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'I was up watching my young fella train with the U8s and all the parents are saying to me ‘Bohs this week''

Having both lost on the opening night of the season, the two Dublin rivals lock horns at Tallaght Stadium.

Stephen Bradley against Conor Powell of Bohemians back in 2009.
Stephen Bradley against Conor Powell of Bohemians back in 2009.
Image: Donall Farmer/INPHO

AS SOMEONE WHO played and managed in derbies between Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians, Stephen Bradley has a good sense of what the fixture is all about.

The former midfielder featured for the Hoops in a 3-0 victory over their great rivals en route to the Premier Division title back in 2010. Last season, he picked up his first league win of the spell as interim boss by seeing off the Gypsies 3-1 at home.

Now, as permanent head coach, the 32-year-old is aiming to get this campaign up-and-running at Tallaght Stadium tonight (7.30pm, live on RTE2) after the disappointment of an opening day defeat to Dundalk.

It’s a special occasion for fans of both clubs and one that the players should dream of playing in, according to Bradley.

“Leading up to derby day, everyone at the club is talking about it,” he told The42. “I was up watching my young fella train last night with the U8s and all the parents and coaches are saying to me ‘Bohs this week’. It’s everywhere you go.

“It’s just a different game. As a player, you knew that and you would feel it when you came out to warm up. The crowd was bigger, there was more of an atmosphere and you knew they would be up for it.

It’s one of those feelings that you love as a player as it’s like a league decider or a cup final. It feels like a really big game and as a player if you don’t want to be part of that well then you shouldn’t be playing.”

Killian Brennan with Ismail Akinade Ismahil Akinade facing Rovers last season. He misses tonight's game after undergoing surgery on Wednesday. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

While the Hoops narrowly went down to the Lilywhites at Oriel Park, Bohs suffered a heavy loss at the hands of Derry City in Phibsborough.

“I think the scoreline flattered Derry a bit,” added Bradley, who also believes form goes out the window in the derby. “I don’t think it was a 4-1 game. They made two mistakes and got punished and it looked worse than it was.

“You can watch them against any other team, but against us it’s different. They will come and run that extra bit longer and harder. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s a fact.

“They do it against us and we have to make sure we’re ready because if we’re not they’ll turn us over.”

Rovers are buoyed by the fact that they have a clean bill of health for the second week running, meaning Graham Burke is the only absentee after his sending off seven days ago.

Captain Ronan Finn is hoping to start after coming on as a second-half substitute against his former club, and there is bound to be focus on Roberto Lopes — who recently made the switch across the Liffey having skippered Bohs last season.

Keith Long’s side haven’t been nearly as lucky as their opponents on the injury front. Midfielder Eoin Wearan looks set for six months on the sidelines due to an anterior cruciate ligament injury, while striker Ismahil Akinade is expected to miss two months after having surgery to remove his spleen in order to rectify a blood platelets count issue.

“The game has come early,” says the Bohs boss. “It’s a big one for both clubs. Rovers have spent a lot of money assembling a squad that is expected to challenge, so there’s pressure there too.

“We’ve both started the season with a defeat. There’s pressure on both teams even though we’re only one game in.

We can pretend it’s just another game but we all know that’s not true. But it’s a great game and occasion for us to go and try bounce back.

“We just have to go out, focus on our own game and deliver a performance.”

Bradley predicts a frantic pace to the game early on but says he wants to see his team, who will be clear favourites to pick up three points, to get the ball down and string together a few more passes.

“I expect it to start like that,” he replies when asked whether he thinks it will be a high-tempo affair. ”We’re a better team than what we showed on Friday night and that was the pleasing thing to me — that we walked away having done okay without playing anywhere near what we can play.

“We’ve got to play with that intensity. I’ve signed lads that can play football so there’s no point in us not playing. On Friday, we have to match the fight and then get the ball down. We didn’t do that until Ronan (Finn) and Graham (Burke) came on.”

Predictions

Every week, we’re giving readers the chance to take us on in predicting the Premier Division results. After Week 1, the scoreline reads The42 4-3 The Reader. Next up is Jason O’Connor from Wexford… 

The Reader (Jason O’Connor) 

  • Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians — Shamrock Rovers win
  • Bray Wanderers v Finn Harps — Bray Wanderers win
  • Cork City v Galway United — Cork City win
  • Derry City v Limerick — Draw
  • Drogheda United v St Patrick’s Athletic — St Pat’s win
  • Sligo Rovers v Dundalk — Dundalk win

The42 (Ben Blake) 

  • Shamrock Rovers v Bohemians — Draw
  • Bray Wanderers v Finn Harps — Bray Wanderers win
  • Cork City v Galway United — Cork City win
  • Derry City v Limerick — Derry City win
  • Drogheda United v St Patrick’s Athletic — Draw
  • Sligo Rovers v Dundalk — Dundalk win

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Ben Blake

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