SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 18 March 2016, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Keith Long has challenged his side to show what they are made of.

On Monday, the Gypsies conceded two goals in the opening 13 minutes before eventually succumbing to a 3-0 Dublin derby defeat away to St Patrick’s Athletic.

And Long wants to put that right when Wexford Youths provide the opposition at Dalymount Park on Friday night.

He said: “It was extremely disappointing. It was a very poor performance and they were bad goals to concede.

“We’ve got to bounce back and put that right. Let’s get back on the horse, give a spirited performance and show what we are made of.”

Despite newly-promoted Wexford losing their opening three games, Long is taking nothing for granted.


He said: “They’re a good side and have been playing together under Shane Keegan for a few years now. They’re improving and only lost by the odd goal against Dundalk on Monday.”

Mistakes at the back are proving a concern – Bohs’ only clean sheet of the season so far came in the 1-0 victory against Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park last Friday.

Long said: “We’ve conceded five goals in three games. We’ve got to tighten up both individually and collectively.

“We have to play to our strengths, become difficult to play against again and stop giving away soft goals.”

Despite a two-goal deficit at the break, Bohs looked like getting back into the game in the second half against the Saints before the dismissal of Ismahil Akinade for a second booking ended any hopes of a comeback.

Long said: “We obviously had words at half-time. For a 20-minute period in the second half, we dominated the game albeit without creating as many chances as we would have liked.

“But the game is played over 90 minutes, not 20. We’ve got to put in a 90-minute performance against Wexford Youths.”

Bohs’ chances against St Pat’s weren’t helped by the late withdrawals of defenders Anto Murphy (virus) and Lorcan Fitzgerald (calf).

Long said: “It doesn’t help when 50% of your back four is ruled out just before a game. But I am not making excuses for our performance, you play with the hand you’re dealt.”

Viral infections have again hampered preparations for the visit of Wexford Youths, with the availability of Murphy, Stephen Best and Eoin Wearen in doubt.

Fitzgerald (calf) is also a doubt, while Akinade is serving a one-game suspension for his red card against St Pat’s.

“We’ll take the game to St Pat’s”

SSE Airtricity League, Richmond Park, Monday 14 March 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long says Bohemians intend to “take the game to St Pat’s” in the Dublin derby at Richmond Park on Monday.

After an opening night defeat to Cork City, a stunning finish by Kurtis Byrne got the Gypsies’ season up and running with a 1-0 win against Sligo Rovers at Dalymount Park on Friday.

Bohs boss Long said: “It was a great goal by Kurtis. He took it early and caught the keeper out, so we’re really pleased that he scored on his competitive home debut.

“It was a real bit of brilliance in a game that probably lacked quality throughout.


“We were facing into the unknown a bit with a Sligo team containing so many new faces.

“If you had offered me a scrappy 1-0 win before the game, I’d have taken it.

“Sligo are a good side and will cause teams problems when all their new players settle in, so we were delighted to get the three points against them.”

Facing into a third league game in 11 days, Long is eager for his side to push on now.

He said: “There have been changes at St Pat’s with plenty of new faces. They’re fancied to be up there at the end of the season.

“But we can go to Richmond with confidence after Friday’s result, knowing we can improve on that as well.

“Without dominating possession against Sligo, we created enough chances to increase our lead. I’m confident there are goals in this side.”

With Roberto Lopes returning from his one-match ban, Long has a full squad to choose from.

He added: “It’s great to have competition for places. A selection headache is not a bad complaint to have.

“While we’ve no major concerns, games are coming thick and fast now. It is our third game already after a long off-season, so we don’t want to over-extend players either.”

“We are feeling positive and are looking forward to it”

SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 11 March 2016, 7.45pm

Keith Long has urged Bohemians to show more quality on the ball as they aim for victory in their first home league game of the season.

Bohs and Sligo Rovers tasted defeat in their league openers last weekend, so both sides will be determined to get points on the board when they go head-to-head on Friday night.

Long said: “We don’t have to pick them up after last week – that comes from within. The team are feeling positive and are looking forward to it.


“It’s been a long off-season and it’s our first home game. Supporters have been waiting for Friday night football at Dalymount Park for months now.

“We will be doing our level best to win and give them a good performance.”

Second-half defensive errors saw the Gypsies succumb to a 2-0 loss away to Cork City last Friday.

But there were plenty of positives to take from the game too, with Long’s men on top in the opening half against a side who have finished runners-up for the past two seasons.

Long said: “We went down with a game-plan that worked to a point. We had been good defensively and played a lot of the game in Cork’s half.

“There wasn’t a lot in it, but we were slow coming out in the second half and it was a bad first goal to concede – a basic error.

“We didn’t recover from it. To concede again ten minutes later meant the game-plan went out the window.”

Long admits Bohs are still a work in progress and has identified areas where he believes they need to improve.

He said: “As well as trying to reproduce the level of our first-half performance from last week, we also want to add to that a bit more quality when we’re on the ball.

“But we know we’re not the finished article yet. We are still integrating new signings and we’re looking to improve.”

Another man looking to integrate new players will be Long’s opposite number tomorrow, new Sligo Rovers manager Dave Robertson.

The former Peterborough United boss handed debuts to eight of his starting XI in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Shamrock Rovers at the Showgrounds.

Long added: “With so many new players having signed from England, Sligo are something of an unknown quantity this season.

“We went to watch them on Saturday and were somewhat unlucky to lose by two goals having had two players sent off.

“They’ve good players and played well, but we have identified areas we hope to exploit too.”

Bohs have no injury concerns going into the game with Roberto Lopes, who serves a one-match ban after being sent off against Cork, the only absentee.


SSE Airtricity League, Turner’s Cross, Friday March 4 2016, 7.45pm

Bohemians kick off the 2016 season away to Cork City on Friday with manager Keith Long telling his players: “Embrace the occasion.”

A near-capacity crowd is expected at Turner’s Cross for the pick of the opening-day fixtures, which is also being broadcast on RTÉ 2.

Long said: “The players need no motivation going into this. It’s been a long off-season, so we’re really looking forward to it now.

“There will be a big, partisan crowd. But that’s what you want. Players want to play in front of full stadiums, in front of a vocal and intimidating atmosphere.


“We know it’s going to be a big challenge. It’s up to our players to rise to that and to enjoy the occasion. They need to embrace it and not be afraid to express themselves.”

Having been eclipsed by Dundalk for the league title two years in a row and again in last season’s FAI Cup final, there is expectation on Leeside.

John Caulfield’s side laid down a marker with a 2-0 President’s Cup win against Stephen Kenny’s Lilywhites last Saturday.

Long said: “Cork have been impressive in pre-season and the performance last week against Dundalk will be the barometer for them.

“But we can’t worry too much about Cork, we need to concentrate on our own performance.”

Exceeding expectations with a fifth-placed finish last year, the Gypsies’ form has gathered momentum again in recent weeks.

Having stuttered early in pre-season, Bohs come into this game on the back of two strong results: a 3-0 Leinster Senior Cup win away to Drogheda United and, most recently, a 4-1 friendly victory at home to Athlone Town last Saturday.

Long added: “Pre-season performances were mixed but the most important thing is that players are finding their feet now.”

Among those “finding their feet” are three new additions to the first team, strikers Kurtis Byrne and Mark Quigley, and midfielder Aymen Ben Mohamed, who signed from Dundalk, Derry City and Longford Town respectively.

Long added: “Kurtis has looked sharp. He will be a great addition to the team both in terms of goals and assists.

“Mark brings invaluable experience. As well as having great quality, he has matured and really wants to do well. He has the ability – and the guile and nous – to open up opposition teams.

“Aymen is a very technical player. He’ll have fans on the edge of their seats. They all add to what was already a good group of players who can’t wait to get started.”

Bohs have a full team to squad to select from and bolstering Long’s options is 38-year-old defender/midfielder Dave Mulcahy, who this week re-signed for a fifth season at the club.

“We expect a partisan atmosphere”

SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, Friday 30 October, 7.45pm

Bohemians have beaten the odds to bring the battle for Europa League qualification down to the last game of the season.

With a run of four draws, then three wins, Bohemians’ players “have shown exceptional character and I’m immensely proud of them,” said manager Keith Long. “With a fighting chance of European qualification they will leave nothing behind to ensure we get the right result.”

But they know the final outcome is partly out of their hands. “We have no control over what happens in Galway,” said Long. St Patrick’s Athletic go there in need of just one point to secure that European place.


“It’s fantastic to have something at stake coming into the last game. Hopefully we’ll have a packed Dalymount Park getting behind the lads. It will be a great occasion and one the players’ efforts richly deserve.”

This occasion will also be reward for the fans, Long said. “The supporters have been magnificent for us all year. They appreciate the virtues the players have brought to the jersey. We expect a partisan atmosphere in Dalymount and I’m sure the fans will come out in big numbers and lift us to greater heights.”

But Cork City will not be mere spectators in a Bohemian spectacle. “They will be looking to cement second place,” Long insisted. “Their players will also be looking to get into the starting line-up for the FAI Cup final. So, they have everything to play for.”

Bohs have not forgotten that their heaviest defeat of the season was a 4-0 drubbing in Turner’s Cross at the end of July.

Recent three-pointers have been hard-won, at home against St Patrick’s Athletic and on the road in Sligo and Derry. At the Brandywell, after an open first-half, with five goals shared, Bohemians “had to be gritty in the second half and we defended better as a unit. Dean [Delany] again pulled off some vital saves”.

A first-half pair of goals from Ismahil Akinade was crucial in the victory. The 21-year-old striker brought his tally in the league to ten goals from 17 games, since he joined Bohemians in June. Last week, he was short-listed for the PFAI Young Player of the Year award, having played only part of the season.

“Izzy has been exceptional for us. He works extremely hard. He’s got pace and power. He’s got that pure physicality that defenders do not like and he’s been adding the finishing touch to his game,” Long said.

”He has been improving with us, playing with better players and getting better service. He has repaid the faith the club has shown in him. He is a big part of why we are in the position we are in now.”

Bohemians have defenders Lorcan Fitzgerald and Stephen Best back from injury, and captain Roberto Lopes returns from suspension. Only long-term injuries Derek Pender and Marc Griffin are missing for this final game.

“The lads are chomping at the bit. They realise we have a great opportunity,” said Long. “Hopefully we’ll be able to grasp it and secure the three points and Lady Luck smiles on us in Galway.”

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