Preview: BOHEMIANS v DROGHEDA UNITED

SSE Airtricity League
Friday June 18 2021
Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Live on LOITV.ie

One of the first names on Keith Long’s teamsheet since making his debut in 2017, Rob Cornwall believes he has a battle on his hands to win back his place in the heart of the Bohemians defence.

The club vice-captain was forced off with an ankle injury in the 2-1 defeat away to St Patrick’s Athletic four weeks ago and has seen Rory Feely and Ciarán Kelly impress in the three games since from which Bohs have taken seven points.

Cornwall, 26, said: “I’m hoping I can get back into the team as soon as possible but I can’t have any complaints as the lads have done really well as we are unbeaten in the three games I’ve missed.

“Rory and Ciarán have been excellent in defence. I’m particularly happy for Ciarán as he has had to bide his time to get a run in the team but he has shown what he is capable of.

“It will be difficult for either myself or James Finnerty to get back into the team given their form but that competition for places is exactly what you want.”

In his absence, Bohs turned on the style in a 5-1 win over Dundalk and a 3-0 victory over Waterford.

But they were left kicking themselves last Friday when they once again conceded a goal deep into injury-time to hand a share of the spoils to Derry City after an Ali Coote wonder strike had given the Gypsies the lead on 83 minutes.

It was a bitterly frustrating end to the game for Long’s side, who had hoped they had stamped out that frustrating habit of conceding late goals that have turned wins into draws and draws into defeats.

Cornwall said: “It is hard to put your finger on why that has happened four or five times now this season. We know we have to be better than that.

“The performances are definitely there. We need to trust in ourselves more and believe in our game-plan, but we have to cut out those errors.

“We have a young team – I’m one of the eldest at 26 – but we need to learn and adapt quickly. We’re halfway through the season now and we are gelling well in so many ways, but we have to cut out those mistakes.”

Last time out against tomorrow’s opposition Drogheda United was a similar story – a stunning team move put away by Liam Burt and an otherwise excellent performance was undone in the 93rd minute when Bohs conceded from a corner.

Cornwall said: “Drogheda have already shown us what they are capable of. Their result against Sligo last week is further proof that they are a very good side.

“We should have won our last game against them – we had a lot of possession too – but Drogheda never gave up and were right at it right until the end of the game to get something out of it.

“They are having a great season, particularly for a newly-promoted team. They have a good mix of youth and experience not unlike ourselves. So we know we have to be right at it to get a result.”

The Europa Conference League draw at the start of the week pitted Bohs against Icelandic side Stjarnan next month but Cornwall isn’t thinking too far ahead.

He said: “I know it is a cliche to say we are only looking at our next game but it’s the truth.

“We have a very busy few weeks of games ahead and we want to move up the table – we can’t afford to be looking too far ahead.”

While frustratingly, for the second season running, Bohemians fans will be unable to travel abroad to support their team in that European qualifier, there is some sense that we are entering the twilight stage of the pandemic with the moderate return of some supporters to home games.

90 members and 10 season ticket holders will attend tomorrow’s game – the first time fans have been able to attend since our last game pre-Covid-19 against Shelbourne in March 2020.

Cornwall added: “It’s such a relief to have some fans back. Hopefully it won’t be too long before we have more in as well.

“Since returning to play football last August, it has been such a strange experience playing in empty stadiums.

“Our fans mean the world to us – there has always been a strong bond between the team and supporters in my time with the club.

“We just can’t wait to have them behind us again. It will give everyone in the team a huge lift.

“We know there’ll only be a small number in the stands initially but I’ve no doubt they will make themselves heard.”

TEAM NEWS

Bastien Héry (calf) and Conor Levingston (wisdom teeth) return but Promise Omochere (quad) remains out.

PREVIEW: DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS

DERRY CITY v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday June 11 2021
Ryan McBride Brandywell Stadium, 7.45pm
Live on LOITV.ie

Stephen Mallon had to bide his time for his first runout in the red and black of Bohemians but now he has had a taste for it, he is keen to make up for lost time.

The Belfast man was a closed season arrival in January from Sheffield United having spent last year on loan with tonight’s opposition. But he suffered a cruel blow in pre-season when he fractured his metatarsal.

He finally made his bow with a 15-minute cameo appearance in Bohs’ 3-0 win over Waterford a fortnight ago as the League of Ireland season reached its halfway point.

The 22-year-old said: “It has been a tough few months. Obviously when you arrive at a new club, you are really keen to impress early on so to get an injury in pre-season that rules you out for so long was hard to take.

“I just had to knuckle down and work hard with Remy Tang, our conditioning and fitness coach, and the physios to get back as soon as I could.

“It was great to get back on the pitch again. It will take four or five games for me to get back my march sharpness as there is only so much you can do when you are out injured – you cannot replicate what it is like playing.

“But it was a huge relief to finally get my first game under my belt. Hopefully I will get more opportunities now and push on.”

Mallon might find breaking into the team more difficult now than he might have done had he been available at the start of the season.

The pacy former Ireland U21 international was tipped to be one of Bohs’ key men this season but in his absence, after a stop-start beginning to the season, his housemates, Scottish duo Liam Burt and Ali Coote, have found real form on the flanks over the past month or so.

His rivalry with his two fellow wingers, with whom they share a house with Georgie Kelly, is very much a healthy one where they want the very best for one another.

Mallon said: “There’s no bitterness! There is a good, healthy competition. We keep pushing ourselves to be the best that we can.

“I get on really well with the lads I live with, we are all very close. We all want the very best for one another.

“The team had a bit of a slow start but sometimes that happens when you have so many new faces. It was going to take time to gel but the lads have shown what they are capable of.

“Ali and Liam have really clicked in the last month or so and I’m delighted for them both particularly as I live with them and have become good friends as a result.

“Them being so in form can only be good for me too as it makes me strive to be the best version of myself that I can be as that is the only way I will get a chance to get into the team.

“It’s good living with the three lads as we all have similar experiences – living in a new place away from home.

“But the Dublin lads, and the players who were at the club from before, have all been so good to us too. From day one, the players, the coaches and everyone at the club have been so welcoming to all of us.

“It is the perfect platform for us to try to push on together. There’s a great group of players, and we have been made to feel appreciated by everyone at the club.”

Given the form of Burt and Coote, tonight Mallon is likely to have to settle for a place on the bench against his former club, for whom he scored against Bohs in the Brandywell last season.

Mallon added: “Derry have beaten us already this season so we know we have to be right at it to get a result.

“I am looking forward to it, I have a lot of respect for the club and they gave me an opportunity last season.

“We are particularly looking forward to this one as this will be one of the first games with some fans back at games, which everyone is looking forward to seeing, particularly at Dalymount.”

TEAM NEWS

Tyreke Wilson returns from suspension.

Bastién Hery (calf) is likely to miss out while Promise Omochere (quad) is rated 50-50.

PREVIEW: BOHEMIANS v WATERFORD

BOHEMIANS v WATERFORD
SSE Airtricity League
Saturday May 29 2021
Dalymount Park Park, 4pm
Live on WatchLOI.ie

A gut-wrenching and undeserved injury-time defeat against St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday spurred Bohemians on to deliver a five-star stylish victory against Dundalk on Monday.

The aim now is to match those heights consistently.

Waterford, who appointed Marc Bircham as their new manager just over a fortnight ago, are the opposition at Dalymount Park this afternoon in our final game before the brief summer break.

The visitors currently prop up the league table but the Gypsies will not be taking that for granted in the knowledge they have not beaten them in the five previous meetings in Dalyer since the Blues returned to the Premier Division in 2018.

Manager Keith Long said: “Hopefully we can follow up Monday’s win with a repeat performance.

“Waterford will be better prepared with Marc having more time on the training ground with his players, so we will have to produce a really good display and be ready for the challenge to get a result.

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“On Monday, we deservedly put a number on Dundalk and we were delighted with how clinical the team were on the night.

“It would have been easy for the team to lament the concession of a late goal in Inchicore last Friday when a superb team performance did not translate into points on the board, so in that context, our performance was really excellent and full of character.”

Georgie Kelly was the man of the moment as he went home with the match ball after a perfect hat-trick – left foot, right foot and header – in the 5-1 win against his former club.

Long said: “It is fair to say that Georgie needed the confidence boost and despite his overall performances being very good it is always good when your striker gets on the scoresheet.

“I think the reaction of the dressing room after the game when Georgie came in with the match ball spoke volumes as to the esteem he is held within the group and I hope Georgie will continue to grow in a Bohs jersey.”

Both the result and classy style of play were all the more pleasing given key men in midfield and the heart of defence were missing.

Long said: “Equally as pleasing was the team performance minus our captain Keith Buckley and vice-captain Rob Cornwall through injuries.

“To a man, the boys stepped up and despite whatever difficulties Dundalk may be experiencing at this time they are still a squad full of quality players so nothing should detract from what our boys did on the night.

“Rory Feely was majestic at centre=back and, alongside Ciarán Kelly who was also excellent, restricted Dundalk attacking threats to a minimum.

“Andy Lyons was superb at right-full and fully deserves his Ireland U21 call-up along with Dawson Devoy, whose performances defy his tender years and his development as a footballer of real substance is there for all to see.

“Conor Levingston coming into the engine room after a period out of the team again epitomised the collective spirit within the group.

“It can be difficult to come in and perform after a lengthy lay-off but I thought Conor was fantastic and again reminds us of the quality he possesses and what he offers the team.

“An unassuming character, Conor is made of the right stuff. Ali Coote and Liam Burte continue to improve and show their qualities. The lads have real quality on the ball, and both have the ability to create and score goals which is a real asset for the team.”

Bohs may once again be without senior men Buckley and Cornwall who are both rated as doubtful, while Tyreke Wilson, who took the captain’s armband in their absence and score Bohs’ second on Monday with a thunderous free-kick, sits this one out as a result of the two yellow cards he picked up in the game.

Long said: “The only blemish on the night was the dismissal of Tyreke for two yellow cards having scored a brilliant free-kick and captaining the team on the night.

“I can understand why the referee deems the first tackle a yellow but for me that was a good, strong challenge and if we are taking that out of the game we might as well become basketball or some other non-contact sport.

“I’m not proportioning blame to the ref as he has to adhere to the Laws of the game. The second yellow for a tug on the jersey is very harsh but again the referees are dictated to by the laws. There is no allowance for commonsense in such scenarios and we just have to accept it and move on.

“A silver lining in this for us is the fact that we have Anto Breslin chomping at the bit to play and his contribution coming on for the sacrificed Ross Tierney shows you what type of character he is. Anto has never let us down, in fact he has been brilliant since he arrived at the club and was excellent when called upon and will continue to be a very important member of this team.”

TEAM NEWS

Tyreke Wilson is suspended while Keith Buckley (leg), Rob Cornwall (ankle) and James Finnerty (wrist) are doubts.

Stephen Mallon (metatarsal) could be named in the squad for the first time.

Preview: Bohemians v Dundalk

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
SSE Airtricity League
Monday May 24 2021
Dalymount Park, 5.45pm
Live on WatchLOI.ie

Bohemians manager Keith Long has said his side are on the right path but need to start showing a ruthless streak when opportunities arise to turn good performances into points on the board on a consistent basis.

Bohs showed such a streak in the 4-0 win over Finn Harps and 2-0 victory against Longford Town.

But against St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday, that ruthlessness eluded them as they hit the woodwork twice – from a penalty and free-kick – and passed up other goal-scoring opportunities despite some excellent play in the middle of the park.

Having fallen behind with 15 minutes remaining, Bohs felt they had earned a share of the spoils their performance deserved when Dawson Devoy equalised from the spot in the 90th minute.

With five minutes on, Bohs went in search of a winner but instead shot themselves in the foot with the concession of a late penalty that handed victory to the hosts.

This evening they will have to dust themselves down from that disappointment against a Dundalk side buoyed by victory against league leaders Shamrock Rovers on Friday in which they showed some of the swagger that has eluded them for much of this season.

Long said: “Football can be unforgiving at times. We are a good team with good players who care for this club more than people will ever know.

“Our performance against St Pat’s certainly warranted more and if we continue to perform to the levels we have shown in recent weeks, we will win more games.

“There is no doubt we need to manage games better and be ruthless when opportunities arise, but we are on the right path.”

TEAM NEWS

Stephen Mallon (metatarsal) is out while James Finnerty (wrist) is a doubt.

PREVIEW: ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday May 21 2021
Richmond Park, 5.45pm

Bohemians make the short trip to Inchicore with renewed confidence after two wins from two from the second series of games.

There was little between the sides when they met in Dalymount in April, with a Ronan Coughlan header sealing all three points for St Patrick’s Athletic.

The Saints are a much-improved outfit compared to last year and currently sit in second place. Bohs had a stuttering first series of games but now appear to have found their groove in the second series, with a 4-0 win against Finn Harps and a 2-0 win against Longford Town.

James Finnerty has been a standout performer at the back and said: “The game against St Pat’s in Dalymount, there wasn’t much in it.

“We are high in confidence now after our last two games but know it will be a very tough place to go.

“We played well in both our past two games games, keeping a clean sheet in both. The boys have been very clinical in the last few games which takes a bit of pressure off us at the back. Long may it continue!”

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Winger Liam Burt, a closed season arrival from Celtic, has also been a key man in Bohs’ upturn in form with a keen eye for goal.

Liam Burt: “I have three goals now but the main thing is trying to help the team win.

“We take huge confidence from the last two games. We had a rocky start to the season but we can take confidence from those two performances.

“Before the second run of games we had a group discussion and thought of it as a fresh start. We got the three points from the first game, which obviously boosted our confidence. But we are just taking it one game at a time.”

Manager Keith Long was also encouraged by the recent performances.

He told Ríomhaire Teilifís Bóihéamach: “We had a really good win against Longford last Saturday. Another clean sheet and another decent team performance.

“We had a particularly good first goal with quality build-up play from Dawson Devoy and Tyreke Wilson, and Liam finished it off with a wonderful strike.

“Liam has shown in previous games that he is capable of that and we are looking forward to working with Liam to continue to try and get the most from him along with others. Ali Coote got another goal too. That’s three in two games from him playing on the right-hand side.

“Two wins, two clean sheets. That brings us into the St Pat’s game. We are looking forward to the game now. We have a little bit of confidence.

“It’s a Dublin derby. Form and league positions go out of the window in a Dublin derby.

“Pat’s have had a great start to the season. They are up there near the top of the table. It is a tough place to go at the best of times but it is a good place to go and play football.

“The pitch is always good in Richmond. We are looking forward to it and hopefully we can give a good account of ourselves and get a win if we possibly can.

“It won’t be easy, it will be difficult. But we go there in a positive frame of mind and we are looking forward to the game.”

TEAM NEWS

Stephen Mallon (metatarsal) is Bohemians’ only absentee.

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