Preview: Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday September 1 2023, Tallaght Stadium, 7.45pm
Live on Virgin Media 2

Declan Devine says Bohemians come into tomorrow’s Dublin Derby away to Shamrock Rovers with confidence and self-belief.

Bohs lost the first two games against their rivals this season but battled from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 the last time the sides met, and Devine is aiming to go one better in Tallaght tomorrow.

He said: “There has been very little between the sides in the games we have played so far. In the first game we played against them at home, we were very good in the opening period, the game in Tallaght was decided by a decision that should have gone our way, and it was pleasing that we came from behind in the last game.

“But this is a brand new game. We are coming into it in fantastic form. We come into it with a lot of confidence and self-belief.

“We also know that they have been champions for the past three seasons for a reason. If we want to close that gap, and finish this season strongly, then this is a pivotal game for us.

“We need to match the performances that we have put on of late. We are away from home but we have won away from home in Inchicore and in the Brandywell this season, so we want to get maximum points in Tallaght too.

“We have spoken all week about how we will have to be at our very, very best. The one thing I will give this group of players is that they never give in and they never stop. That is what is going to be required in Tallaght.

“We are going to have to give everything for the duration of the game. I feel that our squad will again be crucial as I think it will be a game where we will have to use 14 or 15 players to participate.

“We are looking forward to the game. It hasn’t been over-hyped and we have prepared in the same way as we have for our last seven or eight games, which thankfully have gone well for us.”

Bohs come into the game unbeaten in eight – six in the league and two in the FAI Cup – which Devine hopes will stand to his side against Rovers, who are chasing their fourth league title in a row, as he looks to send supporters home happy.

He said: “It is pleasing that we have had the experience of the last few weeks of playing two really high level games of St Pat’s in Inchicore and Derry in Dalymount.

“Now we go to Tallaght again in front of the cameras. We have been fortunate that our players have played in front of big crowds all year, so that shouldn’t frighten us. We have also been involved in a lot of TV games this year, so that shouldn’t frighten us either.

“Our fans this year have travelled the length and breadth of Ireland to support and back us. The noise levels that they have generated, and the togetherness that we feel between the squad and the fans, is something that we should continue to try and build.

“It doesn’t matter if we are going to Tallaght or Dalymount, I want the fans to get right behind the team in both good moments and difficult moments, and for that to support to translate onto the pitch. If we continue to do that, the sky’s the limit for this group.”

Devine believes the competition for places within the group has been key to recent form, pointing to the example of James Clarke, who had to bide his time earlier in the season, but has been a star performer in recent weeks, scoring in three of Bohs’ four games this month.

Devine added: “At this moment in time, it is extremely difficult to be in my shoes trying to pick a starting XI. There are players there like James McManus, James Akintunde, Kris Twardek, Declan McDaid, Ali Coote, Bart Kukulowicz – players who probably feel they should be starting. But the competition for places is immense.

“Earlier in the season, for example, James Clarke was coming on and playing roles towards the latter stages of the game. But he is at a peak now where he is absolutely thriving at the minute.

“He is only 22 years of age and is getting better every week. His application to his football is second to none. He is not only a goalscoring threat from midfield, but his passing and penetration have been at the highest level.

“Long may it continue with James as I think we are only scratching the surface with him. He has only been at the club a year and I think over the next year or two, he can really develop into a top level player. The potential that the boy has is incredible.

“Just to see him playing with a smile on his face, and the energy he brings, is a joy. He has physically developed over the last six or seven months. He has got a fantastic understanding, not just with Jonathan Afolabi, but with his fellow midfield players behind him.

“But he has to be on top of his game because we have so many players competing for positions. That is something that is keeping everyone on his toes.

“With James, any time we have asked him to do something or give him a task, he has done it. He has had setbacks this year where he hasn’t been in the team but he never threw the towel in, never moped about, and never huffed and puffed.

“He kept working hard, kept his head down, made impacts coming off the bench, and finally really established himself. That is testament to his mentality, his determination, and to how much he loves playing for Bohs.

“With players like James Clarke, James McManus and Jonathan Afolabi, our age profile is good – there is a lot of growth and development from this young squad to come. And those kinds of players epitomise the potential we have to move the place forward in the coming years.”


Bohemians have a full squad to choose from.

  • Tomorrow’s game is being shown live on Virgin Media 2. The Members Bar at Dalymount Park is open for the game, with all pints €5.
Website by Simon Alcock