“We have players who can come in and do as good a job”

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BOHEMIANS v CABINTEELY
Extra.ie FAI Cup
Monday August 31st, 2020
Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians are determined to bounce back from Thursday’s agonising penalty shootout exit from the Europa League when Cabinteely are the visitors to Dalymount Park in the Extra.ie FAI Cup tonight.

Going into the game away to Hungarian side Fehervar, Bohs were considered complete underdogs, with odds as long as 13-1 for them to win the game.

But a stunning performance saw them draw 1-1 with Keith Ward giving the Gypsies the lead on 22 minutes, before the hosts equalised from the spot 15 minutes later.

Keith Long’s men had chances to win it in the second half and in extra time, but despite their valiant efforts, came undone in the lottery of a penalty shootout.

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While devastated at the final whistle, many positives and much pride can be taken from their performance.

One of the many men who impressed was James Finnerty, who was forced into action in the 71st minute after Rob Cornwall suffered an ankle injury. He is likely to start tonight.

Such was Finnerty’s performance that that the onlooking Hungary head coach Marco Rossi told one Bohs director that he was the best player on the pitch.

It is some turnaround for Finnerty, who was making his first appearance since the opening day of the season. He has had to be patient this year having played 31 of Bohs’ 36 league games in 2019.

The Meath man, 21, said: “I have had to bide my time, Rob and Dan Casey have both been very solid at the back this season. I just had to keep training hard and be ready to take my chance when it came.

“There is great competition for places all over the team this season so you just have to be patient when you’re not in the team and keep working hard.

“We have good back-up in every position so when a player gets injured or is suspended, we have players who can come in and do as good a job.”

While supporters are used to Finnerty’s solid displays at centre-back, they are less so used to his attacking capabilities.

Finnerty’s run from one end of the pitch to the other having won a tackle deep inside his own half in the second half of extra time surprised many, including his former captain and co-commentator on the night Derek Pender who wondered what Long must have thought about it.

Finnerty added: “Keith and Trevor were both shouting over at me but I couldn’t really hear them. They were probably giving out that I was so far forward when we were at 1-1 with five minutes to go! But I have that side to my game too.”

For Long, tonight’s tie pits him against his father-in-law Pat Devlin, with whom he has previously worked at Bray Wanderers.

Long said: “Pat has a love affair with the FAI Cup going back to 1990 when he first won the cup with Bray Wanderers and a feat he then repeated in 1999 when Bray defeated Finn Harps after three games.

“Pat’s involvement in League of Ireland football stems back decades and he deserves great credit for the service he has done for Irish football and the influence he has had on many generations of footballers.

“Because he has worked for what some may see as unfashionable clubs, some of his work goes unnoticed but he is a competitor and wants to win.

“He has put together an excellent Cabinteely side and along with his backroom team of Eddie Gormley and Graham O’Hanlon, he will have his players primed.

“We will have to be at our very best and we expect a very tough game with Cabinteely flying high at the top of the First Division.”

Long will not entertain the idea of his team feeling sorry for themselves following their Europa League exit, and has challenged his side to match that level of performance for the remainder of the season.

He added: “After a huge and at times heroic performance in Hungary on Thursday night, it is important that we show resilience and character to bounce back and hopefully progress to an FAI Cup quarter-final.

“Myself, Trevor and all the backroom staff are immensely proud of the players and how they performed. After a nervous enough opening, we got a really good goal with Kris Twardek delivering a quality cross after a powerful run down the sides for Keith Ward to score at the back post.

“Unfortunately we couldn’t hang on to our lead till half-time but I thought the shape of the team in the second half was good and the boys fought so hard for each other to try and come away with what would have been an unbelievable victory against a really good side with enormous resources.

“To a man, they ran themselves into the ground, they did so for each other, for the club and what it means to them to be involved within this group.

“Fehervar are a really decent side, they have some top players and we pushed them all the way only to lose out on penalties. That was gut wrenching but it also shows you the direction in which the club is going.

“I have to comment also on the support we received from the stands. It was unbelievable to hear the small travelling party to a man and woman get behind the lads. We could hear every word and again it just reaffirms that we work for a really great, proud club that backs its players to the hilt.

“That also goes for the players sitting in the stands who put aside their own disappointments of not playing to support the boys helping them and encouraging them to fight for every inch.

“Although the pain of losing on penalties was hard to take, it is very clear that this club has fostered a unique sense of togetherness which is a very powerful thing as we search for constant progression and improvement.”

TEAM NEWS

Bohemians will be without Danny Mandroiu and Danny Grant who are both attending an Ireland U21s’ training camp. Rob Cornwall (ankle) and Keith Buckley (hamstring), who were both forced off on Thursday, are both sidelined.

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