SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Dalymount Park, Friday 27 June,7.45pm

Bohemians are looking for their first home win and Athlone Town for their first away points when the two sides meet at Dalymount on Friday, writes BRIAN TRENCH.

Both teams had high-scoring wins in their last league matches and Bohemians achieved their first successive victories, with one each in cup and league.

A win on Friday could, depending on results for other teams, move Bohemians one or two places up the table.

“That’s what we need to aim at and keep building on. Athlone got a great result against Drogheda before the break, and they were unlucky against Dundalk. They’ve managed to turn around their league form,” said Bohemian manager Owen Heary.


“So, it’s important that we are well tuned in, and that we do our job and aren’t relying on things happening elsewhere.”

Heary took almost as much satisfaction from the clean sheet as from the five goals against Bray two weeks ago. That decisive victory was also achieved without three key players, captain and vice-captain Dave Mulcahy and Derek Pender, and Steven Beattie, Man of the Match in the previous week’s cup tie.

“We went into the Bray game very positive after the cup result against Limerick. We controlled the game from start to finish. We got into them high up the pitch. With some players out, others came in and stepped up to the plate.”

The manager commended his players’ performances from Kevin Devaney and hat-trick scorer Dinny Corcoran up front, to Eoin Wearen and Roberto Lopes who were “excellent in the middle”, to Jack Memery who returned to left back after a long time, and to Dean Delany who made a “tremendous save” at 2-0.

Heary is focused on securing and maintaining at least a mid-table position for Bohemians. He is not setting points targets for groups of matches but rather seeking to get maximum return from each match as it comes up.

“The target this week is to beat Athlone. We’ll take one game at a time. I know it’s a cliché but we have to do it this way, with the position we’re in. But if we can get a few wins, it could turn into a very good season for us.”

The break in the league campaign has brought its gains and losses, according to Heary. It allowed some players to take a holiday but, equally, it exposed them to renewed injury risks as they returned to intensive training after a week out.

Anto Murphy (hamstring) and Steven Beattie (ankle) face late fitness tests, as do Derek Pender (quad) and Dave Mulcahy (hamstring) who are still recovering from pre-break injuries.

Like other football fans, the players have been absorbed in the World Cup finals and discussing the various tactics and strategies applied. Heary has noted the shift from the preferred approach of recent years, holding the ball at length and building up slowly, to a more direct movement of the ball from back to front.

“There’s more emphasis on attack. They’re going the quickest route to goal and playing the pressure game. It’s interesting to watch and see the different scenarios,” he commented.

“Players are looking at these things and they can see, for example, how Chile are pressing high up the park.”

On a rest day in the World Cup Heary is hoping for Bohemian fans to turn out in big numbers to help the team secure that elusive home win and build new momentum for an improved second-half of the season.

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