“We know them, they know us. So the knowledge probably cancels each other out.”

Dublin City Sportsfest 2019 Launch

BOHEMIANS v SHELBOURNE
Extra.ie FAI Cup, Friday August 8 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm
Match sponsor: AW Ennis.
Matchball sponsor: Celtic Whiskey Shop and Wines on the Green

It has been six years since Dublin’s oldest rivals faced each other in a game of note.

But despite that void, there will be many faces familiar to Dalymount Park lining out for Shelbourne tonight.

A far cry from the ding-dong title-deciding derbies of the noughties, Bohemians and Shels last faced off in a game that really mattered in 2013 when both were fighting relegation.

Shels’ 3-0 win at Dalymount in June of that year was the beginning of the end for then Bohs boss Aaron Callaghan.

That result was reversed three months later when the Gypsies, then under the guidance of Owen Heary, made amends at Tolka Park.

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Bohs fans in Tolka Park in 2013. Pic: Paul Reynolds

Bohs fans in Tolka Park in 2013. Pic: Paul Reynolds

Bohs went on to beat the drop, while Heary’s former side slid out of the division once more. Both clubs were at a low ebb at the time with multi-million debts and uncertain futures.

But with those debts largely cleared now and with a groundshare at a redeveloped Dalymount on the horizon, there is renewed belief and optimism in both camps.

Bohs, under the dedicated stewardship of Keith Long, are pushing for a place in Europe, while Shels, in former Gypsy Ian Morris’ first season in management, are on course to win promotion back to the Premier Division.

There have been insignificant meetings in the EA Sports and Leinster Senior cups in the intervening years, but tonight sees Dublin’s oldest derby elevated to top billing once more.

Bohs had the bragging rights the last time the sides met in this competition – Paddy Madden scoring the only goal of the game at Dalymount Park in 2010.

But Shels had the more significant victory a decade earlier in 2000, with Pat Fenlon – a Bohs cup winner as a player in 1992 and as a manager in 2008 – scoring the winner in Dalymount Park the last time a cup final replay was used to determine the winners of the competition.

Bohs vice-captain Keith Buckley is a veteran of those relegation six-pointers in 2013 and so too are some of the players likely to line out for Shels tonight – albeit they donned the red and black of Bohs six years ago.

Dean Delany, Dan Byrne, Luke Byrne and Karl Moore all played their part in keeping Bohs in the top flight that season.

But tonight they and a total of nine ex-Bohs men in the Shels first-team squad – Colin McCabe, Lorcan Fitzgerald, John Ross Wilson, Derek Prendergast and Oscar Brennan being the others – will come to Dalymount with a point to prove against their former employers.

Throw in the fact Shels manager Morris and his assistant Jason McGuinness are also formerly of this parish, you could field an entire Shels XI made up of former Bohemians.

Bar his one season with Bray Wanderers in 2017, Bucko has been with Bohs since 2010 and has played alongside most of them during that time.

He said: “There are a lot of familiar faces. More than half their squad have been with us at some point.

“We know them, they know us. So the knowledge probably cancels each other out. There’s no advantage there for either side.

“I haven’t been talking to any of them, even lads I’d be close to like Luke Byrne. Once the draw was made you want to focus on the game, you don’t want distractions.

“But I know both sets of fans were delighted to draw each other, it has the makings of a good cup tie.

“It should be a great atmosphere. It’s been a long time since the clubs played each other in a big game like this so hopefully the place is hopping.

“Going back through the years when I was growing up, Bohs v Shels was a huge fixture but it’s been a long time since it was this big.

“It’s a one-off game. They’ve a lot of ex-Bohs lads who might feel they have a point to prove so we have to be at our best.

“And it’s not just that. They’re a good side too. They’ve players who have won leagues and cups, the likes of Ciaran Kilduff, Conan Byrne and Lorcan, so we expect a tough game.”

Shels come into the game five points clear at the top of the First Division. Confidence will be high, despite stuttering with a 1-0 defeat away to Cobh Ramblers last week.

But Bohs have faltered themselves. Having occupied third spot for 15 weeks, they were leapfrogged by Derry City having come undone away to Finn Harps last Friday.

Manager Long described the defeat as ‘not good enough’ and Buckley, who missed the game with a hamstring injury, agrees.

He said: “We’ve had a bad result ourselves so we have to prove a point ourselves too. It wasn’t an acceptable result. Harps are a very good side at home to be fair but we have to step up in those kind of games.

“We all need to step up, every one of us, no matter who is playing.”

Bucko celebrates magical quarter-final in the Brandywell last season. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Bucko celebrates magical quarter-final in the Brandywell last season. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Bohs had a memorable run to the semi-finals of this competition last term.

They were 1-0 up against Cork City and moments from reaching the final until a controversial penalty decision forced a replay.

But they didn’t have enough against the then reigning league champions in Turner’s Cross, despite a wonder goal from the man sitting in the hotseat in the opposition dugout tonight.

Fans are still dreaming of ending an 11-year wait to win the competition once more. But Bucko says the players won’t fall into the trap of thinking that far ahead.

He added: “Every year you want to get to the final but this is only the first round.

“If you look too far ahead, you’ll end up on your arse. It’s the first round – one game – and that’s all we are thinking about right now.”

TEAM NEWS

Skipper Derek Pender remains suspended but Paddy Kirk returns from his one-match ban.

Keith Buckley returns from a hamstring injury, while Rob Cornwall (also hamstring) is available for selection also having been named on the bench against Harps last week after a lengthy lay-off.

Ryan Swan (hamstring) and Kevin Devaney (hip) are sidelined.

Long-term absentees Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out.

Keith Buckley visited his local Pearse Area Recreation Centre for the launch of the #ThisIsMyDublin campaign this week promoting Dublin City Sportsfest 2019 – a week-long celebration of sport & physical activity from September 23-29: dublincity.ie/sportsfest 

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