THE REAL DUBLIN DECIDER

BOHEMIANS v SHAMROCK ROVERS (Dalymount Park, Friday August 16th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians are aiming to get points to match their improved performances in defence as they welcome old rivals Shamrock Rovers on Friday.

Manager Owen Heary sees his side as having gained in discipline and structure, and against Cork City “defended excellently” for more than 90 minutes.

“It was a vast improvement on what we have done in the last few games, and then we had the sucker punch in the 95th minute,” he said.

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Heary felt keenly his players’ disappointment but observed that the depth of disappointment reflected their exceptional work-rate.

“The Rovers game is a good one to come at this point because we need to bounce back quickly. The lads know what is expected of them. They believe in what we are doing, and they know they are going in the right direction.”

Heary is not inclined to move players around, and even less to select himself, in order to strengthen the defence further.

He also saluted the outstanding performance of goalkeeper Dean Delany against Cork and in bringing off a series of top-class saves in earlier games, even against UCD when Bohemians conceded three goals.

“He’s a senior player and he’s stepping up to the plate,” said Heary of the only player in his squad to play all 24 league games this season.

Daniel Byrne made his Bohemian début against Cork City as a substitute on 80 minutes, having recently signed from Kilbarrack United. Heary was delighted for Byrne to get on for the club he supports as a fan. He expects the 20-year-old defender/midfielder to be a “vital part” of his plans for the rest of the season, as all the players in his squad fight for places.

For Friday the Bohemian manager must plan without former Shamrock Rovers player Karl Moore (suspended) and Ciaran Nangle (ankle injury), but Keith Buckley returns from suspension and Andy Mulligan from hamstring injury, giving Heary crucial choices to make in midfield.

“Karl has been brilliant for us in the last few matches. He’s a natural winger and you don’t get many of them these days,” said Heary. “But Andy Mulligan has that too, Keith Buckley is back, and Kevin Devaney can be a threat to the Rovers defence on the right. So we have options.”

Shamrock Rovers will be missing several leading players through suspension but Heary is keenly aware of the strength-in-depth of the rivals’ squad.

“We’ll focus on what team we think they will put out,” he said. “In these derbies, form goes out the window, as we have seen in the last few games against Rovers. It’ll be down to keeping our discipline and sticking to the game plan.

“This is massive for the club, massive for the fans and, particularly, it’s massive for the team.”

Forward Chris Lyons (bruised ribs) faces a late fitness test for Friday, though he trained this week. He has been joined in training by fellow-forward Eoin Rhodes, recently signed to Bohemians’ under-19 squad from Ross Celtic in Co. Wexford.

Rhodes featured in last month’s friendly against Glenavon and scored a hat-trick in an under-19s’ pre-season match against Baldoyle United. He is one of three recent under-19 recruits from Co. Wexford.

Bohemians will play a friendly in Ferns on Saturday in acknowledgement of the contributions to the club from that county.

 

“THE LADS ARE HURT, BUT IT’S GOOD HURT”

CORK CITY v BOHEMIANS (Turner’s Cross, Friday August 9th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians go to Cork hoping that the “hurt” of last week’s defeat will spur them to higher levels of performance and concentration.

Manager Owen Heary has been working the team hard on set-pieces after conceding goals from corners and a free against UCD last week.

“The lads are disappointed and feeling hurt. But it’s a good hurt. They know they did well, even if they are disappointed at conceding those goals,” he said.

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“The training has been high-tempo because of the frustration. They know they are well capable of winning games, if they can eradicate those mistakes.”

Heary takes hope from his team’s performance. “We created chances, we got a lot of bodies forward, and UCD never threatened us in open play.

“We scored early on, we were in control of the game, and we had another chance soon afterwards. If we had got the goal later to go 2-all, I’m sure we would have gone on and won the game.”

The caretaker manager, also one of the league’s most experienced defenders, has been addressing the team’s problem of “not reacting to the second ball” when the first attempt on goal has been defended.

“It’s a mental thing, being determined that you’re not going to let the man you’re marking score,” he said. “That’s the difference between the teams at the top and teams at the bottom. The teams at the top are quicker to react and make sure the opposition don’t get on to the second ball.”

Last March in Turner’s Cross, Bohemians went ahead when Heary was first to a Ryan McEvoy corner at the near post. But Bohemians could not hold the lead, losing 2-1, and the scoreline was the same when the teams met in May in Dalymount Park.

Cork have lost four of the players who featured in those matches and, like Bohemians, changed manager following a run of poor results. Friday’s match will be Stuart Ashworth’s first league game in charge.

Heary knows Ashworth as a “good manager” through the under-19 league but he is hoping Friday’s opposition don’t get the new-manager bounce, that has been observed elsewhere in the league.

Midfielders Dave Mulcahy and Ryan McEvoy return from injury but Chris Lyons (bruised ribs), Andy Mulligan (hamstring), Stephen Doran (ankle) and Keith Buckley (suspended) are not available.

Heary is confident his players’ efforts will yield results. “The fans could see last week that the players are working hard and playing for the shirt. We have to play to win,” he said.

“UCD ARE NOT AN EASY TEAM”

BOHEMIANS v UCD (Dalymount Park, Friday August 2nd, 7.45pm)

Bohemians begin the last cycle of league games with a match that could change the look of the bottom third of the league table.

A single point and a single goal in goal difference separate Bohemians and UCD, who have two wins each in the four games they have played against each other this season.

“UCD are not an easy team. Look at their results against [Shamrock] Rovers and how they could have been 2-0 up against Shels last week. Even when they went down to nine men, Shels only beat them 2-1,” said Bohs caretaker boss Owen Heary. “You can’t take them lightly. Martin [Russell] has done a fantastic job there.”

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Heary is looking to the fans to help his side turn Dalymount performances into wins. He is looking for “that effort from everyone – myself, the players, the fans, the club as a whole” to improve Bohemians’ position.

“The fans were brilliant last week and you saw how the players celebrated the goal with them. You could sense that the lads were playing for the club,” said Heary.

“The players will make mistakes. But what matters is how you react to mistakes. If they get a positive reaction even when they make a mistake we can be all right.”

Last week’s draw against Drogheda United was encouraging, according to the manager. “We were without Derek Pender, Luke Byrne and Dave Mulcahy and Drogheda are a decent side, physically strong and well drilled. So, I was pleased to get the point out of it. It felt like a win at the end,” said Heary.

“We know from past games that, 1-0 down, we can drop our heads. The players showed great character. They bounced back, they didn’t give up and we scored a late goal, just as we scored late goals against Bray.”

When Bohemians and UCD met last in the league in May, Bohs were eight points ahead of the Students in the table, but went down 1-0 to an early goal in a feisty encounter that featured five yellow cards and a red.

The balance between the sides has changed as Heary takes his place in the dug-out for the first time since his appointment as caretaker manager. Graham O’Hanlon, coach of the under-19 team, will be at his side.

“Standing in the gantry you get to see every player and you have a better view than when you’re on the sideline. Against Drogheda I could see that we lost our shape once or twice,” said Heary. “Now I’m hoping that the lads will get positive encouragement from having me on the sideline.”

The manager was delighted at the crowd’s reaction to Anto Murphy’s return to the club but also at his former team-mate’s performance. “He went straight into defence, winning headers, winning tackles. He played some great balls and then he comes up trumps with the one throw that he had.”

Dave Mulcahy (ankle injury) faces a late fitness test for Friday. Ryan McEvoy has a recurrence of the ankle injury that kept him out for several games last month and he and Chris Lyons (bruised ribs) are likely to miss Friday’s game. But Shane Murray has trained all week following his ankle injury and is available.

Heary has brought in an additional defender/midfielder for the last round of the campaign. Daniel Byrne (20) has re-signed from Kilbarrack United, having previously been a member of Bohemians’ under-19 squad. Meanwhile, Zein Albehadlie, Conor O’Brien, Michael Scott and Santiago Miguel Falbo have been released from the senior squad.

“if the fans see the lads playing for the jersey, we can count on their support”

BOHEMIANS v DROGHEDA UNITED (Dalymount Park, Friday July 26th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians go in search of their first back-to-back wins of the season as they host Drogheda United on Friday.

Caretaker manager Owen Heary aims to channel the players’ pride at last week’s defeat of Bray to securing another win and putting his team within one point of this week’s opponents.

“We will have to start the game again at high intensity and keep that up. The players showed they could do that against Bray. We saw Karl Moore set the tone early on. He tackled back a few times as well as pressing the opposition high up the pitch.

“But from Dean [Delaney, in goal] right up through the team, all the players put in their shift,” said Heary.

The manager has drawn strength from the support the “brilliant” fans gave the team in Bray.

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“I’m telling the players that if we produce that kind of performance week in, week out, and if the fans see the lads playing for the jersey, we can count on their support,” he said.

“Expectations have gone up after that match and we have to be aware of that. But we also can’t go into our shells after one win. We have to go out and do it again and the fans will get behind us.”

Drogheda United have, like Bohemians, found it hard to get league wins over recent months. Their last victory came in mid-May, away to Limerick. But the Bohemian manager is not under-estimating them.

“They have had to deal with European commitments. They have done fantastically well last season and at the start of this season. And they don’t become a bad team overnight,” he said.

Heary is organising his campaign as caretaker manager on a match-by-match basis, not knowing how long he will be in position. “We are giving the players all the information they need about the next opponents, but I cannot set targets for groups of games, as I would like to.”

For Friday, he has to plan without suspended defenders Derek Pender and Luke Byrne. However, he has signed former Bohemian team-mate Anto Murphy and will bring him into action immediately in the centre of defence.

Utility player Murphy has been most recently with FAI Junior Cup-holders Sheriff YC, and had spells with St Patrick’s Athletic and Shelbourne since he was a trophy-winner with Bohemians. He has joined his old club days before his 31st birthday (1st August).

“He is technically good, he works hard, he’s good in the air and he has a lot of the attributes as well as the experience that we need in our side,” said Heary.

Ciaran Nangle is likely to return to the left side of defence. But Murphy’s arrival avoids having to move Dave Mulcahy back; he took a knock against Bray last week but should be fit to play his commanding role in midfield.

Midfielder Shane Murray (ankle injury) may not be available for Friday but a new option in midfield is recruit Stephen Doran (24), who has returned to his native Dublin after four years in the United States.

Doran has played with Martin Methodist College (Tennessee) and Rocket City United (Alabama) and has been training with the Bohemian squad for the past month and played in recent friendlies.

“We need to be well organised and structured”

BRAY WANDERERS v BOHEMIANS (Friday July 18th, Carlisle Grounds, 7.45pm)

Bohemians have been focusing on tighter organisation and playing further up the pitch as they prepare for their first match under caretaker manager Owen Heary.

They go to Bray determined to start a run of results that will ensure their survival in the league’s Premier Division.

“I’ve told the team it doesn’t matter how we play once we get results. We may be overplaying at times at the back and then leaving ourselves open when the ball breaks,” said Heary.

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“We need to be tighter at the back and get higher up the park, playing in the last third more than in our own back third. If you look at the strongest teams in the league, they clear their lines and play further up the pitch, and we need to do that too.”

Adapting from the short-passing style of play that has been the team’s trademark should not be a problem, according to Heary.

“The lads know they have to defend with their lives. They know where we are, and they know what I’m talking about. We’ll learn a lot on Friday about whether we can make it happen.”

Bray represent strong opposition, with some very experienced and some big players, Heary notes, though they have been conceding goals as well as scoring them. “It will be a tough game but we’ll have no fear going there. We need to believe in ourselves. We need to be well organised and structured,” said Heary. “The lads have shown in training they’re raring to go.”

Heary has reduced the numbers in senior team training to concentrate on the 22 players who are most likely to feature in the remaining games.

Aaron Callaghan’s last signing, defender Mark Byrne (22) from Crumlin United, has joined the squad but Owen Heary hopes to add a strong, experienced centre-half and he has a shortlist of candidates.

Dinny Corcoran’s return to Bohemians’ forward line is welcome; he has already shown that he can be an effective partner with Chris Lyons, says Heary.

The caretaker manager is in the relatively fortunate position of having his full squad available for Friday. Ciaran Nangle, Stephen Traynor and Ryan McEvoy (23 on Friday) have returned to training, having all been sidelined with ankle injuries.

Andy Mulligan has returned from the World University Games in Russia, where the Ireland team had its best-ever finish in fifth place, ending their campaign with a 3-1 defeat of Ukraine last Sunday.

Heary himself will not be in the dug-out on Friday; his suspension for last Friday’s sending-off as a player applies to him as a manager and will keep him out for three matches in total.  He has brought in under-19 coach Graham O’Hanlon,  who has worked closely with all the former under-age Bohemians, to run operations alongside first-team coach Terry Butler.  

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