Preview: Bohemians v UCD


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday March 17 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says there can be no let-up in Bohemians’ work ethic and positive approach to games if they are to continue their impressive start to the season.

With four wins from five, Bohs currently top the table and host UCD at Dalymount Park on St Patrick’s Day.

Devine said: “We want to finish off before the international break with another good performance.

“We have done a lot of work on UCD this week. Nobody at the club underestimates them. You only have to go back to the opening day of the season when they went away to an expectant Dundalk and came away with a draw.

“They gave Sligo one hell of a game at the Bowl too so we are under no illusions that we have to be at our very best in every game we play.

“History tells us that on their day UCD are capable of beating anyone in this league and if we show any disrespect to anybody we will end up with egg on our face.”
Devine hopes to see another packed crowd at Dalymount Park. The Jodi Stand is long sold out but some tickets remain for the Des Kelly Stand and Mono Stand from

Devine said: “I have asked a lot of our fans over the start of the season so far.

“It’s St Patrick’s Day and a day for celebration but we want to get three points and to do that we need our fans with us again too.

“The fact that the Mono Stand is open for Bohs fans for the first time, it would be great to have as many Bohs in there as possible and have the three sides of the ground behind us from the off.”

Bohs’ most recent league victory saw them dominate St Patrick’s Athletic and come away from Inchicore with a 2-0 victory last Friday thanks to goals from Johnny Afolabi and Dean Williams.

Devine said: “The most pleasing aspect for me is that we have been going to difficult venues and putting on performances, not just holding out.

“The players probably didn’t get the credit they deserve for going down to Cork on the first day of the season when you see some of the results Cork have picked up since.

“St Pat’s were unbeaten at home so for us to go there and be quite dominant in the game was a testament to the players and their courage in a hostile atmosphere.

“It is just three points though and we have to make sure we match that now again on Friday. We have been very positive but we are only starting and we have to continue to strive to get better.

“When we have the ball we have got to be creative because we have very good creative players but we also have very good work ethic and a real desire to get the ball back.

“Johnny’s goal last Friday, for example, comes from Adam McDonnell chasing a lost cause a few seconds before Ali Coote picks the ball up. Chasing those lost causes is crucial in our league. We can never give up and we can never stop working.”

Afolabi and Williams notched their first league goals for the club, and Devine was delighted to see his frontmen rewarded for their efforts.

He said: “The only person putting pressure on Johnny was Johnny himself but his overall play all season has been sensational. He is making really good, firmly established defenders look under pressure, which is a testament to him and to the supply he is getting too.

“Dean is a fantastic finisher. He hasn’t started so far but his time will come. He is such a well-liked member of the group – when he went into the dressing room afterwards everybody was singing his name.

“For Dean’s goal, the goalkeeper made an error but made it because we put him under pressure, which is fantastic. Our right-back Grant Horton is chasing the goalkeeper down in the 92nd minute, which is a bit unheard of.

“Likewise for Afolabi’s header, our right-back was right behind him if he missed it to tuck it away.

“Another pleasing aspect is our front five have all scored. Johnny, Dean, James Akintunde, Declan McDaid and Ali.

“We have chipped in with goals from Grant from a set-piece, and Jordan Flores now has three, so I believe we have goals right through our team.
“I was also delighted for our back four and James Talbot for keeping a clean sheet. James pulled off a brilliant save last week, which could have been a turning point in the game, and our defence is getting a bit more settled, which is really pleasing.

“Another important aspect is that everyone is getting on. You have people like Keith Buckley, James Talbot, Paddy Kirk, Jordan, with all their experiences, pulling the group really tightly together.”

That includes James McManus, who celebrated his 18th birthday after training today and was presented with a birthday cake by skipper Bucko.

Devine said: “James is a fantastic young lad.

“I am delighted to see him called up for the Ireland U19s this week, and I think it is only a matter of time before he is called up for the U21s – I have no doubt about that.

“He is turning a lot of heads as I knew he would but, at the same time, there is no pressure on the boy. We have serious competition for places in the middle of the park.

“Every player and member of staff loves working with James on a daily basis. He is so grounded. He is just a class act and is very brave in his approach to games.”
With games coming thick and fast, a completely changed Bohs XI laboured to a 1-0 extra-time Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final victory against Crumlin United on Monday, with John O’Sullivan scoring the winning goal.

But there were more positives to take with U19s players Derwin Adewale, Alex O’Brien, Chris Lotefa and Luca Cailloce all handed first-team starts.

Devine added: “I was very impressed with the young players who came up from the academy, and were probably our best players on the day.

“We want to win every game so the positive is we won and are through to the semi-finals.John O’Sullivan got minutes and scored, Jay Benn got minutes, Dylan Connolly got minutes while suspended in the league, while Luke Dennison and Drew Baker made their debuts.
“All of that is important as we will need our entire squad sharp this season.”


Captain Keith Buckley (calf) is a doubt while Dylan Connolly serves the last of his three-game ban following his sending-off against Shelbourne.

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