Friday April 4, SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians will be testing the full depth of their squad as they begin a series of three games in eight days with a home match against Bray Wanderers, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Bohs made five changes for last weekend’s trip to Dundalk and are likely to make more changes for each of the next three matches.


Having reviewed the performance of their more defensive line-up in Oriel Park, Bohemians consider they gained “a good point and probably a deserved point”, according to assistant manager Graham O’Hanlon. “Dundalk are a very good team with very good movement. But we did create chances on the night.”

The performance and result also showed that Bohemians have depth in the squad, as those who came in acquitted themselves well, O’Hanlon added.

He has deputised for manager Owen Heary in his absence on a Switzerland-based module of his Pro Licence course. But Heary will be back in the dug-out for Friday’s game.

O’Hanlon insists Bohemians will not take Bray or any other team lightly. “Bray are a dangerous team and can cause us problems. They have good players up-front. Again, we need look at our system, and look at our players and make sure we are well set-up defensively,” he said.

“The lads are under no illusion: this is going to be a very tough game, and it’s a very important game as we go into an important period of the season, when we need absolutely to pick up as many points as possible.”

The 5-1 victory over Bray six weeks ago in the Leinster Senior Cup is not an accurate reflection of the two teams’ status, O’Hanlon added. “Alan [Mathews] and Barry [O’Connor] were just settling in and putting their stamp on the team. And since then Bray have beaten Sligo 1-0. That just shows you what they are capable of.”

Former Bray warrior Jason Byrne may well start against his old club, having been out of the starting line-up in the league up to last weekend. “He did excellently against Dundalk. He’s been unlucky not to be starting but it was Dinny[Corcoran]’s good form that kept him out. Over these next three games I fully expect to see Jason playing his part,” said O’Hanlon.

The competition for places has heated up elsewhere, as Daniel Byrne worked effectively to “snuff out danger” playing in front of the back four and Darragh Reynor applied his experience, strength and dead-ball skills, coming in for Jack Memery.

“Jack may benefit from a little time away. He’ll come back stronger from that because he is a good player,” noted O’Hanlon.

Keith Buckley returned to the starting line-up against Dundalk to put in his usual energetic and combative performance. “He never lets his player settle on the ball and he sets the bar for others in work-rate, as he goes around closing people down.”

Dave Mulcahy (knee) came into the season carrying an injury but he has returned to light training. He is not expected to be ready for Friday but may well feature in one or both of next week’s matches. Andy Mulligan has returned from quad injury to full training, but Anto Murphy (hamstring) remains out.

Bohemians may have all but one of their squad available for selection next week and Mulcahy will be especially welcomed back, according to O’Hanlon. “He is a key player for us. He sets the benchmark for others on the pitch and he’s very good in the dressing-room too. We want him back as quickly as possible.”

“Small individual battles cost us”

Friday March 28, SSE Airtricity League, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians go to Dundalk determined to defend more effectively than in their last two league games, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Seeing his team concede five goals in two home matches, manager Owen Heary may make some team changes aimed at tightening the defence.

“Playing at home we take the game to teams and we may leave ourselves a bit open. Playing away, we have to set ourselves up in a way that we don’t get done, and can still be an attacking threat,” he said.


Goals scored by Shamrock Rovers last weekend came from missed tackles or losing possession in midfield. “It was small individual battles that cost us the game and they may have come from inexperience.

“One thing you can’t give players is determination or will. They have to have that themselves. There were a few incidents in the game where we lost a tackle and ended up conceding a goal.

“We were also able to show the players that when we won the tackle what the difference was. Our goal was probably the best of the game. It came originally from Roberto [Lopes] winning the ball in a tackle.

“The good thing about it is we’re creating chances and we did it against one of the teams that’s going for the title. Overall, I thought there wasn’t a big gap between the two teams, despite the scoreline.”

Heary still has to plan without Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Dave Mulcahy (calf) who have proven ability to help control the midfield and defence.

Murphy’s injury has proven more serious than was thought at first and he may be out for a further three weeks. But Mulcahy, who has had a knee and a calf injury in quick succession, may be just a week from returning.

The presence of players like these can have a crucial effect on how the team plays. “It’s how they lead by example and how they talk to people. The midfield is crucial and if you have someone there who can see the danger before it happens it makes a big difference. Maybe last week we were just lacking that bit of experience.”

But Heary wants to ensure his players do not focus too much on whether a certain player is available or not, and he wants to encourage younger players to show leadership.

Craig Walsh (22) has demonstrated that ability. “He has a great engine. He’s up and down, working very hard,” said Heary. “The lads can’t go into games thinking, ‘We’re missing such a player, or such a player’. They have to think, ‘OK, let’s go and win the game without them’.”

Dundalk represent formidable opposition, Heary notes, with a squad that is relatively settled over a couple of seasons and “hard to find weaknesses in”. Though they lost heavily in the opening league game of the season, they have beaten Sligo away and defeated Shamrock Rovers in the Setanta Sports Cup.

Heary notes this inconsistency is widespread. “Everybody has already lost at least one game in the league, and that may be down to worrying too much about getting points.” But the Bohemian manager also expects some teams to start putting winning sequences together and his team may well have that opportunity after this weekend when they play Bray, Athlone and Limerick over eight days.

Apart from injuries to Murphy and Mulcahy, Bohemians also have Andy Mulligan (quad) out, though he has returned to light training.


Friday March 21, SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemian manager Owen Heary reckons there is ‘no bigger game’ than this Friday’s Dublin derby between his Gypsies and rivals Shamrock Rovers, writes KEVIN FAGAN.

Although both teams go into this clash with identical records from their first two SSE Airtricity League games (4 points each, 5 goals scored, 2 conceded), Heary believes form plays no part in these intense affairs.

“Form goes out the window, it’s all about who adapts well to the game. Big Dublin derbies against your biggest rivals – there’s no bigger game for us. It’ll be a challenge, but it’s one that the players are looking forward to.”

Bohs are on a wonderful run of results against their rivals from Tallaght – March 2012 was the last time the Hoops came out on top.


Since then, Bohs have won three and drawn two of the last five league games between the two great clubs. Heary doesn’t necessarily believe that run has to end this week.

“I know some people have been saying ‘we haven’t lost to them in a while, we’re due to be beaten by them’, but I don’t understand that – why are we due to be beaten? We’ll push for the three points – we’ve done that in every game so far and tomorrow will be no different.”

Although the teams know each other well, Heary has made sure his players are well informed about Trevor Croly’s new-look team. “We don’t leave anything to chance, we try to give the players as much information as we can about how they play. The thing about Rovers is they have a wide selection of players. If you take their B team into account, they have up to 40 players to choose from, so it’ll be difficult.”

The atmosphere in the lead up to a Bohs-Rovers clash – and especially on the night – is unrivalled in League of Ireland football. Heary says his players are well aware of the importance of the game to the fans and hopes that can be to Bohs’ advantage. “There’s more expectation – the players know that. When they sign here, they know that these are the games that the fans love.

“With us and Rovers, that intensity is always there – no matter where either team is in the table – whether we’re fighting for leagues, cups or anything. I don’t think tomorrow will be any different. Hopefully we can adapt to that and get a result.”

The Bohs boss has been impressed with the attacking threat posed by his side – who have scored 13 goals in their four competitive games to date. “This year we’ve had the lads from pre-season, and we’ve worked a lot on their confidence – we wanted them to go out and express themselves. You can see that now with Dinny (Corcoran) whose confidence is high, Jay Byrne is chipping in, Paddy Kavanagh, Steven Beattie. We’ve plenty of attacking options and I think that gives the team that little bit of momentum.”

Captain Dave Mulcahy (knee) looks certain to miss out alongside Andy Mulligan (quad), and Lee Whelan (ankle). Anto Murphy is (hamstring) is still doubtful, while Karl Moore is available again following a groin injury.

Pic: Owen Heary and assistant Graham O’Hanlon (Eddie Lennon).


Friday March 14, SSE Airtricity League, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians go into their first home match of the league season in a strongly positive frame of mind, according to manager Owen Heary. Three matches in three competitions have shown Bohemians’ ability to score goals (11 in all), their mean defence, and their strength in depth, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Heary has played all but two of the squad and demonstrated convincingly that he has cover for all positions. But he retains a firm view of his best XI – injuries and suspensions permitting.


“I suppose you might say we have a selection headache, but on the plus side we know that any player we choose is well capable of doing the same thing we’re doing, week-in and week-out,” he said.

Friday’s game brings together two teams with 100 per cent records in competitive football in 2014, and two managers who are at early stages in their careers. Heary and his Drogheda counterpart Robbie Horgan are classmates on the current FAI Pro Licence course.

“There’ll be bragging rights to play for,” commented Heary, who underlined his respect for what Horgan has achieved so far with victories over Dundalk in the Louth Cup and in the league.

“The two lads up front, Gary O’Neill and Fabio O’Brien, are a big threat,” said Heary, adding his admiration for O’Neill on his recovery from serious illness. “He’s a positive fellow and that stood to him.”

Heary is hoping Friday’s opponents might be “a bit leggy”, having played 120 minutes in the EA Sports Cup against Crumlin United on Monday. “But they’re a well-organised side and they have a big back four. We know it’s going to be a physical game,” he said.

The Bohemian manager insists that his team’s approach to Friday’s game will be similar to that adopted against Bray and UCD. “We don’t want the players going into this thinking at all negatively. We want them to be just as positive as against Bray and UCD,” he said.

“It’s our first home game and we want to give a good account of ourselves and get the crowd behind us. If the performance matches what we’ve done over the last couple of weeks, the people will keep coming and they’ll enjoy the matches.

“Drogheda winning last week is a good incentive to us to go at them, and take the game to them. We’ve shown we can limit our opponents’ scoring chances, and we are creating chances ourselves. We’re getting into the box, we’re getting crosses in, we’re getting goals and we aim to continue that.”

Jason Byrne came off the bench last Friday and scored within minutes for his second late goal in two games. He started Monday’s game and again scored, making it three goals in three games. According to his manager, he is “still getting his fitness levels up and getting his touch in, but he is a lot fitter than last year and the hunger’s still there”.

Defender Anto Murphy (hamstring) has returned to training but will not be ready for selection. Karl Moore (groin), Andy Mulligan (quad) and Lee Whelan (ankle) are out, while captain Dave Mulcahy (knee) faces a late fitness test.


Monday March 10, EA Sports Cup, Belfield Bowl, 7.45pm

Owen Heary believes he could make as many as ‘eight or nine change’ for tonight’s rematch against UCD in the EA Sports Cup without it affecting the quality and determination of his team, writes LUKE O’RIORDAN.

When these sides met in the league at the same venue on Friday night, Bohemians hit the woodwork twice in the first half before cruising to an impressive 3-0 victory with goals from Paddy Kavanagh, Dinny Corcoran and Jason Byrne.

Friday’s starting XI had just one change to the side that swept aside Bray Wanderers 5-1 in the Leinster Senior Cup eight days earlier, with a quad injury seeing Andy Mulligan make way for Karl Moore. Mulligan remains unavailable tonight, while Anto Murphy is still struggling with a hamstring injury.


But Heary has hinted that he could ring the changes and give others a chance to stake their claim ahead of Friday’s home league clash against Drogheda United, saying: “We’ve a talented squad here this season. I could make eight or nine changes and no matter who we bring in, they’ll be good enough and will give it their all for the jersey.”

After such a comprehensive victory against the Students just three days ago, the Gypsies could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas tonight. But Heary doesn’t anticipate any such issue and said: “There won’t be any problem with motivation.

“The lads don’t need me to fire them up for a game like this – it’s a cup game, they all know they have to win it if they want to get closer to winning some silverware.”

The confident attacking style of play and quality of the goals scored on Friday earned his side great plaudits, but Heary is quick to praise the performances further back the pitch.

He said: “The goals were fantastic. Paddy’s was a cracker, Dinny’s was too and Jay’s only on the pitch a few minutes before getting on the scoresheet. But one of the most pleasing aspects for me was the clean sheet. The whole back five were fantastic.

“We were unlucky not to keep a clean sheet against Bray too. But for a penalty, we would have. We have to be strong at the back, so I’m delighted with how they’ve done so far.”

Pic: Jack Memery, Dave Mulcahy and Roberto Lopes keep their eyes on the ball (Eddie Lennon,

Website by Simon Alcock