BOHEMIANS v BRAY WANDERERS (Friday October 18th, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm)

Bohemians host Bray Wanderers on Friday, knowing a point will make them safe in the Premier Division.

But Bray, who have been in similar situations before, have shown they can still make things uncomfortable for Bohemians.

“We have been hammering it home to the lads: it’s not done and dusted,” said Bohemian manager Bobby Browne. “We have lots of points on board from playing well but we still need another point.


“It’s going to be a battle, a dog-fight. There might not be much football in it but we have to roll up our sleeves and dig out a result.”

When he joined the club a month ago Browne saw the intensive, high-tempo training, the strong morale and the professional approach, and recalls telling assistant Owen Heary: “This is not a relegation team”.

Browne’s experience since then has confirmed his view of the team’s potential not just to survive in the Premier Division but to progress further next year.

He has also been working with the under-19s and they are recovering from a rough patch. There are some players in that group, Browne believes, who could step up to the senior squad next year.

“We have been concentrating on survival in the league. It was our clear priority to make sure Bohs were in the Premier Division next year. As soon as that is secure, we need to sit down with the players and plan ahead.”

Bohemians may go into Friday’s game without ex-Bray player, Dave Mulcahy. The 35-year-old has been a rock at the centre of midfield and an example to the younger players through his work-rate. He took a knock to the ankle in last weekend’s match against Dundalk and is unlikely to be fit for selection.

This may mean Darragh Reynor plays in the centre as Shane Murray, who injured his knee against Limerick, has returned to training but may not make the match-day squad.

Defender Anto Murphy (ulcer) remains out but his replacement, Neil Yadolahi, topped up his effective performance of defensive duties with a stoppage-time equaliser against Dundalk.

“Neil has plenty of confidence and scoring the goal is great for him too. He has also been doing the basic things well and he hasn’t looked out of place,” said Browne.

The late equaliser was just reward, he added. “Our first-half performance was maybe the worst since I came in. We were sitting off them. But the pleasing thing was that we stayed in the game even though we weren’t playing well. We got ourselves together and dug out a result.

“It showed good character and good fighting spirit. Psychologically, it was a massive point for us.”

If Bohemians’ survival is assured late in Friday’s game, Owen Heary may appear in one last competitive game at Dalymount Park as a Bohemian player. Browne believes he deserves much credit for Bohs’ recovery.

“I came into a set-up that was very much Owen’s team and I told him I was not going to change it up, especially as it wasn’t broken,” said Browne. “Hopefully we can finish it off on Friday and Owen will be rewarded.”

Bohs’ recovery began three months ago at the Carlisle Grounds when Bohs ended a losing run with a 3-1 defeat of Friday’s opponents in Heary’s first match as caretaker manager.

Heary and many current and former associates will return next month to Dalymount to celebrate his illustrious 20-year playing career in an Owen Heary Tribute Match (Sunday 17 November, 3pm).


BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK (Dalymount Park, Saturday October 12th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians face Dundalk on a weekend that could settle the battle for survival in the Premier Division.

Following Shelbourne’s defeat on Thursday, Bohemians no longer face possible automatic relegation. If their result on Saturday equals or betters Bray’s on Sunday they avoid having to play-off.

For assistant manager Owen Heary, confirmation of his team’s position in the top flight would represent a notable success. “Maybe there should be stay-up medals,” he joked.


“When we went to the bottom of the table and we were playing Rovers, Pat’s and Sligo, people said we wouldn’t get a point from those games. But we got four points from nine. That gave the players the belief they needed.”

Saturday’s match will test their mettle once again. “Dundalk are a tough team and, after what’s happened in the past week, they’ll want to get a good result,” said Heary.

“People say they have over-achieved but I don’t think they have. They have a good manager, and good players and they have lads who have won medals or played over in England or Scotland, and with experience. But our players know that a win on Saturday will ensure we stay up.”

Dundalk have provided stiff opposition this season, winning both league games against Bohemians and keeping a clean sheet home and away.

Already, Heary is looking to what this squad can do next season if it can be kept together. With the addition of “a couple more experienced players and a couple more in certain positions”, Bohemians could next year be “fighting at the better end of the table, for European places”, Heary believes. “We need to let lads know they’re wanted and do our business early,” he added.

The contribution of the re-signed Anto Murphy – along with those of Delany, Pender, Mulcahy and four-season ‘veteran’ Ryan McEvoy – has shown the value of mixing experience with youth.

But Bohemians must prepare for Friday without Murphy. Having recovered from a hamstring injury, he is being treated for an ulcer.

Heary is pleased with how Neil Yadolahi has stepped up to take Murphy’s place. “He was thrown in at the deep end and he has done very well. He was unlucky in Limerick, when he had a good header and the keeper pulled off a great save.”

Shane Murray’s knee injury from last week’s match against Limerick has turned out not to be as serious as first thought but he remains out for Friday. However, Stephen Traynor, who missed the Limerick game with a quad injury, is back.


LIMERICK v BOHEMIANS (Monday September 30th, Thomond Park, 7.45pm)

Bohemians face Limerick FC tonight (Thomond Park, 7.45pm) with Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Stephen Traynor (quad) out injured.

Assistant manager Owen Heary saluted his players’ performance on Friday and said: “We’re going down there to get a result. The lads are full of confidence.”


BOHEMIANS v DERRY CITY (Dalymount Park, Friday September 27th, 7.45pm)

Bohemians “have nothing to fear” as they face “two hard-working, decent sides” in three days, according to assistant manager Owen Heary.

Bohs face Derry City at home on Friday determined to secure points and to build on last weekend’s win over Shelbourne.

“The lads have been on a high all week. But they know that the result last week is not good enough if we don’t get something from this weekend,” said Heary.


“Last week we played very well and got our just reward. But this weekend is even bigger, because if we match the results of the clubs around us, or even better them, it would take us out of the bottom three.

“If we win the two games, effectively we’re safe. I don’t want to be waiting until the last two games. I’d like to put this issue to bed this weekend.”

Bohemians are approaching these games with confidence. “When we can go to Pat’s and get a draw, why wouldn’t we be confident?” Heary asks.

“We expect to win every game we approach. The players are starting to enjoy their football. They have been working hard for a long time, but now they really have the bit between their teeth, knowing they’re a good team.”

Derry have proven a hard nut to crack for Bohs this season. In three matches in two competitions Bohemians are still without a win. But Derry’s form since the sides last met in the league, with three wins and six defeats, has been marginally poorer than Bohemians’, with three wins, two draws and five defeats.

Bohemian manager Bobby Browne and assistant Heary have been working with a full squad, and competition for places right through the line-up.

Stephen Traynor’s performances since coming on as a sub against St Patrick’s Athletic four weeks ago demonstrate the effect of this competition. Starting since then against Sligo and Shels, Traynor has contributed strongly to the more numerous goal-scoring opportunities.

“He got his chance when he came on against Pat’s and, in fairness to him, he has grabbed that chance. Bucko [Keith Buckley] is the same. He came on against Pat’s and did exceptionally well,” said Heary.

“There are other players there, who are maybe not getting on to the bench and they’re disappointed. But they’re not letting it get to them. They’re pushing the team on and waiting for their chance, and it might come sooner than they think.”

For Friday, defender Anto Murphy faces a late fitness test with a hamstring strain, with Neil Yadolahi or Daniel Byrne available to replace him. Murphy has been a linchpin of Bohemians’ improved defence and the assistant manager would prefer to give him the additional days to recover rather than risk aggravating the injury by playing him too soon.

Limerick, like Derry, have proven to be stern opposition for Bohemians this season, though Heary considers his team was particularly unlucky against them. “Down there [last April], we were 1-0 up with a half-hour to go and two free kicks cost us the game. We played very well against them up here [in July] and then they hit a long ball, get a good touch on it, and they score,” he said.

“Limerick are a hard-working team, they have a good squad, with good attackers and Stuart [Taylor] has done a great job there. But they may be a bit tired with three games in six days. We’ll go down full of confidence.”


SHELBOURNE v BOHEMIANS (Tolka Park, Friday September 20th, 8pm)

Bohemians meet nearest-neighbours Shelbourne in a match that could have a big bearing on both clubs’ efforts to avoid relegation.

But Bohemian assistant manager Owen Heary is keen to play down notions that Friday’s game is the ultimate decider.

“There are still 18 points to play for. This is a big game but it’s no different from the games of last week, the week before or next week,” he said. “It’s not the be-all and end-all for either team, win, lose or draw. But we’ll certainly be closer to our goal of staying up if we win.”


Heary sees it as his responsibility to keep his players “doing what they have done for the last few weeks” when the team kept their composure in big games and performed well.

He expects Shelbourne to come to Friday’s match very determined to recover the winning form of July and to put last week’s cup defeat against Dundalk behind them. “You can’t read too much into that cup result. They have good players and a good manager. We’re expecting them to be looking to bounce back,” said Heary.

Bohemians have found many positives to take from their loss two weeks ago to Sligo Rovers when they created as many scoring opportunities as in any game this season and earned the praise of Sligo’s management team.

The fans also saluted Bohemians’ efforts that night and Heary expects the fans to be a big factor in Friday’s clash with Shelbourne.

“The relationship between the clubs is friendly rivalry, with a good deal of banter, and no aggression,” he said. “If our fans do as they did in Inchicore and in Tallaght and really get behind the lads they can give them a lift. There is no better feeling for a player than when the fans are roaring you on. That can help you produce that extra couple of per cent.”

Heary has strong affiliations still with Shelbourne, where he played for nine years before joining Bohemians. “I am very fond of the people there, who work very hard behind the scenes. I’d be gutted if either club went down. This is not being disrespectful to any other club but this league definitely needs both Bohs and Shels.”

Heary’s illustrious spell at Shelbourne might not have happened if Bohemians had moved more quickly to sign him 16 years ago. He was “always a Bohs man” but had committed to Shels by the time his preferred club made an offer.

The honours are even between the sides in this year’s league encounters: Bohemians won in Tolka Park in April but lost at home in June.

For Friday Bohemians have a full squad to choose from. The two-week break since the last league match has helped some players with “niggling injuries” to recover fully. The most recent signing Neil Yadolahi has trained to full match fitness and is available for selection.

Bohemians go into the last six games of the season with a new management team. Bobby Browne has joined the club as first-team manager on a short-term arrangement. Browne managed Monaghan United and Drogheda United in the past, and most recently was with Drumcondra FC.

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