Bohemians v Dundalk - SSE Airtricity Men's Premier Division

SSE Airtricity Men’s Premier Division
Friday November 3rd 2023, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Declan Devine is bitterly disappointed with how Bohemians have slipped down the table in recent weeks but has called on his side to pull together as they still have an opportunity to write themselves into the history books.

Defeats at home to St Patrick’s Athletic and away to Dundalk saw Bohs slip out of the top four and down to sixth.

Devine’s side now rely on an unlikely combination of results elsewhere to break back into the top four. All they can do now is to finish the league season as strongly as they can in that hope, and aim for glory in the FAI Cup final next week.

Devine said: “Our final league position is no longer in our hands but we are still in with a shout, so we have to take care of our own results and ensure we finish strongly.

“The last couple of weeks have been bitterly disappointing because we have put so much effort into our league campaign. We have spoken openly and honestly about points that we have left behind this year.

“There have been a lot of twists and turns. To think that 14 days ago we were targeting a win with the aim of moving up to second place, and then two defeats down the line we are in sixth fighting for our lives trying to finish fourth. That is obviously a bitter blow for everyone.

“But the reality for us is that European qualification is still very much in our hands, and we can’t lose sight of that. We are still one game away from qualifying for Europe through the Cup despite not being where we wanted to be in the league.

“We certainly feel we have left points behind us in the league. It has been difficult. We are 12 points better off than we were last season, and hopefully we can make that 15 against Cork City. But it’s absolutely not where we want to be.

“A club of this magnitude has got to be pushing for the top four. There is no shying away from that. It’s my job to achieve that, so there is no hiding place.”

Despite that disappointment, Devine believes in his side’s ability, effort and willingness to dust themselves down and put those set-backs behind them.

He said: “We have a massive couple of weeks ahead of us. We have an opportunity to bring a major trophy back to the club for the first time in 15 years.

“The one thing all year for me has been the togetherness of everyone at the club. There is a real unity and willingness to succeed. Yes we have had our disappointments in the last two weeks, but you only have a chance of winning things when everyone is together pulling in the same direction.

“The first thing I was told when I came in was that people at this club wanted effort, willingness and desire. I think we have had that over the course of the year, but have come up short in our last two games.

“We can’t do anything about past results, we have to accept them. But what we can do is understand that we have two games left, and an opportunity to achieve something for the club that has not been achieved in a very long time, and I know the fans will be right behind us as we try to do that.”

They must do that without Keith Buckley, who faces a lengthy time on the sidelines, and Devine has challenged his players to step up and show leadership in the absence of their captain.

He added: “We are so disappointed that we have lost Bucko but we have players in the group who aren’t kids, players in the group who have been involved in football for a very long time.

“We have players who have won things, and players who know the last two results, and particularly our performance in Dundalk, have not been acceptable. We have players who need to step up. But we have players who I believe are big-match players.

“There is no point looking back, and we cannot afford to. It is a terrible blow not to have Bucko for these games. It’s unfortunate for him personally and for us as a team. But he will be very much involved right through. His know-how and his ability to communicate and talk to players will be invaluable.”

Team news

Keith Buckley (knee) is out and Kacper Radkowski (foot) is a doubt.

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