Preview: Bohemians v St Patrick’s Athletic

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday April 14 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine believes his players have the belief and desire to build on their positive start to the season.

Bohemians bounced back from Good Friday’s Dublin derby defeat to Shamrock Rovers, with Dean Williams’ penalty enough to give his side victory against Derry City in the Brandywell on Easter Monday.

That win extended Bohs’ lead at the top of the table to six points and made it seven wins from their opening nine games.

Devine said: “We have a really tight group, who are really close together. They came in on Saturday morning and the defeat was still hurting as you would expect.

“But I think they guys knew we had underperformed. We let the game affect us mentally, and we just wanted to learn from that, get up to Derry on the Monday and show what we are capable of.

“We didn’t defend well against Shamrock Rovers. We attacked them well at certain points but we did not defend well enough.

“Our willingness to defend was something we have been good at this year and that’s what was disappointing in the Rovers game.

“We spoke about that, freshened things up with four new faces for the Derry game. The guys who came in did really well, it was a real team performance.

“Dean Williams has been flying in training but has had the best striker in the league ahead of him. Dean came in and scored the winner and showed again how good he can be for us.

“Kris Twardek has been an outstanding player over the years, has been outstanding in training too and came in and did really well.

“Jay Benn is getting fitter by the week and came in and his match sharpness was first class.

“James Clarke, who was probably Bohs’ best player after he came in last season, came in and showed again that he will have a huge role for us.

“There is serious competition and everyone wants to play. That is without James McManus who has not started the last couple of games, who was probably one of our best players this season, John O’Sullivan has come on in recent games and done really well.

“We have Jordan Flores coming back now which is a tremendous asset. Keith Buckley has come back and had a massive performance in Derry. Then you have people like Adam McDonnell who has been a constant 9/10 in every game.

“I am so happy with the squad – we were without James Akintunde and Ali Coote. But our squad has pace and power, technical ability, physical ability.”

The latter was today named as SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for March, and Devine could not hide his delight for his star man.

He said: “I am really proud of Ali. I have a lot of happiness for him. I am so happy for him. His work ethic has been outstanding.

“His work that he puts in off the ball has been as important as when he has been on the ball. His assists and his goals have been so important for us too.

“He is a pleasure to work with and the award is fully deserved.

“He has been the best player in the league, and it is important that our players enjoy individual success as well as collective success.”

Being without such key performers meant Monday’s win all the more pleasing.

Devine said: “Our work ethic was outstanding. To win in places like the Brandywell is brilliant. We defended from front to back – our attacking players had to plug a lot of gaps – and our midfield expended a lot of energy.

“I listened to some reports of the game saying that Brian Maher didn’t have a save to make, but James Talbot barely had a save to make until injury time either.

“We felt comfortable in the game. Our goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make until the 95th minute, and we didn’t have balls cleared off lines.

“It wasn’t backs-to-the-wall in the way it has been reported. It was a battle in midfield with defences on top. It certainly was not a smash-and-grab but we showed great resilience, and keeping clean sheets away from home gives you a platform to win.

“It was really pleasing. We have been outstanding on the road this year, and that has given the players great belief. We have seven wins from nine, which is a good start. But we want to keep improving. We want to get the eighth now.”

Bohs beat tomorrow’s opposition the last time they met as goals from Afolabi and Williams gave them a 2-1 victory in Inchicore.

But the Saints have had an upturn in form since, and Devine says his side will have to be at their very best once more to claim victory.

He said: “St Pat’s are on a good run of form. Their results have been very positive – they have won three on the spin.

“They are a good team. They were a good team when we played them the last time. They have a really good squad of players.

“In every game we have got to work as hard as we possibly can and this will be a very tough game that we will be ready for.

“The games cannot come quick enough for our players at the minute. They are loving playing for the club. They are loving the atmosphere that our supporters are generating.

“I have managed and coached in the Brandywell for a hell of a long time and it’s the biggest and best away crowd I have ever seen in the ground in my career.

“Our fans have been magnificent, absolutely magnificent. They have been incredible in getting the team across the line. The players are bouncing off the fans right now.”

That bond was evident from the many videos and photos circulated online following a chance meeting between the players and fans making their way home from Derry on Monday.

Devine said: “We actually met a bus load at a petrol station in Monaghan on the way home. It was incredibly pleasing for me to see the togetherness of the players and fans, and them all relating with each other, singing together, and just enjoying the moment. It was special.”


James Akintunde (hamstring) remains out, while Ali Coote (thigh) is a doubt.

Preview: Derry City v Bohemians

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Monday April 10 2023
Ryan McBride Stadium, 7pm

Declan Devine says his Bohemians players have to take Friday’s Dublin derby defeat on the chin as they try to get back to winning ways away to his hometown club Derry City tonight.

Bohs started brightly against Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount, creating goal-scoring opportunities in a lively opening 25-minute period.

But they conceded at one of the worst possible times – a minute before half-time – and struggled in the second half as Rovers added another to win 2-0.

Tonight’s opponents’ defeat to Drogheda United kept Bohs top of the table on Friday night but they face a tough task remaining there at the Ryan McBride Stadium tonight.

Devine said: “The boys have come to difficult venues, played in difficult circumstances at times and up to now have been superb.

“We have to take Friday’s result on the chin and go to Derry and do all we can to get a result.

“We have players hurting but there is a long way to go.

“There are a lot of other clubs that would like to be sitting where we are in terms of points return from the opening lump of games.

“Whether the result on Friday was a win, lose or draw, you have to put that behind you and get ready for the next one. That’s what we have done.

“We have good lads and good players. But we have to strive to get better to make sure that in the real tight games, we defend better than we did on Friday.

“We are not very happy with certain aspects of the game but we have to learn.

“A lot of players were playing in their first Dublin derby and we have got to understand that these are things we have to make sure we can rectify as the season goes on. These are fine margins in games.

“When we are on top in the opening period, where the crowd is right behind us, if we can take one of those chances and put it in the back of the net, that gives us the lift we need at that time.

“We have to psychologically learn from the goal we conceded. You take your 1-0 and make sure you don’t concede a second.

“I just think it was one that we nearly felt a wee bit sorry for ourselves because we had been on top so much for the opening period.

“We have to learn that these things happen in the game and we have to understand you dust yourself down and be ready for the next game.

“We are just trying to make sure we get better week in, week out.”


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday April 7 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Live on Virgin Media 2

Declan Devine takes charge of his first Dublin derby against Shamrock Rovers as Bohemians manager this evening and says there is more to come from his side.

With six wins from their opening seven games, Bohs sit on top of the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division table. Devine is not getting carried away, but is relishing tonight’s game.

He said: “We can’t wait. I have been fortunate to be in the game for a long time and these are the kind of games you want to be involved in.

“I’ve been involved with games against PSG, Gothenburg, Celtic and Rangers, but a Dublin derby, being involved with Bohemians and getting to know the club and its people over the past few months, is something I am really looking forward to and the players are looking forward to.

“It’s another game, nothing will be decided other than three points. But we want a performance that represents this football club and everyone involved in it.

“We have had a positive start, and it still galls me that we have lost one, albeit with 10 men. We need to continue to grow and improve, and the players can take huge belief from their performances so far, never mind results.

“If we continue that level of performance, work ethic and desire, along with the togetherness of the fans behind us, then there is no reason why we cannot continue to push on.

“Nothing surprises me with these players because I’ve seen it from day dot. I thought our recruitment was spot on. We brought in players with good experience, but also with a real technical ability.

“There were also very good players already here. You look at Jonathan Afolabi, look at Ali Coote. Ali, for me, has been the best player in the league over the course of the last six or seven weeks.

“We treat each game the same and we do our homework on opposition exactly the same.

“But we are not naive. This game is different. We have told the players and shown them clips of previous games so they know what to expect in terms of atmosphere and intensity.

“The players are well versed. They are used to playing in front of sell-out crowds at Dalymount, so that is a huge plus going into this game too.

“But I expect the game to be 100 miles an hour, for it to be intense, but that is how we want to approach every game.

“We know we are up against a tough opponent but that is fine, we have played other tough opponents already too. We just have to make sure we take care of our own mentality and our own tactics when we take to the pitch.”
Bohs come into tonight’s game after a hard-fought win away to Sligo Rovers last Saturday.

Devine added: “Sligo are a good side. Rovers and Pat’s have gone to Sligo and haven’t won. The pitch wasn’t great and didn’t allow us to play the way we wanted to play.

“But I thought we grew into the game really well. Our ability to defend and do the ugly bits well gave us a platform to go and win the game with a late goal.

“It is very pleasing that for such a new group, that they didn’t allow their heads to drop. We enjoyed the win. You have got to enjoy every win. But we are not getting carried away.

“I looked towards the end of the game at the fans, singing the Auld Triangle, and it was passionate. You want that passion, you need that passion.

“We want that togetherness and when our fans are enjoying it, we want to enjoy it with them, because there will be days when it’s tough so when the fans really get behind you like they did once again in Sligo, you want to recognise that. We all have a role to play in trying to achieve success.”


Keith Buckley (calf) and Jordan Flores (quad) are doubts.


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Saturday April 1 2023, The Showgrounds, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says his Bohemians players have spent the international break working hard together to build on their impressive start to the season.

Five wins from six saw Bohs top the table going into this weekend’s series of games but Devine believes they will have to be at their very best to beat Sligo Rovers in the Showgrounds.

He said: “We want more, and we want to get better. We are just six games into a long season but the response from the players, staff and everyone has been very pleasing.

“The break has been important for us for a number of reasons.

“It allowed us to get a couple of the lads back, and we hadn’t previously had much time to work on certain aspects of our defending because some of the players we brought in came to the club so late in the transfer window.

“But we have had time now over the past couple of weeks to work on that side of things. Attacking-wise, we have been very good, and now we want to pull it all together.

“The break allowed those lads who came to the club late in the window opportunities to get away for a couple of days too; head home, see their families and parents, and have a bit more preparation in terms of moving here and settling in properly.

“But after those couple of days off, we were all back at it full pelt. We have been in everyday, players have had double sessions, and they have been enjoying working with each other on the training pitch.

“It was important, after a busy start to the season, that we had 10/11 days to really work with the players. Hopefully we will see the benefits of that now.

“There is a serious fight for positions, there is a real energy about the place, and we will need that as games are coming thick and fast.

“We have great flexibility within the group and we have players who haven’t had much playing time but that will change when you look at the schedule coming up.

“But our sole focus now is going to Sligo and trying to win at a very difficult venue.”

Although the season is only in its infancy, Bohs have already enjoyed a couple of enjoyable performances away from home this year.

Devine said: “We have been good on the road so far – going to difficult venues like Turner’s Cross and Richmond Park and winning, and were unfortunate in Tolka Park when we were down to 10 men.

“But this is another huge test for us going to the Showgrounds in front of a full house on a Saturday night.

“It is a game that every single person at the club is looking forward to – the games cannot come quick enough for us, and we have to embrace them.

“Sligo have good players. John Russell has them playing a completely different brand of football to what they had been playing.

“They have been formidable at home. They beat St Pat’s with 10 men, scored a last-minute equaliser against Shamrock Rovers, and went to the Brandwell and drew.

“They have been performing really well in big games so we know that it is a really difficult fixture where we will have to be at our very best.”

Bohs come into the game on the back of a 2-1 win against UCD a fortnight ago. A difficult first half saw Bohs go in at the break a goal down having had a perfectly good goal from Johnny Afolabi ruled out, while Ali Coote missed a penalty.

While heads were bowed coming off the pitch, the players responded to the great encouragement they received from the Dalymount faithful as second half goals from Paddy Kirk and man-of-the-match Coote saw Bohs claim all three points to remain top of the table.

Devine said: “There were a lot of positives to take from the game. We suffered a lot of setbacks in the first half – a goal disallowed, missing a penalty and going a goal behind – but we showed great resilience in how we went out and attacked the second half.

“We have good footballers and good characters who work hard on a daily basis, so it was pleasing to get the next goal and to build on that very quickly to get the second.

“But we have to learn from the game too – we want to put teams to bed. We do not want to be holding on in the last five/six minutes of games.

“The most pleasing thing was fans and players staying together as a group to get the three points.

“Coming off at half-time, the players were a bit flat but the fans were magic and gave them an enormous lift.

“Our fans have been absolutely brilliant and our players have responded. They have given them something to enjoy so far and long may it continue.

“We need energy in the stands and we need energy on the pitch.

“There are going to be times in games when things aren’t going so well. Like times against UCD, like times against Drogheda, like times against Cork; our fans were needed to get us across the line.

“No doubt on Saturday there will be times where we will be under pressure and that is where we need our fans the most.

“It was the same at the first game of the season down in Cork. We were under serious pressure in the last 10/15 minutes and I looked around to the crowd and they got going again for us.

“You need that in those difficult moments even more than when you are on top. That is what we have had so far this year – the reaction between the fans and players.

“We all get our rewards then when we score goals, and you can see how much it means then from the reaction of the players running to celebrate with our fans.”


Bohemians have a full squad to choose from.

Preview: Bohemians v UCD

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday March 17 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says there can be no let-up in Bohemians’ work ethic and positive approach to games if they are to continue their impressive start to the season.

With four wins from five, Bohs currently top the table and host UCD at Dalymount Park on St Patrick’s Day.

Devine said: “We want to finish off before the international break with another good performance.

“We have done a lot of work on UCD this week. Nobody at the club underestimates them. You only have to go back to the opening day of the season when they went away to an expectant Dundalk and came away with a draw.

“They gave Sligo one hell of a game at the Bowl too so we are under no illusions that we have to be at our very best in every game we play.

“History tells us that on their day UCD are capable of beating anyone in this league and if we show any disrespect to anybody we will end up with egg on our face.”
Devine hopes to see another packed crowd at Dalymount Park. The Jodi Stand is long sold out but some tickets remain for the Des Kelly Stand and Mono Stand from

Devine said: “I have asked a lot of our fans over the start of the season so far.

“It’s St Patrick’s Day and a day for celebration but we want to get three points and to do that we need our fans with us again too.

“The fact that the Mono Stand is open for Bohs fans for the first time, it would be great to have as many Bohs in there as possible and have the three sides of the ground behind us from the off.”

Bohs’ most recent league victory saw them dominate St Patrick’s Athletic and come away from Inchicore with a 2-0 victory last Friday thanks to goals from Johnny Afolabi and Dean Williams.

Devine said: “The most pleasing aspect for me is that we have been going to difficult venues and putting on performances, not just holding out.

“The players probably didn’t get the credit they deserve for going down to Cork on the first day of the season when you see some of the results Cork have picked up since.

“St Pat’s were unbeaten at home so for us to go there and be quite dominant in the game was a testament to the players and their courage in a hostile atmosphere.

“It is just three points though and we have to make sure we match that now again on Friday. We have been very positive but we are only starting and we have to continue to strive to get better.

“When we have the ball we have got to be creative because we have very good creative players but we also have very good work ethic and a real desire to get the ball back.

“Johnny’s goal last Friday, for example, comes from Adam McDonnell chasing a lost cause a few seconds before Ali Coote picks the ball up. Chasing those lost causes is crucial in our league. We can never give up and we can never stop working.”

Afolabi and Williams notched their first league goals for the club, and Devine was delighted to see his frontmen rewarded for their efforts.

He said: “The only person putting pressure on Johnny was Johnny himself but his overall play all season has been sensational. He is making really good, firmly established defenders look under pressure, which is a testament to him and to the supply he is getting too.

“Dean is a fantastic finisher. He hasn’t started so far but his time will come. He is such a well-liked member of the group – when he went into the dressing room afterwards everybody was singing his name.

“For Dean’s goal, the goalkeeper made an error but made it because we put him under pressure, which is fantastic. Our right-back Grant Horton is chasing the goalkeeper down in the 92nd minute, which is a bit unheard of.

“Likewise for Afolabi’s header, our right-back was right behind him if he missed it to tuck it away.

“Another pleasing aspect is our front five have all scored. Johnny, Dean, James Akintunde, Declan McDaid and Ali.

“We have chipped in with goals from Grant from a set-piece, and Jordan Flores now has three, so I believe we have goals right through our team.
“I was also delighted for our back four and James Talbot for keeping a clean sheet. James pulled off a brilliant save last week, which could have been a turning point in the game, and our defence is getting a bit more settled, which is really pleasing.

“Another important aspect is that everyone is getting on. You have people like Keith Buckley, James Talbot, Paddy Kirk, Jordan, with all their experiences, pulling the group really tightly together.”

That includes James McManus, who celebrated his 18th birthday after training today and was presented with a birthday cake by skipper Bucko.

Devine said: “James is a fantastic young lad.

“I am delighted to see him called up for the Ireland U19s this week, and I think it is only a matter of time before he is called up for the U21s – I have no doubt about that.

“He is turning a lot of heads as I knew he would but, at the same time, there is no pressure on the boy. We have serious competition for places in the middle of the park.

“Every player and member of staff loves working with James on a daily basis. He is so grounded. He is just a class act and is very brave in his approach to games.”
With games coming thick and fast, a completely changed Bohs XI laboured to a 1-0 extra-time Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final victory against Crumlin United on Monday, with John O’Sullivan scoring the winning goal.

But there were more positives to take with U19s players Derwin Adewale, Alex O’Brien, Chris Lotefa and Luca Cailloce all handed first-team starts.

Devine added: “I was very impressed with the young players who came up from the academy, and were probably our best players on the day.

“We want to win every game so the positive is we won and are through to the semi-finals.John O’Sullivan got minutes and scored, Jay Benn got minutes, Dylan Connolly got minutes while suspended in the league, while Luke Dennison and Drew Baker made their debuts.
“All of that is important as we will need our entire squad sharp this season.”


Captain Keith Buckley (calf) is a doubt while Dylan Connolly serves the last of his three-game ban following his sending-off against Shelbourne.

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