“Even without them being in the ground, our fans continue to motivate this team.”

Bohemians v Shelbourne - SSE Airtricity League Premier Division

Preview: Cork City v Bohemians
Sunday August 2 2020, Turner’s Cross, 5pm
Live on WatchLOI

Bohemians may be playing in front of virtually empty stadiums for the foreseeable future but the backing they have received from supporters is driving them on now more than ever.

149 days have passed since the Gypsies last took to the field in the SSE Airtricity League – a 2-0 victory over Shelbourne at Dalymount Park back in March with second-half goals from Andre Wright and Danny Mandroiu.

The intervening period has presented great challenges right across the globe but in a time of extraordinary adversity, Bohemians will mark our 130th year with renewed resolve.

The strength of the bond between players and supporters, which has blossomed under Keith Long since he took charge ahead of the 2015 season, was there for all to see as members, season ticket holders, sponsors and the wider Bohemian community dug deep over the course of the lockdown since March.

Those endeavours ensured that staff and players wages were paid in full and averted the potentially catastrophic financial impact of Covid-19 that could have seen the great strides made in recent seasons unravel.

Had the challenges posed by the pandemic hit in any number of seasons gone by, it is doubtful that the club would have been in a position to honour contracts. Now Long and his team are keen to repay the backing they have received from supporters between now and the end of the truncated 2020 season.

Long said: “Even without them being in the ground, our fans continue to motivate this team. Without their backing over the past four months or so, we might not be here.

“They’ve been right behind us when we’ve been on the pitch for the years I’ve been here and they’ve been right behind us during this difficult period too.

“That’s in the back of everyone’s mind – the players don’t need any reminding that without the support of the members, season ticket holders, sponsors and everyone else at the club, things could have been so much different.

“It has been a challenging time for everyone so for us to receive the level of backing we have in that context hasn’t gone unnoticed by anyone.

“We will collectively be doing our utmost between now and the end of the season to repay that faith.”

Playing in empty stadiums will get some getting used to.

From the roar of the Jodi Stand when the team enters the pitch at Dalymount Park to the boisterous vocal away support received the length and breadth of the country, this Bohs team is used to strong backing wherever they play.

Long said: “There’s certainly an element of unknown going into this and it is up to us to adapt quickly.

“It’s obviously going to be very different to what we are used to. There is normally a large home support at Turner’s Cross and we normally bring a good travelling support down too.

“But we are determined that wherever our fans are watching the stream of the game that we can go out and give them a good performance and result. We are really looking forward to it.”

Bohs have had four friendly games in recent weeks to get the team back up to speed with wins at home to Derry City and Longford Town, and defeats away to Dundalk and Linfield.

Long added: “We’ve played a good level of opposition in warm-up games but this is the real deal and we have to be ready.

“This is about getting off to a positive start. But it won’t be easy. We’ve never had it easy down in Turner’s Cross.

“There are only 12 games remaining after this one so we know we are going to have to be up to speed from the very start.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians will be without Cristian Magerusan (knee), Glen McAuley (concussion) and Paddy Kirk (ankle).[/toggle]

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