Preview: Dundalk v Bohemians


SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday October 27 2023, Oriel Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine says Bohemians must knuckle down and treat each of their three remaining games this season as cup finals as they come to terms with losing inspirational captain Keith Buckley to a lengthy spell on the sidelines.

With Shelbourne and tomorrow’s opposition Dundalk breathing down Bohs’ necks, Devine knows his side need maximum points from the final two league games to qualify for Europe through the league ahead of the FAI Cup final against St Patrick’s Athletic.

That task was made all the more difficult following the confirmation that he will be without his valued skipper for the foreseeable future.

There was great concern when Buckley uncharacteristically went down in clear discomfort during Bohs’ 2-0 defeat to St Pat’s last Friday.

And those worst fears were confirmed the following day when scans confirmed that anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament damage would rule Buckley out for several months.

Devine said: “It is devastating news for us. It was a tough weekend. When you see Keith Buckley stay down and then hobble off, you know something serious is wrong because he’s simply not a player to do that.

“I knew at the time that it looked very serious, and when we got him looked at and scanned on Saturday morning, he rang me straight away and it was devastating for him.

“It is very hard on Keith but on the whole group too because what he has brought back to the club this year has been invaluable.

“He is an integral part of the group, not only because of his incredible leadership qualities but also his playing qualities as well, which get overlooked at times. He is very good on the ball, his awareness of danger, and everything he brings.

“We had a good chat as a group on Monday, and we certainly owe Keith Buckley a result this week, and we owe it to the club.

“What I will say is that the one thing you are guaranteed with Keith Buckley is that he will be back. Bigger, stronger and better.

“His mindset is as strong as anybody I have ever worked with. His attitude to the game, and to the club and his team-mates, is second to none.

“He is already thinking about when he can come back. He is putting plans in place already in terms of his body and his conditioning.

“That is incredible, that he hasn’t let the pain and hurt creep into him. He has been very positive, and it is important now that as a club that we give him the support, treatment and care that he deserves and that is required.

“He is an inspiration to so many, and it is our turn to get the club over the line in our next three games, which for me are three cup finals.”

Buckley’s loss was compounded with defeat to St Pat’s last week, a result that has increased the importance of tomorrow’s trip to Oriel Park, with both the host and Shels looking to leapfrog Devine’s side and into the European positions.

It was a particularly frustrating result given that Bohs bossed the first half, and the early exchanges of the second period, but failed to find the back of the net before defensive errors left them completely empty-handed.

Devine said: “We played very well at times last week, but we didn’t take our chances, and got punished for two defensive lapses.

“Everyone was really devastated, both with the Bucko news but also that we lost such an important game having been so dominant in parts.

“We now have a chance to rectify that, and we want to make sure we get maximum points but to do that we need to defend and attack so much better than we did last week.

“I cannot fault our effort but when we present ourselves with chances and when we have been as creative as we have been, the final product has to be better.

“To be fair, last week, the St Pat’s goalkeeper made two or three really top saves. But I believe we have goals in us. We are a very attack-minded team and it is up to us to go out there and show that.

“We now have three cup finals coming up, starting with this one. The players are really hungry.

“We know it is going to be difficult as Dundalk have the second-best home record in the league this year, just in front of ourselves.

“But we have prepared well all week. It’s like a cup game. A defeat or a draw is no good to us. We need to go and win.

“It’s a game we are looking forward to though, it is not a game that should bring us fear. Our performance levels have to be right, we have to be ruthless in both boxes, and do everything in our power to come away with three points.

“We want to get over the line for everyone at the club. We have three cup finals. We have two opportunities to get to Europe but we want to try and make sure that, before the cup final, we are already in Europe through the league.”

Team news

Bohemians are without captain Keith Buckley (knee).

Website by Simon Alcock