Preview: Shelbourne v Bohemians


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday July 14 2023, Tolka Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says last week’s comeback victory over Dundalk gave everyone at Bohemians a huge lift.

But he expects another tough game in tonight’s sold-out Dublin derby away to Shelbourne, who he says are one of the hardest teams in the league to break down.

Bohs have the opportunity to break back into the top four this evening, and have been bolstered by the signing of Polish right-back Bartlomiej Kukulowicz last week and the return of a fans’ favourite, winger Danny Grant, who joined yesterday.

Devine was frustrated that they again gave themselves a mountain to climb against the Lilywhites – James McManus had given Bohs the lead on 15 minutes but they found themselves 2-1 down 20 minutes later.

But he was delighted with his players’ resolve as they never gave up in the second half, and finally got their rewards with goals in the 81st minute from substitute John O’Sullivan and in the 84th minute from Johnny Afolabi.

He was particularly pleased for O’Sullivan, whose first year at the club has been disrupted by injury, meaning he has had to bide his time for opportunities to show what he is capable of.

Devine said: “I am delighted for John. John has had a difficult first year with the club with his injury. But he puts himself about on the training pitch everyday, and he got his reward last week.

“It was really pleasing for him, and it was really pleasing for the group too as he is a popular guy within the group.

“If you back at the goal, his movement and his ability to see things happen showed a lot of ability and experience.

“He is a good fella and hopefully now that can be the catalyst for John to push on and have a really strong end of the season.”

Already buzzing from O’Sullivan’s equaliser, Dalymount erupted when Afolabi coolly slotted home the winner after a fine through-ball from substitute James Clarke.

Devine said: “I was worried because he had just picked up a yellow card before the goal and with the emotion of him scoring, I was thinking ‘please, please, please do not take that top off!’ It would have been a long ten minutes with ten men!

“Johnny has been carrying a niggle for six or seven weeks and it has only recently cleared up. Now we are seeing the best of him.

“There is nobody in the league who has had the physical competition that that man has had. But he just gets up and gets on with it, and now he is bringing goals to his game, and defenders are afraid of him.”

As delighted as he was with his team’s resolve to fight back, Devine says they need to stop giving themselves mountains to climb.

He added: “We have a really difficult game. Shelbourne are undoubtedly one of the hardest teams in the league to break down.

“But we are confident in ourselves and in our ability. We have looked at where we can hurt Shels but we have got to learn from previous games in terms of game management.

“We have got to understand that we cannot give teams head starts or ways back into games, that is something we have talked about all week.

“Our application this week and the lift last week’s result and performance has given us is huge. We learnt a lot about ourselves last week, and our ability to drive and come from behind. But individual errors have got to stop.

“We will bring a huge crowd over to Tolka Park. We want to make sure we send those people home happy.

“It’s going to be a physical game and a tactical game, but it is one we have prepared well for.

“This team cares and works hard. This team leaves everything out on the pitch. Yes we make errors and individual mistakes but as a group we keep working, keep driving on and finish games strongly.

“We have a lot of talent for a team that has only been assembled for such a short period of time.

“There is a real unity in our group and I think you can see that in our performances. No matter what happens in games, we are brave, and aggressive in our play. This team has character in abundance.

“But we know we can’t keep giving ourselves mountains to climb because eventually the mountain will be too high.”


Ali Coote (hamstring) and James Akintunde (quad) are back in contention.

Kris Twardek (thigh) is a doubt, while Luke Dennison (hand) and Dean Williams (ankle) remain out.

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