“THIS SHOULD BE WHAT A PLAYER LIVES FOR”

CORK CITY v BOHEMIANS
Friday April 25, SSE Airtricity League, Turner’s Cross, 7.45pm

Playing an in-form Cork City in front of a hostile crowd of 5,000 should hold no fear for Bohemians, according to manager Owen Heary, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

“This should be what a player lives for. You might go one place where there’s a crowd of a couple of hundred and you score three goals, or you can go to Cork where there’s a huge crowd roaring at you.

“When I was with Shels, I knew I was in for a tough time coming to Dalymount. But, as a player, that’s what you want.”

Addressing players’ fears is a key part of Heary’s current efforts to get the best out of his squad. “The players are taking heart from not being far from getting something from the best teams,” he said. “But we have to get rid of the fear factor, or going out to play worrying about what happens if…”

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Heary wants his players to approach the Cork game in a positive frame of mind. “I know we have the players to get a result. They just have to believe it. I think they do, but we just have to get the mental approach fine-tuned.”

At this stage in the season Heary expected to be better-placed in the league. “I’m disappointed that we haven’t got more points on the board. I can live with a team outplaying you, as Pats did against us. But against Limerick and Sligo we defended really well, we created the better chances, and then we go and concede a goal off a corner. We were well in those games, getting on top, and then we killed ourselves on a set-piece.

“The players have to take responsibility for tuning-out for a second and that’s something that we’re working on with them. The disappointing part is that we haven’t reacted as we should to someone making a mistake.”

Bohemians have to plan without striker Dinny Corcoran (knee ligament injury), but Jason Byrne, sat out 80 mimnutes of Monday’s match against Sligo following a strenuous 90 minutes against St Patrick’s Athletic three days earlier, is likely to start in the Cork game. Corcoran may make it back for next weeks’ home league game against Derry City.

Steven Beattie, who has proven his versatility with appearances on the wing, up-front and, most recently, shuffled to right-back, may be chosen in that position again, with Derek Pender switching to left back, where Bohemians have too often proven vulnerable.

Jack Memery (knee) has returned to light training but is not yet fit for possible selection, while Anto Murphy (hamstring) may be back training next week.

Heary expects to make several changes for Monday’s Leinster Senior Cup match in Tallaght against Shamrock Rovers. Jake Hyland and Lee Whelan, promoted from the under-19s, can expect to play and goal-keeper Dean Delany will return to start.

Another two-game weekend at the start of May will further stretch the Bohemian squad but Heary insists he would prefer to be playing in three competitions in parallel than to be already eliminated from the knock-out tournaments. “You want to be playing every game possible,” he said.

COSTLY MISTAKES OVERSHADOW POSITIVE PERFORMANCE

BOHEMIANS v SLIGO ROVERS
SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Monday 21 April, 3pm

Bohemians are looking to halt a slump of two defeats in a row when they host Sligo Rovers on Easter Monday. A poor performance at home to Limerick nine days ago was followed up with a much improved display away to the champions St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday evening, yet yielded the same result.

Manager Owen Heary bemoaned his players’ costly mistakes but found some positives too. He said: “I was happier that we played a lot better against St Pat’s than we had in some of the previous few games. We created chances, which we hadn’t done against Limerick.

“But Pat’s are a very experienced side throughout compared to the team we had out. They will let you play football the right way but they’ll also punish you if you make mistakes and that’s what happened.

“It was a fantastic goal from Jason Byrne to give us the lead but we only managed to hold on to the lead for four minutes and that’s really not good enough.

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“We work hard all week on trying to eradicate individual mistakes from our game, so it’s frustrating when it happens again. They’re not small mistakes. They’re big ones if they’re costing us goals and results.”

The fixture list hasn’t helped Bohs’ bid to get more points on the board but Heary has challenged his players to step up and prove their worth.

He said: “You could say we’re unfortunate in that we’re playing three of the best sides in the league – Pat’s, Sligo and Cork – in a row but that’s what the players should want. They should be wanting to go out and play against the best in the league – to push themselves, to better themselves and test themselves against the very best.

“We all knew Sligo were going to come good eventually and they’ve shown that in their last few games where they’ve scored goals for fun against St Pat’s and UCD and got a good draw away to Cork in between. We know we’re up against one of the best teams around.”

Heary admitted the return of club captain Dave Mulcahy, who played the full 90 minutes on Friday in what was his first appearance since the opening day of the league season after knee and calf injuries, was a “massive plus” but he is set to tinker with his line-up again as there are “a lot of tired bodies”.

“We did very well to get 90 minutes out of Jason too,” he added. “We would have liked to have taken him off after around 70 minutes but with Dinny Corcoran out, Jay was the best person to get us back into the game so we had to leave him on. But there were a lot of tired bodies on Friday and you don’t want to be flogging players, so we will change things around in certain areas.”

Heary’s options are limited by the continued absence of Corcoran, who will have a scan on his knee injury on Tuesday, as well as Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Jack Memery (knee). Goalkeeper Dean Delany returns to the squad after serving his additional one-match ban for the red card he received against Bray Wanderers earlier this month.

“THIS IS WHAT IT’S ALL ABOUT”

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
Friday April 18, SSE Airtricity League, Richmond Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians go to Inchicore aiming to protect an unbeaten record in away games. Both of Bohs’ victories in the league have come on the road, and they have also secured a draw against league-leaders Dundalk on their travels, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Friday’s game against St Patrick’s Athletic is one of a packed schedule of six matches in 18 days against the top sides in three competitions. But “this is what it’s all about”, according to Bohemian manager Owen Heary.

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“These will be difficult games. The squad will be tested, as some of the players aren’t used to playing game after game after game. But we have to get them into the right mindset.”

Of the last six league games Bohemians have played at Inchicore, three have been draws and Bohs have won one.

“Pat’s have a quality squad and they know better than anyone that they have not played to their potential,” said Heary. “For us, it’s a bit like we were against Dundalk. We need to be positive when we have the ball and tight when we don’t have it.”

Heary expects a more entertaining game than the grim encounter with Limerick last week. “The two teams like to play football. It will, hopefully, be not too open a game. But the two teams like to get on the ball and pass it.”

Bohemian skipper (and ex-Pats player) Dave Mulcahy is expected to make his first appearance of the league season following calf and knee injuries but defender Anto Murphy (hamstring) remains out “for another three or four weeks”.

Goalkeeper Dean Delany is suspended, completing his two-match ban on Friday, and Dinny Corcoran is sidelined with a knock to the knee, but may make it back for Monday’s home game against Sligo.

Veteran striker Jason Byrne looks likely to start, as he did against Dundalk and Athlone Town. “He’s a smashing player, and he knows where the goal is. But we have other options as well, so I’m not too worried about it,” said Heary.

Last week’s defeat at home to Limerick was frustrating for the squad to review, the manager said. “It’s the first time we haven’t created an awful lot of chances. In the last third of the pitch we just weren’t creating enough.

“Maybe there was a bit of nervousness too, knowing we haven’t won at Dalymount. But then you look at Stephen Traynor’s shot. It’s going in and it hits a bobble and goes wide.

“Limerick didn’t create chances either. It was the second phase of play from their corner, some of our lads lose their man, and they score. ”

Heary has been getting the players focused on the next game, even though they were “gutted”.

“That’s a game we should have seen out for a nil-all draw, at worst. I know we’re a better team than that.”

“A HOME VICTORY WOULD BE GOOD FOR US ALL”

BOHEMIANS v LIMERICK
Friday April 11, SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians are looking to secure seven points in eight days as they welcome Limerick to Dalymount on Friday, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

With a hard-won point from last week’s home match and a more comfortable three-point trip to Athlone, Bohemians will be “happy with seven points from nine – that will be a massive week for us”, according to manager Owen Heary.

Limerick have yet to win this season but they had a 100 per cent record in three league matches against Bohemians last year.

“They have to get a win some time, but hopefully not on Friday. It was the same against Athlone. They are going to pick up points some time. But we went down and did a professional job,” said Heary.

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“Limerick work hard, they’re good on the ball and they’re capable of getting points off a lot of teams. They have had a week’s rest, so we have to have players who are fresh and ready for the game, and fully focused on getting the three points.”

Limerick recently drew against the title-holders, St Patrick’s Athletic, Heary noted. “They’re getting their full squad back and they’re not conceding many goals. They’re a big threat from set-pieces with a couple of dead-ball specialists, so it’s important that we don’t give away too many free kicks around the box.”

For Friday, Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Jack Memery (knee) are absent. Club captain Dave Mulcahy has returned to full training following a knee injury and is likely to make the matchday squad. “Dave coming back is important for us and we’ll certainly need him with a game against the champions coming up,” said Heary.

Dan Byrne and Darragh Reynor are among those who made their first league starts of this season in the last fortnight and made strong claims to keep their places.

“Darragh has a great left foot, and is good in set-pieces, and that’s been valuable in the last games. It’s not an ideal position for him to play but he’s gone in there and done a job,” commented his manager.

“Against Dundalk, Dano [Byrne] did the job of protecting the back four brilliantly, against Bray he helped pushed us forward and against Athlone he scored a goal. He reads the game very well and he’s earned his place.”

Goalkeeper Lee Murphy was called into action in difficult circumstances last Friday, after Dean Delany’s sending-off, and acquitted himself well. “Lee’s a big lad and big presence. He and Dean are pushing each other on,” said Heary. Delany has served his automatic suspension and has a further one-match suspension to serve next week. But Heary has a choice to make for Friday between the two ex-Shels keepers.

Overall, Heary reckons his team is “playing well, even if we didn’t get some results we should have. There’s a positive vibe throughout the club and in the team. I think the fans are enjoying how the team is playing. A home victory would be very good for all of us, and would set a tone for the next few weeks.”

“It’s a problem – people think there are easy games”

ATHLONE TOWN v BOHEMIANS
Monday April 7, SSE Airtricity League, Athlone Town Stadium, 7.45pm

Bohemian manager Owen Heary has warned against underestimating Premier Division new boys Athlone Town when the sides meet at Lissywoollen on Monday.

Mick Cooke’s side are propping up the table after losing all of their opening five games, but Heary pointed to their improved performance in Friday’s 3-2 defeat against high-flying Drogheda United and said: “They may be bottom but they really put it up to Drogheda, who are right up there at the moment.

“They’re new to the division, they’ve a new manager and they’ve a lot of new players. But they are improving. It’s always a problem, that people think there are easy games. It’s my job to make sure the players don’t think like that.”

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While Bohs went into Friday’s game against Bray Wanderers looking for a win, Heary was pleased by the second-half performance of his 10 men as they battled back to secure a late point through Dinny Corcoran.

Dean Delany’s foul on Jake Kelly after 20 minutes left the Gypsies both a man down and a goal down as referee Sean Grant pointed to the spot and gave the goalkeeper his marching orders. Bray midfielder Kelly was carried off on a stretcher with a fractured ankle, while Graham Kelly beat replacement netminder Lee Murphy with the resultant penalty.

Bohs were slow to respond in the first half, but returned after the break with a renewed sense of purpose. Heary said: “We came out with a game-plan for the second half. It’s difficult with 10 men but we knew if we kept our concentration, kept the ball and stayed in the game that with 15 minutes to go, we could bring on Jay Byrne, go three at the back and go for it. Thankfully Dinny Corcoran got the goal we deserved and that at least got us a point.”

Heary was critical of referee Grant’s decision to send off Delany as he believed “Derek Pender was behind Deano when the foul was committed and had the situation covered, so it wasn’t a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

“It looked like the referee was reaching for a yellow before the Bray players got involved,” he added. Heary also questioned the consistency of some other decisions and queried bookings handed out to Steven Beattie, Dan Byrne and even Bray’s Ismahil Akinade.

“It’s very frustrating,” he said. “There was a lot of time-wasting – Bray players were kicking the ball away when we were awarded throw-ins and nothing was done about it. Yet then you’ve players being yellow-carded for nothing.

“There’s a lack of consistency there and it can be frustrating for managers. Refereeing decisions have cost us in recent weeks. You look back to the Rovers game when they were awarded a penalty when we should have had a throw-in and then Dinny had a perfectly good goal ruled out. Referees can look back and go ‘I made a mistake’, but decisions are affecting results and affecting game-plans.”

Heary wished Jake Kelly a speeding recovery from his injury, adding: “It was just unfortunate, he seemed to twist his knee when he went in. It’s awful for such a young player and it looks like he could be out for a while.”

For Monday’s trip, Bohs are once again without Dave Mulcahy (knee), who has returned to training, and Anto Murphy (hamstring), while Delany will serve his one-match ban for Friday’s dismissal. Heary hopes to have a full squad to choose from on Friday when Limerick come to Dalymount Park.

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