St Patrick’s Athletic next Tuesday.

Heary has to cope with a longer injury and suspension list than at any other time in the season. Eoin Wearen, Craig Walsh and Jake Hyland are suspended. Kevin Devaney (toe) joins Anto Murphy (ankle, but back training) and Dan Byrne (cruciate) among the injured. Steven Beattie and Roberto Lopes have had flu and one at least may miss Tuesday’s game.

read more

Heary will not want to take chances with players who are less than fully fit, as he expects the derby to be “pacey” and “asking a lot of the players”.

“It will be a chance for other players to come in and play for their positions. Hopefully, they’ll take that opportunity,” he said.

Ryan McEvoy and Keith Buckley, ‘veterans’ of many Bohs-Rovers games, are likely to feature. “Bucko is a good player and he’s a bit unfortunate that Kevin Devaney has been playing so well. But Bucko knows what to expect coming into a game like Tuesday’s. He has that bit of experience.”

Heary thought his side were “unfortunate not to get three points” from Friday’s “scrappy enough” game in Athlone. “But our attitude was right going into the game and we took the game to them.  We need to have the same attitude on Tuesday.”

“WE DIDN’T GO OUT WITH A WHIMPER, WE GAVE IT EVERYTHING”

ATHLONE TOWN v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Lissywoollen, Friday 19 September, 7.45pm

Bohemians go to Athlone determined to show they have got over their FAI Cup quarter-final defeat.

Manager Owen Heary says his team were “gutted” at not making it to a semi-final. “But our job as coaching staff is to pick them up and get them focused on the league games.

“We don’t just want to see the season out. This will be a test of the players and ourselves, how we respond after being knocked out and, it might seem, with nothing much to play for.”

The narrow defeat to St Patrick’s Athletic was hard for players and coaches to take, said Heary. “When they had a player sent off we threw absolutely everything at them, got a goal back and we’re unfortunate not to get an equaliser.

READ MORE

“But the positive thing for me was that we didn’t go out with a whimper. We gave it everything.”

Bohemians are now fully concentrated on securing maximum points from the remaining league games to secure at least a mid-table finish.

“Last year the target was to avoid relegation, this year eighth or better, next year we’ll be aiming to go higher. If we can keep the basis of the team we now have for next season, we can improve further.”

Training has focused on set-pieces as half of the ten goals conceded in the last four games have come that source.

“We tidied up on that during the year, so it’s disappointing that we conceded from set pieces in recent games when we were well in the game or getting back into it,” said Heary. “That’s down to a lack of concentration and maybe thinking we’re safe.”

Bohemians face an Athlone side with a target to make it into the play-offs at worst. “Athlone have done well over recent weeks, they’ve turned a corner and I’m they’ll be fired up for Friday,” said Heary.

All Bohemians’ opponents in the coming games, including next Tuesday’s opposition, Shamrock Rovers, still with European ambitions, have something to fight for. “We have all the top teams, bar Dundalk, to play and I’m sure the fans would like to see us compete against these teams.”

For Friday Bohemians will be without Eoin Wearen (suspended), Ryan McEvoy (back injury), Dan Byrne (cruciate) and Anto Murphy (ankle). However, Murphy has returned to training and may make it back for next weekend.

His return would be a boost to the team, which has had to be shuffled and reshuffled to cover for absences at the back. Last Friday Steven Beattie was at left back, having earlier played at right back, on the wing and in attack.

“He has played every position except in goal. With our resources, those are kind of players we have to sign, who can play in numerous positions,” said Heary. Along with Beattie, Derek Pender, Kevin Devaney, Dave Mulcahy, Roberto Lopes and Keith Buckley are among those who have featured in two positions or more.

“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.

READ MORE

“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.”

Website by Simon Alcock