Bohemians v UCD - SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Saturday April 1 2023, The Showgrounds, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says his Bohemians players have spent the international break working hard together to build on their impressive start to the season.

Five wins from six saw Bohs top the table going into this weekend’s series of games but Devine believes they will have to be at their very best to beat Sligo Rovers in the Showgrounds.

He said: “We want more, and we want to get better. We are just six games into a long season but the response from the players, staff and everyone has been very pleasing.

“The break has been important for us for a number of reasons.

“It allowed us to get a couple of the lads back, and we hadn’t previously had much time to work on certain aspects of our defending because some of the players we brought in came to the club so late in the transfer window.

“But we have had time now over the past couple of weeks to work on that side of things. Attacking-wise, we have been very good, and now we want to pull it all together.

“The break allowed those lads who came to the club late in the window opportunities to get away for a couple of days too; head home, see their families and parents, and have a bit more preparation in terms of moving here and settling in properly.

“But after those couple of days off, we were all back at it full pelt. We have been in everyday, players have had double sessions, and they have been enjoying working with each other on the training pitch.

“It was important, after a busy start to the season, that we had 10/11 days to really work with the players. Hopefully we will see the benefits of that now.

“There is a serious fight for positions, there is a real energy about the place, and we will need that as games are coming thick and fast.

“We have great flexibility within the group and we have players who haven’t had much playing time but that will change when you look at the schedule coming up.

“But our sole focus now is going to Sligo and trying to win at a very difficult venue.”

Although the season is only in its infancy, Bohs have already enjoyed a couple of enjoyable performances away from home this year.

Devine said: “We have been good on the road so far – going to difficult venues like Turner’s Cross and Richmond Park and winning, and were unfortunate in Tolka Park when we were down to 10 men.

“But this is another huge test for us going to the Showgrounds in front of a full house on a Saturday night.

“It is a game that every single person at the club is looking forward to – the games cannot come quick enough for us, and we have to embrace them.

“Sligo have good players. John Russell has them playing a completely different brand of football to what they had been playing.

“They have been formidable at home. They beat St Pat’s with 10 men, scored a last-minute equaliser against Shamrock Rovers, and went to the Brandwell and drew.

“They have been performing really well in big games so we know that it is a really difficult fixture where we will have to be at our very best.”

Bohs come into the game on the back of a 2-1 win against UCD a fortnight ago. A difficult first half saw Bohs go in at the break a goal down having had a perfectly good goal from Johnny Afolabi ruled out, while Ali Coote missed a penalty.

While heads were bowed coming off the pitch, the players responded to the great encouragement they received from the Dalymount faithful as second half goals from Paddy Kirk and man-of-the-match Coote saw Bohs claim all three points to remain top of the table.

Devine said: “There were a lot of positives to take from the game. We suffered a lot of setbacks in the first half – a goal disallowed, missing a penalty and going a goal behind – but we showed great resilience in how we went out and attacked the second half.

“We have good footballers and good characters who work hard on a daily basis, so it was pleasing to get the next goal and to build on that very quickly to get the second.

“But we have to learn from the game too – we want to put teams to bed. We do not want to be holding on in the last five/six minutes of games.

“The most pleasing thing was fans and players staying together as a group to get the three points.

“Coming off at half-time, the players were a bit flat but the fans were magic and gave them an enormous lift.

“Our fans have been absolutely brilliant and our players have responded. They have given them something to enjoy so far and long may it continue.

“We need energy in the stands and we need energy on the pitch.

“There are going to be times in games when things aren’t going so well. Like times against UCD, like times against Drogheda, like times against Cork; our fans were needed to get us across the line.

“No doubt on Saturday there will be times where we will be under pressure and that is where we need our fans the most.

“It was the same at the first game of the season down in Cork. We were under serious pressure in the last 10/15 minutes and I looked around to the crowd and they got going again for us.

“You need that in those difficult moments even more than when you are on top. That is what we have had so far this year – the reaction between the fans and players.

“We all get our rewards then when we score goals, and you can see how much it means then from the reaction of the players running to celebrate with our fans.”


Bohemians have a full squad to choose from.

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