Preview: Bohemians v Dundalk


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday July 7 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Declan Devine has challenged his side to get back to the level of performance they showed they are capable of earlier this season.

Bohs suffered their heaviest defeat of the season when they were beaten 3-1 by Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds last Friday.

It was a particularly frustrating result given Bohs have shown they are well capable of beating the Bit O’Red – winning 1-0 at the Showgrounds in April and 2-0 at Dalymount at the beginning of last month.

So Bohs come into tomorrow’s game against Dundalk in patchy form, but boosted by the signing of Bartlomiej Kukulowicz, who Devine describes as an ‘out-and-out right-back’ and who ‘ticks a lot of boxes for us in the way we want to play’.

Devine said: “We have dropped a lot of points over the last eight or nine games. There have been a lot of tough games but we certainly should have had a better points return. We have spoken about that.

“Friday night in Sligo was our worst performance of the season, there is no doubt about that.

“We didn’t get to grips with the game, we didn’t start the way we wanted to start. To find ourselves 2-0 down at half-time, we gave ourselves a mountain to climb.

“Sligo outworked us, outfought us and outplayed us. That is something we cannot let happen again. I think it’s the first time this season that we were second best in all three of those strands.

“There have been times where we have been outplayed but where we have outfought the opposition but that didn’t happen in Sligo.

“We were seriously lacking. Everyone is hurting. We know there is more in us. I still believe there is a lot in this group of players.

“We have a very tight group and we have spoken about the points left behind us. We are confident we can get back to the level of performances we are capable of.”

Bohs have four points from their two games against Dundalk this season – a 2-1 victory in Dalymount in February and a 2-2 draw in Oriel Park in May when Devine’s side battled back from 2-0 down.

The Lilywhites come into this game in fourth place, four points and one place ahead of Bohs, although Stephen O’Donnell’s side have played two games more.

Devine said: “The top teams are not too far ahead of us. We have games in hand but that means nothing as you still have to win those games.

“The four teams above us will be heading into Europe very shortly, which shows how important this game is. We want to be closer to the top teams when they are playing in Europe than we are now.

“We want a proper response now. We have played some good stuff at home and we want to get back to that. We want to put in a performance in front of our fans, and we want everyone to rally together and push on.”

Although frustrated with the manner of the defeat last week, Devine revealed his options were limited due to injuries of some of his key men.

He said: “We are carrying a lot of niggles and knocks at the moment. We didn’t have enough players to fill the bench properly. Ali Coote couldn’t come on, James Akintunde couldn’t come on and Keith Buckley was carrying a knock that we weren’t willing to take a risk with.

“With so many niggles in the group, we have to be very careful as we don’t want a situation where because we have taken a risk a player ends up being out for six, seven weeks like Dean Williams is and like Luke Dennison is now. We can’t afford any more.”

Those concerns forced Devine’s hand when it came to Monday’s Leinster Senior Cup semi-final away to Shelbourne at Tolka Park, and he opted to hand the reins to U19 manager Trevor Croly.

Captain for the night, James McManus, and Cian Byrne, in his first game back after being recalled from his loan spell at Longford Town, were the only players with significant senior football experience yet Croly’s side came out on top of a Shelbourne side that featured several first-team regulars.

In an entertaining end-to-end tie, Bohs twice sacrificed a two-goal cushion but came out 4-3 winners thanks to goals from Adetobi Jinadu, Jack O’Reilly, Taylor Mooney and Peter Grogan to progress to the final against Usher Celtic.

Devine added: “It was a brilliant game and a brilliant atmosphere. We had originally planned to have five or six first-team players in the team but with the injuries and niggles we have, and the manner of the defeat in Sligo, we felt that we needed a full week’s training schedule.

“We got in touch with Trevor Croly immediately after our game on Friday night to tell him that. Each and every one of his players who took to that pitch on Monday night should be so proud and their families should be so proud.

“They were up against a very difficult opponent – Shels’ U19s are very strong and they had five or six senior players with a wealth of experience.

“So for them to go toe-to-toe with them and perform in such a pressurised situation was a credit to themselves but also a testimony to Trevor Croly, the coaching staff and all who have coached them in the academy.

“Nobody wants to lose a semi-final, it doesn’t matter if it is your senior team or your U19 team, so to come away from Tolka with a win is huge for them.

“To be pegged back to 3-3 and to then have the bravery and quality to go up again and get that fourth goal was very pleasing.

“All of the first team and coaching staff were in the main stand and I think we cheered even more than the fans because we were just delighted for them – the sheer enjoyment of it – and we knew how much it meant to them.

“After the game, for the first team to go into the dressing room to congratulate the U19s, and get behind them and support them, was special. It was a lovely unity, and we look forward to the final now, which we hope is in Dalymount.”


Ali Coote (hamstring), Luke Dennison (hand) and Dean Williams (ankle) are out. James Akintunde (quad) and Keith Buckley (calf) are doubts.

It is hoped that new signing Bartlomiej Kukulowicz will join the matchday squad, while Cian Byrne is set to be included having been recalled from his loan spell with Longford Town.

Grant Horton and Drew Baker’s loan spells at the club have come to an end.

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