PREVIEW: Bohemians v Shelbourne

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Sports Direct FAI Cup First Round
Friday July 21 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Declan Devine has demanded a performance ‘full of energy, heart and soul’ when his side host Shelbourne in the FAI Cup at Dalymount Park.

He says Bohs need to improve on last week’s performance against the same opposition – his side drew 1-1 in the league at Tolka Park.

Devine’s men go into the tie boosted by the addition of winger Danny Grant to the matchday squad for the first time since he rejoined the club last week from Huddersfield Town.

Devine said: “We are looking for a performance – a performance full of energy, heart and soul.

“We want our players to really come to the party as it is all about winning this game. Nothing else is important.

“We have got to make sure – by hook or by crook – that we are in that draw for the next round.

“There will be a lot of clubs going out this weekend and we have got to make sure that we are not one of them.”

Johnny Afolabi netted his fourth goal in four games against Shels last week as Bohs battled back to earn a point in Drumcondra but Devine was disappointed with his side’s performance.

He said: “We have to be better than we were last week. We were disappointed with ourselves. We have to be harder to play against. We have to be tighter together in transition offensively and defensively.

“But there is no team in the country who have gone to Tolka this year and had it easy. They are very good in Tolka, they are very hard to play against.

“They have players who can hurt us and we know that. But we also have players who can hurt them.

“We have been very good here in Dalymount but we have to stop giving ourselves mountains to climb, that is something we have to fix.”

The return of Grant to Dalymount was greeted with delight from Bohs fans, and Devine says he has been impressed with what he has seen from the 23-year-old in training so far.

He hopes to see more of Ali Coote and James Akintunde too – the duo have had limited game-time recently due to persistent niggles but are now back in contention to start.

Devine said: “Danny is added to the squad and will be involved at some stage, which gives a huge lift.

“He is looking great. I am sure he is itching to get back playing again – he has been a massive addition in training.

“But even before Danny comes into the squad, we have incredible attacking options. We have some of the best attackers in the country. The competition for the front three of four positions is exceptional.

“Ali came on last week, and has trained well again this week. James has trained well the last week to 10 days too.

“We need to tighten up at the back, and try to get another body or two in, but our attacking options, even just watching them today in training, really really excite me.”

Efforts to improve defensively were bolstered by the arrival of Bartlomiej Kukulowicz – the right-back made his debut as a second-half substitute in Tolka last week.

His introduction saw captain Keith Buckley move back to his natural position in midfield and with him pulling the strings in the centre of the park, coupled with the introduction of the lively duo of Coote and James Clarke, sparked Bohs back into life.

Devine added: “Bartlomiej has come in and did very well in the 15 minutes. Bucko has experience of playing there and with new players coming in during this window, sometimes it takes time for them to get up to speed because they haven’t played.

“Bucko knows the right-back role, he has been outstanding any time he has played there this year. Yes, him playing there is a loss in the middle of the park but we have other quality midfielders also.

“We just have to make sure that players we bring in at this time are safe, and look at the bigger picture that there is a lot of football to be played between now and the end of the season.”


Luke Dennison (hand) and Dean Williams (ankle) remain out.

Danny Grant is set to be named in the matchday squad for the first time since his return to the club.

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