Preview: Bohemians v St Patrick’s Athletic

Derry City v Bohemians - SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday April 14 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine believes his players have the belief and desire to build on their positive start to the season.

Bohemians bounced back from Good Friday’s Dublin derby defeat to Shamrock Rovers, with Dean Williams’ penalty enough to give his side victory against Derry City in the Brandywell on Easter Monday.

That win extended Bohs’ lead at the top of the table to six points and made it seven wins from their opening nine games.

Devine said: “We have a really tight group, who are really close together. They came in on Saturday morning and the defeat was still hurting as you would expect.

“But I think they guys knew we had underperformed. We let the game affect us mentally, and we just wanted to learn from that, get up to Derry on the Monday and show what we are capable of.

“We didn’t defend well against Shamrock Rovers. We attacked them well at certain points but we did not defend well enough.

“Our willingness to defend was something we have been good at this year and that’s what was disappointing in the Rovers game.

“We spoke about that, freshened things up with four new faces for the Derry game. The guys who came in did really well, it was a real team performance.

“Dean Williams has been flying in training but has had the best striker in the league ahead of him. Dean came in and scored the winner and showed again how good he can be for us.

“Kris Twardek has been an outstanding player over the years, has been outstanding in training too and came in and did really well.

“Jay Benn is getting fitter by the week and came in and his match sharpness was first class.

“James Clarke, who was probably Bohs’ best player after he came in last season, came in and showed again that he will have a huge role for us.

“There is serious competition and everyone wants to play. That is without James McManus who has not started the last couple of games, who was probably one of our best players this season, John O’Sullivan has come on in recent games and done really well.

“We have Jordan Flores coming back now which is a tremendous asset. Keith Buckley has come back and had a massive performance in Derry. Then you have people like Adam McDonnell who has been a constant 9/10 in every game.

“I am so happy with the squad – we were without James Akintunde and Ali Coote. But our squad has pace and power, technical ability, physical ability.”

The latter was today named as SSE Airtricity/Soccer Writers Ireland Player of the Month for March, and Devine could not hide his delight for his star man.

He said: “I am really proud of Ali. I have a lot of happiness for him. I am so happy for him. His work ethic has been outstanding.

“His work that he puts in off the ball has been as important as when he has been on the ball. His assists and his goals have been so important for us too.

“He is a pleasure to work with and the award is fully deserved.

“He has been the best player in the league, and it is important that our players enjoy individual success as well as collective success.”

Being without such key performers meant Monday’s win all the more pleasing.

Devine said: “Our work ethic was outstanding. To win in places like the Brandywell is brilliant. We defended from front to back – our attacking players had to plug a lot of gaps – and our midfield expended a lot of energy.

“I listened to some reports of the game saying that Brian Maher didn’t have a save to make, but James Talbot barely had a save to make until injury time either.

“We felt comfortable in the game. Our goalkeeper didn’t have a save to make until the 95th minute, and we didn’t have balls cleared off lines.

“It wasn’t backs-to-the-wall in the way it has been reported. It was a battle in midfield with defences on top. It certainly was not a smash-and-grab but we showed great resilience, and keeping clean sheets away from home gives you a platform to win.

“It was really pleasing. We have been outstanding on the road this year, and that has given the players great belief. We have seven wins from nine, which is a good start. But we want to keep improving. We want to get the eighth now.”

Bohs beat tomorrow’s opposition the last time they met as goals from Afolabi and Williams gave them a 2-1 victory in Inchicore.

But the Saints have had an upturn in form since, and Devine says his side will have to be at their very best once more to claim victory.

He said: “St Pat’s are on a good run of form. Their results have been very positive – they have won three on the spin.

“They are a good team. They were a good team when we played them the last time. They have a really good squad of players.

“In every game we have got to work as hard as we possibly can and this will be a very tough game that we will be ready for.

“The games cannot come quick enough for our players at the minute. They are loving playing for the club. They are loving the atmosphere that our supporters are generating.

“I have managed and coached in the Brandywell for a hell of a long time and it’s the biggest and best away crowd I have ever seen in the ground in my career.

“Our fans have been magnificent, absolutely magnificent. They have been incredible in getting the team across the line. The players are bouncing off the fans right now.”

That bond was evident from the many videos and photos circulated online following a chance meeting between the players and fans making their way home from Derry on Monday.

Devine said: “We actually met a bus load at a petrol station in Monaghan on the way home. It was incredibly pleasing for me to see the togetherness of the players and fans, and them all relating with each other, singing together, and just enjoying the moment. It was special.”


James Akintunde (hamstring) remains out, while Ali Coote (thigh) is a doubt.

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