Preview: Bohemians v UCD

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SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday July 28 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Bohemians manager Declan Devine has said nothing less than 100% focus and a high-level performance is needed against UCD at Dalymount Park.

Although the Students are cut adrift at the bottom of the table – 14 points separate them at ninth-placed Cork City – this season, Bohs know from previous meetings that they cannot let their guard down.

In March, Devine’s men had to come from behind to beat Andy Myler’s side 2-1 at Dalymount Park, and in April they were held to a 1-1 draw at the UCD Bowl.

Devine said: “Listen, UCD have caused us problems this season. In Dalymount, they took the lead and should have been two ahead before we got a grip of the game.

“We dropped points in Belfield too so we know we need 100% focus from the start. Last week is in the past, nobody is thinking about anything other than UCD.

“We need a high-level performance, nothing less.”

Bohs come into the game on the back of a 1-0 win over Shelbourne in the Sports Direct FAI Cup at Dalymount Park.

Johnny Afolabi’s fifth goal in as many games avenged last year’s reversal in the same competition at Tolka Park.

Devine was delighted with his side’s performance against a side they have struggled to break down in recent encounters, but believes they could have done more to put the game to bed.

He said: “I felt a performance like that at home had been coming. There has been an appetite in our performances in Dalymount – we saw it in the way we came from behind to beat Dundalk and coming from behind to draw with Rovers.

“What was important about last week’s game is that we started so strongly. We started with hunger. Our aggression, our intensity and our desire was there right from the start.

“If anything, we should have won by more, and we talked about that this week. We need to be more ruthless in front of goal. We had chances to put the game to bed.

“When we are creating chances, we need to smell blood, and we need to put games to bed.

“So we want to be more ruthless, and I feel with the players coming back from injury and players we have added in this window, that we can do that.”

Having seen the loan spells of defenders Grant Horton, Jay Benn and Drew Baker come to an end this month, Devine has been busy during this transfer window trying to shore up his backline options.

Right-back Bartlomiej Kukulowicz arrived from Poland, Cian Byrne was recalled from his loan spell with Longford, while fellow centre-back Louie Holzman signed today on loan from Reading until the end of the season.

Devine is pleased with his options. Kacper Radkowski was particularly impressive against Shels, while Byrne seized his opportunity when he came on for the injured Krystian Nowak.

Devine said: “Louie is a very welcome addition to the squad, and will give us competition in defence.

“Krystian came off last Friday feeling a tightness in his quad. Separately, he took a hit off the ball earlier in the game. Thankfully he was able to continue after that, but he is touch and go with his quad for UCD.

“Cian came on and did exceptionally well. That wasn’t a surprise to us. He is well regarded here having come through the academy, and we signed him on his first professional contract at the start of the season for a reason.

“We knew he had to go out on loan to test himself at senior football but we have been monitoring him at Longford since the start of the season.

“We kept a really close eye on him, and Cian really impressed. So I am delighted that when he got an opportunity in such a big game for us that he took it.

“We have good defenders. Because he has been such an important player for us and played every minute for us this season, people might forget that Kacper is only 22 years of age.

“But he has been outstanding for us. Not just on the pitch, but in the group. He’s the kind of player who is the first to arrive in the morning and the last player to leave, working away in the gym.

“It’s not easy for someone his age to come and live in a different country and culture, but he has embraced every minute of it since day one, and brings so much to the group on and off the pitch.

“He has been a shining light for us this year, in terms of his attitude, his strength, and his professionalism. He is thriving here, has so much potential, and I feel he is only going to get better.”

Another man thriving is James Clarke. Perhaps frustrated that he has not started as many games as he might have hoped for this season, he made his qualities known right from the start against Shelbourne, and was a key man as Bohs dictated the tempo of the game.

Devine added: “James was outstanding. The big space in Dalymount suits his style of play – he scored in his previous start in Dalymount.

“We have a lot of talent now, and it is really pleasing to see the likes of James grab his opportunity.

“That’s one of the qualities of this team. Players are never sulking when they are not in the team, they work extremely hard so that when an opportunity comes their way they seize it.

“You saw that with our subs last week too, they came on and helped to manage the game very well.

“We will need that between now and the end of the season. We will need our squad.

“There will be times when players have to be patient but there are a lot of games left to play – and certain games suit certain players more than others – and we need everybody to be at it when called upon.”


Krystian Nowak (quad) is a doubt.

Dean Williams (ankle) has returned to light training but remains out.

Luke Dennison (hand) also remains out but is expected to return in the very near future.

Danny Grant is pushing for game-time for the first time since rejoining from Huddersfield.

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