Preview: UCD v Bohemians


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Thursday October 12, 2023, UCD Bowl

Declan Devine says Bohemians need to show their cutting edge if they are to get past UCD in the SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division at Belfield tomorrow.

Bohs come into the game buoyed by Saturday’s Sports Direct FAI Men’s Cup semi-final win away to Galway United, which set up a final date against St Patrick’s Athletic in the Aviva Stadium next month.

But Devine insists all attention has now turned to achieving maximum points between now and end of the league season.

Tomorrow’s game in hand offers his side the opportunity to leapfrog Shelbourne and move back to fourth in the league table.

The make-up of this year’s cup final means that whoever finishes the season in fourth will secure European qualification.

And Devine said: “It is vital that we put the cup to one side now, as fantastic as Saturday was for everybody involved.

“Our focus is firmly on our four remaining league games. We have put so much effort into our league campaign that we cannot look past that, starting with UCD.

“Finishing the league season as strongly as possible is massively important. We have worked hard all year in the league and we want to go now and qualify for Europe through the league.

“That is what we want to achieve and we will be giving everything of ourselves. I know the players, I know the staff and how hard they work. I have no doubt the application and hard work to do that will be there.

Bohs were frustrated by their last trip to the UCD Bowl in April, conceding a late equaliser to draw the game 1-1.

It is a performance that still rankles with Devine, and he wants his players to make amends for it against a UCD side who are still scrapping hard for pride despite already being relegated to the First Division.

He said: “We have to look at it as an opportunity to go out and perform. It’s a venue where we haven’t won this year and we want to put that right. Nothing else right now matters.

“It’s vitally important that we go there with the right mindset and I have no doubt that we will because we have a really strong bunch of players.

“We aren’t the only team to drop points against UCD. Rovers recently went and drew 0-0 with them. It was a game where Rovers dominated but couldn’t find the cutting edge they needed so that must be a lesson to us.

“We have got to go there with a real positive mindset and perform to the levels we are capable of, and move the ball as quickly as we possibly can.

“We have so many creative players in our team that against anybody, we can create problems. That has to be the goal.

“There are no gimmies in this league, so we have to be at it in every game between now and the end of the league campaign.”

Bohs’ resolve was truly tested in Saturday’s semi-final win.

A goal up and taking control of the game, things threatened to suddenly unravel when Kacper Radkowski, an ever-present this season, was inexplicably shown a second yellow card and given his marching orders.

Devine’s men dug deep to see out the game, but Devine could not hide his disappointment for his 22-year-old centre-back, who will now be suspended for the Aviva Stadium showpiece.

He said: “It was a disgusting thing to happen to such a young lad who has played every minute of every game for us this season.

“Not only do I think they weren’t yellow cards, I don’t even think they were fouls. He has only made two challenges in the game and to get two yellow cards and a sending-off for them, I think is just devastating for us and devastating for the boy.

“It is extremely harsh. The boy is absolutely devastated, he is really hurt. He will be a huge loss, and it is a real downer in terms of having our best players available.

“Thankfully Cian Byrne came on and did exceptionally well for us but the boy just didn’t deserve that.

“It was crazy stuff. The way the cards were being flashed about was reckless in my opinion. There wasn’t a bad challenge in the game.

“Neil Doyle is one of my favourite referees in the league.

“He is very experienced, and a very controlled and calm referee. But there was a big prize at stake on Saturday, and the amount of yellow cards was hard to understand.

“We spoke at half-time to the boys who were on yellow cards and told them not to make a second challenge that would give the referee something to think about, and Kacper didn’t make a challenge that should have given any referee something to think about. He didn’t do anything wrong.

“Some players might never have another opportunity to play in an FAI Cup final again, so for Kacper to miss out in this way put a real downer on it. It’s a squad game. One person’s pain is felt by everyone. It was totally needless.”

Despite going down to ten men, Devine was delighted with the resolve of his side who got over the line despite having to play half and hour of normal time and over ten minutes of injury time a man down.

Devine added: “It was a fantastic way to get to the final in a venue that was extremely difficult – the pitch was poor and opposition were a man up for 40 minutes.

“There were a lot of positives, particularly the team spirit and the natural willingness to dig in when we went down to ten men, while still creating opportunities to try and put the game to bed.

“I was absolutely delighted with Dylan Connolly’s contribution, not just the goal. He has been outstanding in recent months and for him to get his first goal, and such an important goal, was exactly what he deserved.

“It is a testament to the work he has put in. It was the perfect finish, and he arrived at the back post at the perfect time after a perfect ball from Johnny Afolabi.

“I also think Krystian Nowak deserves great praise. He was very commanding in the box, and very calm when things were getting a bit crazy towards the end. He really showed his experience.

“Keith Buckley was outstanding too. It was a real Keith Buckley performance. He was an inspiration to everyone around him.

“Calm and in control when he needed to be, and snarling when he needed to be, winning second balls and giving us a platform to play.

“We had a lot of great performers and big characters who dragged us over the line. But that is behind us now, and the aim must be to match that determination and desire in every game between now and the end of the season.”

Team news

Bohemians have no injury concerns going into this game but James McManus is unavailable as he is on international duty with the Ireland U19s.

Website by Simon Alcock