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Dublin: -2 °C Sunday 18 March, 2018

Bohs boss wants level playing field: 'Derry and Cork don't need any further advantage over us'

Keith Long is unhappy with the scheduling of fixtures.

Bohemians manager Keith Long.
Bohemians manager Keith Long.
Image: Gary Carr/INPHO

KEITH LONG HAS criticised the scheduling of SSE Airtricity League fixtures as his Bohemians side prepare to welcome Derry City to Dalymount Park this evening.

Bohs played out a 1-1 draw away to Limerick on Saturday, whereas tonight’s opponents played 24 hours earlier. Derry suffered a 2-1 defeat to Sligo Rovers at the Showgrounds on Friday.

Long’s side will be on the road this Friday when they travel south to face champions Cork City, who were in action last night in Sligo.

The Gypsies boss is unhappy that the next two teams they face will have the benefit of an extra day of rest and recovery, particularly given that Bohs are operating with a part-time set-up.

“This midweek round of fixtures has not favoured us,” said Long. “We find ourselves playing Derry with 24 hours less recovery and preparation time than our opponents, who played in Sligo on Friday night with us playing down in Limerick on Saturday. It will also see us travel to Cork on Friday with another 24 hours less recovery and preparation time than Cork.

“I would like to see more of a level playing field. If there are back-to-back fixtures, they should be Friday/Monday for all teams or Saturday/Tuesday for all teams, irrespective of clubs’ preferred night to play home games. You cannot underestimate the value of 24 hours when it comes to recovery.

“Derry and Cork don’t need any further advantage over us — they already have one by being full-time. Their recovery with their players is more controlled than ours and to compete on the scheduling of these games, in my view, hands them another advantage and is unfair, especially when you factor in that we are part-time.”

Taking on a Derry side who have lost their two Premier Division games so far in 2018 — both 1-2 away to Waterford and Sligo Rovers – Bohs expect to welcome Keith Ward and Kevin Devaney back from injury. They’ll be hoping to record back-to-back home wins, having started their campaign by coming from behind to secure a 3-1 victory over Shamrock Rovers.

Smoke covers the pitch after fans let off flares Dalymount Park plays host to the meeting of Bohemians and Derry City tonight. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

“This is going to be another really testing challenge for us,” Long said. “We face a Derry side who finished fourth last season, have some excellent players and have one of the league’s canniest managers.

“Our home support was fantastic last time out, the noise and colour generated by our fans was amazing and the players could really feed off that. It was great to see Dalymount packed to the rafters and we hope we can generate the type of interest there was around the Rovers game for all of our home games.

“There is a lot of really good work being done in the community and behind the scenes at Bohs. We want to capitalise on that by delivering a team that plays for the club, plays for the jersey, plays for its community and be one that the fans can be proud of.”

With Derry still waiting to pick up their first points of the season, manager Kenny Shiels has admitted that there’s pressure on his players to get off the mark. The Candystripes’ track record at Dalymount Park under Shiels is encouraging. They’ve won all four games they’ve played against Bohs at the venue since he took charge.

“There’s no point making excuses; we just haven’t been good enough so far. The players have to step up to the plate and they know that,” said Shiels, who has concerns over the fitness of defenders Conor McDermott and Armin Aganovic. “We do have a good record down there but they are one of the top sides in the league. What has gone on in the past will count for very little on Tuesday night.”

Tonight’s other game is a meeting of Dundalk and Limerick at Oriel Park. After playing out goalless draws with Bray Wanderers and Shamrock Rovers so far, Dundalk will be keen to get up and running, but Limerick manager Tommy Barrett is relatively confident in his side following a 1-0 win in Sligo and a 1-1 draw at home to Bohs.

Stephen Kenny before the game Stephen Kenny's Dundalk drew with Shamrock Rovers in Tallaght on Friday. Source: Ciaran Culligan/INPHO

“I think we can go anywhere and get a result. There’s no point in going out if you don’t think you’re going to get a result,” Barrett said. He added: “Dundalk are a very good side. They probably just haven’t clicked yet. We’re hoping they don’t click too much on Tuesday night. But in saying that, we’re going to get better as well. We’ll give it a lash up there.”

Limerick say they have injury doubts over strikers Connor Ellis and Danny Morrissey. Dundalk defender Sean Hoare has recovered from a hamstring problem, but midfielders Stephen O’Donnell and John Mountney remain sidelined.

Dundalk boss Stephen Kenny said: “It was a good performance against Shamrock Rovers on Friday night. We just didn’t take our chances on the night. We created a few chances and were unlucky not to win. We have to get ourselves back on track on Tuesday night. We are at home to Limerick and have to raise it again. We have to raise our level and hopefully get the victory.”

Premier Division

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– Additional reporting by Paul Fennessy and Andrew Cunneen

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