“WE WON’T BE LACKING IN CONFIDENCE”

Two in-form teams meet on Friday night when seventh-placed Bohemians go to the Brandywell to take on sixth-placed Derry City, writes LUKE O’RIORDAN.

Bohs – unbeaten in six in all competitions – travel north buoyed having finally secured their first home league win of the season with an emphatic 2-0 victory against title challengers Cork City last Friday.

“We knew that win was coming,” said manager Owen Heary. “We’ve been playing well but a lot of little things have cost us at home all year: sendings-off, penalties, not taking our chances and some refereeing decisions.

“But we’ve been strong throughout. We’ve been creating a lot of chances but not taking enough of them – I would have been more worried if we weren’t creating opportunities and players weren’t getting into positions.

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“Nobody really gave us a chance against St Pat’s or Cork City but we got four points out of those games, so we won’t be lacking in confidence.”

Heary, however, is expecting a tough test at the Brandywell. Bohs’ last win at the venue came in September 2009 – they have lost four and drawn one of their five games there since.

Just three points separate the sides now with Derry sixth on 27 and Bohs seventh on 24 but the task facing the Gypsies is all the more daunting as the Candystripes have hit top form under Peter Hutton, who replaced Roddy Collins as manager in May.

Hutton’s men are unbeaten in six domestic games and have scored 11 in their two most recent victories over UCD (6-1, a) and Bray Wanderers (5-0, h).

And Heary said: “Derry are a much-changed team since the side we played in Dalymount (1-1 in May). We should have won that game but Peter came in shortly afterwards and has changed everything around.

“I know him well from his time at Shelbourne and from coaching courses. I knew he’d go in and do well and they’re on a high now.

“But our confidence is high too. That’s the thing about young players, they don’t lack confidence, especially after a run of good results.”

With one eye on Monday’s EA Sports Cup semi-final against rivals Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount Park, Heary is relieved to have a full squad to select from tomorrow.

Steven Beattie was eventually withdrawn as a precaution after banging his head while scoring the opener against Cork City last week, but he has suffered no ill-effects. Anto Murphy (shoulder) sat out training on Monday but has played a full part in sessions since.

“It’s important that we have everyone available as we’ve two massive games over the next four days,” Heary said. “We’ve got a settled team now and everyone is enjoying it but we’ll have to rotate a little between the two games.”

Heary is also delighted to have kept hold of his most important players over the July transfer window, with 23-year-old midfielder Kevin Devaney the most recent player to sign professional terms after two years as an amateur with the club.

“Kevin’s improved a lot as a player and there was interest in him over the window,” Heary added. “We haven’t got great resources here but thankfully we’ve kept the squad intact.

“There was interest in the likes of Eoin Wearen too, but he is already under contract until the end of the season. It’s a squad game and other clubs taking notice is a testament to how well Eoin and the other young players around him have done in recent weeks and months.

“When you’re keeping someone like Dave Mulcahy out of the team, you know you’re doing something right.”

Pic by Eddie Lennon – eddielennonsportingimages.com

“WE CAN MIX IT WITH THE BEST”

BOHEMIANS v CORK CITY
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dalymount Park, Friday 25th July, 8pm

Bohemians boss Owen Heary is hoping his side can continue their good form following an unwanted two-week break from competitive action. With last week’s trip to Sligo postponed following the Bit O’Red’s European travels, it’s been a fortnight since the Gypsies’ excellent performance in the 1-1 draw at home to champions St Pat’s, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

Heary puts the good run of form (undefeated in five) down to a mixture of hard work and having a settled team. “It’s down a settled team alright, but its also down to the fact that everyone is working hard in training. You can see their fitness level is good, they’re starting to get into a bit of a rhythm now as well. It’s down to the players – they’re the ones working hard in training and off the pitch.”

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Heary hopes the players can keep that intensity for the visit of title-chasing Cork City, who arrive in a wonderful vein of form under John Caulfield. Unfortunately, the spectre of no home wins is still lurking over the Phibsborough side. “It’s unfortunate that we haven’t got that little bit of luck at home – lots of people who watched the Pat’s game said we deserved to win, you think about the penalty against Athlone, one or two sendings off, we’ve been unlucky. But at least we’ve been picking up some points as well as getting good results away from home, and hopefully we can rectify that home form this week.”

Cork City have been a revelation in the league this season (joint top with Dundalk going into Friday’s game), but Heary isn’t surprised by the Leesiders’ fortunes. “They’re like the Cork teams of old – they’re strong, physical, they can mix it if they want. But they’ve also got some very good young players. The squad they’ve put together is excellent, I said it at the start of the season and they’ve proved it”.

Bohs were excellent on a wet night in Turners Cross in April, and Heary is looking to take the positives from that 1-1 draw into tomorrow’s fixture. “We should’ve won that game, we had three or four great chances to win it in the second half. We matched them all over the pitch, and going down to Cork and playing like that means that it shows – mentality wise – that we can go and give the bigger teams a game.”

Heary was disappointed not to be able continue on from the Pat’s game, but hopes his side can keep up the good work against Cork City this Friday. “I would have liked to have played the game (against Sligo), it would have been a good time to get them after playing in Europe,” he added. “Unfortunately it means we’ll have to play them on a Monday or a Tuesday, which will be difficult. Sligo are a full-time team, so it’s tough on our lads who have to take time off work. But we know we can mix it with the teams ahead of us, so hopefully we can push on, get a few more wins, and get a top-half finish.”

Heary may have to plan without midfielder Craig Walsh, who is doubtful after a bout of tonsillitis during the week, while former Ballymena United goalkeeper Aaron Shanahan has been brought in to provide competition for Dean Delany for the No 1 jersey.

“WE’RE CAPABLE OF BEATING THEM”

BOHEMIANS v ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 11 July, 8pm

Bohemians welcome the league champions to Dalymount for a televised match (Setanta Ireland) following three wins in four competitive games, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Those wins all came on the road but manager Owen Heary is confident his side’s home form will improve.

“Against Athlone here it was only a missed penalty between us and a win. We beat Pat’s here in the EA Cup and they had a decent team out that night [6 May].

“So, we know we’re capable of beating them, and we know we’ve just been a bit unlucky in terms of winning games in Dalymount.”

Even with Keith Fahey suspended, St Patrick’s will represent very formidable opposition, added Heary. “They have a massive squad, and not only a lot of players, but players of high calibre. They have a European game next week but they have the squad to cover both games.

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“We are coming into this one on a high and we will take the game to them. We’re not going to sit back and see what Pat’s have, because if you sit off them they will punish you.”

Heary was happy that Bohemians started last week’s game in Limerick at the level of intensity he wanted. They were unlucky to concede a goal against the run of play, from failing to deal with a long throw.

“We deserved the three points down there. We created most of the chances in the first half and in the second half we took two of the late chances. It was positive that we kept going till the 90 minutes. That win proved that the earlier one in the cup wasn’t a fluke,” said the Bohemian manager.

The win was secured despite Dinny Corcoran having a penalty saved for the second match in succession. Heary commended his striker for having the confidence to step up again, when the experience of the World Cup shows that the very best players can miss penalties.

“I wasn’t one for taking penalties and I have full respect for anyone that does. I didn’t see anyone else last week rushing to take the penalty.”

Stuart Taylor quit as Limerick manager in the days after that defeat, joining Ian Barraclough and Robbie Horgan among the recent managerial casualties. Clubs that are putting bigger investments into their facilities and squads have higher expectations, observed Heary.

“If you have a full-time squad like Limerick you expect to be doing a lot better than where they are at present. Drogheda too have put a lot of money in.

“That increases the pressure on the manager. Thankfully, I don’t think I’m under too much pressure of that kind.”

Eoin Wearen put in another solid performance last Friday in midfield, having impressed both there and in defence since he joined ten weeks ago. His first goal for Bohemians was just reward for his efforts, according to Heary.

The manager will reshuffle his midfield this week with captain Dave Mulcahy’s return from hamstring injury. Defender Aidan Price also comes back from ankle injury but left-back Jack Memery will have a late fitness test for a knock to the knee.

Heary will take the opportunity of friendlies against Dundee United (Saturday, 12 July, 3pm) and Wolverhampton Wanderers (Wednesday, 16 July, 7.45pm) to give ‘fringe’ players and some under-19s a test at higher levels.

Pic: Eoin Wearen in action against St Pat’s in the EA Sports Cup (Eddie Lennon, eddielennonsportingimages.com)

“WE NEED TO START THE WAY WE FINISHED LAST FRIDAY”

LIMERICK v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, Thomond Park, Friday 4 July, 7.45pm

Bohemians go to Limerick aiming to repeat their cup win there just four weeks ago. But manager Owen Heary recognises that the recent meeting between the two sides may do Bohemians’ opponents as much of a favour as it does to his team, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

“They know more about us, just as we know more about them. We hadn’t beaten Limerick since they came back to the Premier Division. It does give the lads confidence, knowing we can go down there and beat them on their own patch.”

Both teams come to this rematch hoping to better last week’s results and Heary expects that Limerick will be “an improved team”, while Bohemians “need to start the way we finished last Friday”.

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Heary’s team came back last week from two goals down to secure a draw against Athlone Town, putting victory within their grasp.

“We only really came alive in the last 40 minutes of the game. We seemed to be in holiday mode before that,” said Heary. “When Kevin [Devaney] came on, it changed the game. From him making that run and getting that goal, it lifted everyone’s intensity.”

Dinny Corcoran left the field distraught having missed a late penalty. But Heary points to Corcoran’s earlier equaliser from play and his two penalties converted two weeks earlier against Bray.

“I have no problem with Dinny stepping up to take another penalty. The Athlone goal-keeper made a good save, but it was a killer that we couldn’t take the chance to win the game. The pleasing thing is that we showed the character and bottle to come back from two-nil down.”

With the opening of the transfer window, Heary has another option in attack, as Adam Evans, most recently with Inverness Caledonian, comes into the reckoning.

But the manager’s preference is to see Evans improve his match fitness and ease him into competitive appearances with a start in one or both of the forthcoming friendlies (v Dundee United, 12 July; v Wolverhampton Wanderers, 16 July).

Derek Pender returns from quad injury for the Limerick game but captain Dave Mulcahy (hamstring) remains out. Aidan Price (ankle) faces a late fitness test.

Stephen Traynor has left the squad as he prepares to return to university for a Masters programme.

“Stephen has been brilliant for the club in his four years here. He was devastated at having to go but he has to think of his career ahead,” said Heary.

“He has worked hard and when he’s got a chance he has taken it well. We’re sorry to see him go but we wish him the best of luck.”

Five players* have left the squad in recent weeks for various reasons. All were on amateur terms, meaning that Heary has very few resources to add to the squad. However, he expects to conclude a deal with an experienced goal-keeper by the end of this week.

He will use this month’s friendlies to give a taste of senior team action to some under-19 players, including a few of the recent recruits from Crumlin United.

Heary is looking to one of these, 17-year-old Stephen Best, a centre-half, to step up quickly. He has been training with the senior team and “hasn’t looked at all out of place”.

*Philly McCabe, Andy Mulligan, Lee Murphy, Darragh Reynor, Stephen Traynor.

Pic by Eddie Lennon – eddielennonsportingimages.com

“A FEW WINS AND IT COULD TURN INTO A VERY GOOD SEASON”

BOHEMIANS v ATHLONE TOWN
SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dalymount Park, Friday 27 June,7.45pm

Bohemians are looking for their first home win and Athlone Town for their first away points when the two sides meet at Dalymount on Friday, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Both teams had high-scoring wins in their last league matches and Bohemians achieved their first successive victories, with one each in cup and league.

A win on Friday could, depending on results for other teams, move Bohemians one or two places up the table.

“That’s what we need to aim at and keep building on. Athlone got a great result against Drogheda before the break, and they were unlucky against Dundalk. They’ve managed to turn around their league form,” said Bohemian manager Owen Heary.

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“So, it’s important that we are well tuned in, and that we do our job and aren’t relying on things happening elsewhere.”

Heary took almost as much satisfaction from the clean sheet as from the five goals against Bray two weeks ago. That decisive victory was also achieved without three key players, captain and vice-captain Dave Mulcahy and Derek Pender, and Steven Beattie, Man of the Match in the previous week’s cup tie.

“We went into the Bray game very positive after the cup result against Limerick. We controlled the game from start to finish. We got into them high up the pitch. With some players out, others came in and stepped up to the plate.”

The manager commended his players’ performances from Kevin Devaney and hat-trick scorer Dinny Corcoran up front, to Eoin Wearen and Roberto Lopes who were “excellent in the middle”, to Jack Memery who returned to left back after a long time, and to Dean Delany who made a “tremendous save” at 2-0.

Heary is focused on securing and maintaining at least a mid-table position for Bohemians. He is not setting points targets for groups of matches but rather seeking to get maximum return from each match as it comes up.

“The target this week is to beat Athlone. We’ll take one game at a time. I know it’s a cliché but we have to do it this way, with the position we’re in. But if we can get a few wins, it could turn into a very good season for us.”

The break in the league campaign has brought its gains and losses, according to Heary. It allowed some players to take a holiday but, equally, it exposed them to renewed injury risks as they returned to intensive training after a week out.

Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Steven Beattie (ankle) face late fitness tests, as do Derek Pender (quad) and Dave Mulcahy (hamstring) who are still recovering from pre-break injuries.

Like other football fans, the players have been absorbed in the World Cup finals and discussing the various tactics and strategies applied. Heary has noted the shift from the preferred approach of recent years, holding the ball at length and building up slowly, to a more direct movement of the ball from back to front.

“There’s more emphasis on attack. They’re going the quickest route to goal and playing the pressure game. It’s interesting to watch and see the different scenarios,” he commented.

“Players are looking at these things and they can see, for example, how Chile are pressing high up the park.”

On a rest day in the World Cup Heary is hoping for Bohemian fans to turn out in big numbers to help the team secure that elusive home win and build new momentum for an improved second-half of the season.

Website by Simon Alcock