SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Monday September 25 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says Bohemians must grasp every opportunity presented to them between now and the end of the season, and make their pace and power count when they host Shelbourne at Dalymount Park tomorrow.

Bohs were left frustrated on Friday night when they could not find a way past Drogheda United. They were held to a 0-0 draw in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division at Weavers Park having won 3-1 in the Sports Direct FAI Men’s Cup at the same venue a week previously.

Devine says his side’s performance did not reach the heights of the display in the cup, and has challenged them to move up the gears against Shels at Dalymount.

Devine said: “It was always going to be a difficult game. We won four out of the four previous games against them this season but none of those were easy games.

“We prepared well for the game and had two or three really good opportunities, and their goalkeeper came away with man of the match, which tells its own story.

“We had opportunities to win the game and, bar one great opportunity they had, we were the dominant team. But having watched the game back, I think we had another couple of gears in us. We didn’t hit the heights we did up there the week before.

“You only have to look at the results over the past couple of weeks to see the nature of this league. For us, Friday could end up being a valuable point. It was really important we didn’t lose the game but we wanted to win it.”

Shels’ win against Cork City on Friday saw them overtake Bohs and move up to fourth in what is a congested top half of the table.

Devine said: “We are still in a position where we have four home games to go, two away, and are challenging for those European places.

“Monday is a big game, there is no doubt about it. It’s been a calendar month since we last played a league game in Dalymount. We have had Rockmount and Usher Celtic in the cups in the meantime, but the players are all really looking forward to having a league game at home.

“There’s very little between a lot of the teams pushing hard for Europe. We have to make sure we go and perform. The players have trained the last two days and are feeling fresh.

“It’s a big game, a derby with a lot riding on it. It’s a game every player wants to be involved in. At home with the big spaces we have in Dalymount and with the pace and power we have in this team, it suits us.

“We want to grasp every opportunity that is presented to us between now and the end of the season. We have two home games this week and we want to target two wins but we know we have to be at our absolute best to do that.

“Shels have strengthened with the additions they brought in during the summer but we are in a good place too with the players that are now back available to us. Everybody is back fit – Dean Williams got another game under his belt with the U19s against Rovers in Tallaght today.

“With three games in a week, we have got to use our squad and use our subs. We are able to make changes in games without weakening the team because we have a lot of talented boys available.

“I couldn’t be happier with the effort the players are giving us. It is our first year together, we are in the semi-final of the cup, and we are pushing hard in the league for a European place.

“But these are the games now in the business end of the season where we really have to be competitive, and showcase the style of play and qualities that we have – our pace, our power. I think we can be a real handful for anyone, especially at Dalymount Park with the crowd right behind us. It is up to us now to embrace that, give everything of ourselves to get maximum points.”

Despite a congested fixture list in recent weeks, Devine comes into this game with a full squad to choose from.

Dean Williams has benefited from run-outs in the Leinster Senior Cup final and for the U19s, while Paddy Kirk has overcome the ankle injury that saw him sit out the previous two games.

Devine also hopes to see more from the likes of James Akintunde – a key performer in Bohs’ blistering start to the season but who has endured a frustrating few months since.

Devine said: “Having worked with James for a number of seasons at Derry previous to bringing him here, I can say he has had a really unfortunate year with injuries. Not only has he picked up one or two injuries, he’s actually had three or four throughout the course of the year.

“He is a guy who gives everything of himself, and is otherwise in fantastic condition. But he has a stop-start season with the injuries he has picked up. I think over the coming weeks we will see the James we saw at the start of the season when he was really tearing it up.

“He is a fantastic player to have, and he is working incredibly hard in training. We will definitely see the best of him again.

“The same goes for other players. The likes of Dean Williams who was out for several months is coming back to fitness now at the right time, likewise Luke Dennison, so we have players who have missed out at various stages of the season back and who are now chomping at the bit to be involved.

“We had Ali Coote back in the team on Friday and he did really well. Kris Twardek, Declan McDaid and John O’Sullivan are pushing hard too. John has come on in recent games and has had positive impacts, and Paddy is back fit this week too.

“So it’s the business end of the season, injuries have cleared up, and everyone is gunning to have a really big push between now and the end of the year.”


Bohemians have a full squad to choose from, with Paddy Kirk having recovered from an ankle injury.

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