“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.”

FRINGE BENIFITS

BOHEMIANS v LONGFORD TOWN
 EA Sports Cup, Dalymount Park, Tuesday 7 April, 7.45pm

Manager Keith Long will give fringe players a chance tonight in the first of two home games against Longford Town in four days.

Nine players have been ever-present in the starting line-up for Bohemians’ first six league games of the season, so Long believes the EA Sports can provide a platform for others to prove their worth before the sides meet again in the league on Friday.

“It’s a competition we want to do well in and we’ll be sending out a side we believe can win,” he said

“But we’ve got a good squad of players here and some will feel unlucky not to have featured so far and it’s important they are given that opportunity.

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“The likes of James O’Brien was suspended for the opening game, while people like Conor Murphy haven’t got any game-time at all.

“Dave Mulcahy will return to the squad too for the the first time this season and we would like to feature him at some stage as well.”

Despite a settled team, competition for places remains fierce as evidenced by the fact two substitutes combined for the late winner for 10-man Bohs’ 1-0 win away to Drogheda on Friday that ensured the Gypsies remain fourth in the table.

“It wasn’t a great game but having had Derek Prendergast sent off so early in the game, we showed great character to stay in it for 70 minutes, save a penalty and get the win.

“It shows we have players on the bench who can make an impact. In a game that lacked quality, it was a bit of class at the end from Kealan Dillon and Marc Griffin to come away with a great three points.”

Bohs have no major additional injury concerns tonight, although Anto Murphy and Lorcan Fitzgerald are carrying minor knocks and may be rested. Mulcahy (calf) could feature from the bench, while Dan Byrne (cruciate) is still unavailable.

“WE’VE FULLY RECOVERED AND HAVE PREPARED WELL”

DROGHEDA UTD v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League, United Park, Friday 3 April, 7.45pm

Bohemian manager Keith Long is confident his team can find the “winning habit” again after a week in which they drew one game and lost one.

“Against Shamrock Rovers the players had to dig deep and showed a lot of character, they put in a gutsy, resolute performance to get a valuable point,” he said.

“Last week was tough on a part-time squad playing three games in six days, but we have fully recovered, prepared well this week and are fully focused on the game against Drogheda.”

Going away again this Friday to Drogheda Long expects “another tough game”. “All teams in the league are capable of taking points from each other and Drogheda will be no different on Friday, we know we will have to perform to our maximum to get anything from the game.”

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Long will wait to see how his squad comes through Friday’s game in Drogheda before considering whether to make changes for the EA Sports Cup tie against Longford Town on Tuesday – three days before the two teams meet again in the league. “It’s not ideal that we have to play Longford Town twice, but that’s how the draw worked out,” he said.

Anto Murphy is available again, having missed the Shamrock Rovers game through suspension. 18-year-old Stephen Best came in for Murphy and won plaudits for his performance.

The ex-Crumlin United defender is one of the assets that Long will manage carefully. Best still has commitments to the under-19 side, now in the quarter-finals of the championship.

“Stephen is a player we have high hopes for. We have to manage his game-time for the benefit of Stephen and the team. He has a big-game mentality for someone so young and he has a good temperament. He fully justified his selection, making his full league debut against Shamrock Rovers,” the Bohemian manager said.

“If he continues to work hard, and keeps his feet on the ground, he can only improve as a player. But we are pleased with his progress to date.”

Dave Mulcahy (calf) and Dan Byrne (cruciate) remain sidelined through injury. But Mulcahy has returned to training and is already showing his influence on the players around him, according to Long.

Byrne is doing non-contact training, as he recovers from long-term injury. But he will not be rushed back, Long insists.

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