Preview: Drogheda United v Bohemians


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday September 22 2023, Weavers Park, 7.45pm
Tickets still available online on general sale

Declan Devine says Bohemians must knuckle down and refocus if they are to deliver a repeat victory away to Drogheda United tomorrow evening.

Bohs came out on the right side of last week’s Sports Direct FAI Men’s Cup quarter-final at Weavers Park and tomorrow face Drogs at the same venue in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division.

A goal from Krystian Nowak and a brace from Johnny Afolabi delivered a 3-1 win and the perfect present for Devine’s 50th birthday last Friday, but Devine had little time to celebrate as focus immediately turned to this week’s rematch.

Devine said: “I was happy last week with our performance but I wasn’t ecstatic as I thought we had opportunities to put the game to bed earlier than we did. I was also disappointed that we conceded just after half-time even though not in a million years did I think it was a penalty.

“The main purpose of last week was to get into the next round of the cup and that was achieved. We moved the ball in difficult conditions quite well, and created a number of great opportunities. But I am looking for us to be better this week in both boxes.

“We defended well, but felt we could have had the game controlled a wee bit better. There are definitely things we can learn from last week, and things we need to do better. That has to be the aim for us going there again.”

After dominating long periods of the first half, Bohs probably felt they should have had more to show for it than a 1-0 lead at the break, particularly when Ryan Brennan’s penalty levelled the game early in the second half.

But Bohs asserted themselves, and went after the game once more.

Devine said: “Our squad is key. Being able to make changes in the way we did, at the stages that we did, was very important. When we go into this period we are in now in terms of having back-to-back Friday/Monday games, we have to utilise our squad.

“We have to make sure that we have energy and quality coming off the bench at the right times.

“Over the course of the season, we have scored a lot of late goals, and the fact that when we went back to 1-1, that the players did not panic and did not worry is a sign of the team maturing.

“It showed experience and that they trusted themselves. They took their setback, sucked it up and they went after the game again, which was a defining moment in the game.

“There was a calmness about us in terms of going and getting the next goal. To get the goal reasonably quickly after Drogheda scored gave us confidence too.

“But we had to dig in, we had to defend. We faced a lot of set pieces and defended them really well, which was really pleasing as was getting three goals away from home.”

The challenge now is to do it all again against a side seeking revenge, but Devine knows there can be no let-up as his side, currently in fourth, looks to break into the top three and secure European qualification through the league.

Devine said: “We spoke on Saturday morning then about a refocus and their attitude, honesty and intensity all week has been outstanding.

“Every player and every member of staff knows the importance of the next game. We are at a stage of the season where every point and every three points is critical. We have got to go up to Drogheda again and give an even better performance than what we did last week.

“We still have a couple of gears that we can go up. We have to make sure now that we are relentless in our pursuit of points, wanting more and driving on between now and the end of the season.”

Devine also comes into this week’s game with the advantage of being reminded of what some of the club’s upcoming talent, and first-team players in need of game-time, have to offer after a crowd of 3093 at Dalymount Park on Monday night saw an experimental Bohs line-up beat Usher Celtic 5-0 to lift the Leinster Senior Cup.

Devine added: “It was a really positive night for us. When we went out for the warm-up and knew that there was going to be over 3000 there, that was sensational.

“It was invaluable that that bond between the fans and players was there for the younger lads playing in front of such a crowd for the first time.

“It was brilliant for Cian Byrne, who has come right through our academy, to be the captain of a team that lifts a trophy at Dalymount Park, irrelevant of what the tournament is because that doesn’t happen every day of your life.

“That is something he should take enormous pride and joy in. It reminds all our young players in the U19s that he was playing at that level last year, and shows that the pathway is open to them and that if you work hard, things can happen for you at our club.

“And I was delighted for Jake McCormack and Chris Lotefa to experience what it feels like to score in front of such a crowd.

“It was right that a good few of the U19s got to play and had an opportunity to perform in front of such a crowd because the U19s got us there with the performance away to Shelbourne in the semi-final.

“At this stage of the season, we also had to use the game for some players to get minutes. Bart Kukulowicz, Louie Holzman, Cian Byrne, Luke Dennison, Ali Coote – a lot of them needed to play, and they played well. Declan McDaid’s goal was a fantastic goal, and Kris Twardek did really well.

“Overall it was a great night. There is a great appetite from our fans to see us play in Dalymount and that is down to the levels of performances that the players are putting in when they play at Dalymount. We have been good at home this year. Our performance was very professional, scoring early and scoring late.”


Paddy Kirk (ankle) and Bart Kukulowicz (knee) are doubts while Dean Williams (ankle) made his long-awaited return off the bench on Monday.

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