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'He’s a rival now so there will be no sentiment involved tonight, that’s for sure'

Bohs host Shelbourne tonight as Ian Morris returns to his former club.

Keith Long and Ian Morris at eir Sport's announcement of their upcoming soccer coverage.
Keith Long and Ian Morris at eir Sport's announcement of their upcoming soccer coverage.
Image: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

A DUBLIN DERBY at Dalymount with an added splash of red, as Shelbourne face Bohemians [KO 8pm] in the Premier Division for the first time since 2013. 

Not that the seven-year hiatus has bred too much unfamiliarity. Ian Morris retired as a Bohs player to take up the manager’s gig at Shels last year, also giving up his role as Head of Youth Development at Dalymount Park in the process. 

He has since recruited Craig Sexton and Aindriu Conroy from the Bohs’ youth set-up as his assistant manager and S&C coach respectively. 

“He’s done a great job so far, as he got them promoted as champions in his first season”, Bohs boss Keith Long says of Morris. “Ian was an experienced and valued member of our squad, and was our Head Of Youth and did a good job. He’s at Shelbourne, he’s a rival and a competitor now, so there will be no sentiment involved tonight, that’s for sure. From either side.

“Ian has come back to the club in terms of recruitment, to recruit his own staff, so we’re doing a lot of good stuff at Bohemians. That’s maybe a backhanded compliment to us and the people we have at the club.

“I think it’s natural that people want to improve and progress their careers.” 

Morris has made a strong start to life in the Premier Division, winning two games out of three to leave Shels level with third-placed Bohs. 

“Happy with the start, yeah”, says Morris. “You can look at the table all you like at the moment, but the reality is that there are 96 points to play for so it’s premature to start thinking about what ifs. 

“I think you’re naive if staying up in your first year isn’t your main goal. The other side to it is, there’s no real ceiling to our ambition. We want to win games; every time we go out we want to win. The more you win you can look at this and that, but this league can be ruthless. You look at teams who didn’t win any of their first three games, they pick up a win and now they are thee points off third.” 

This isn’t his first reunion with his old employers: Shels led last year’s FAI Cup quarter-final at Dalymount Park 2-0 only to concede thrice in the closing eight minutes to lose 3-2. Not that those ghosts are dampening his enthusiasm for what awaits tonight. 

“Really really exciting. I know a lot of people there, and I still know a couple of players there. That’s the nature of this league, there’s a lot of overlap. But it’s a sellout in Dalymount, and the atmosphere will be fantastic.” 

Shels will be without Dan Byrne for tonight’s game, while they are hopeful Jaze Kabia will be available. Bohemains, meanwhile, remain without Dinny Corcoran and goalkeeper James Talbot but will have Danny Grant available after his substitute appearance in last week’s 2-0 defeat to Derry City. 

With two wins from four, Long says Bohs’ start to the season and has been mixed. While he believes they deserved a draw against Shamrock Rovers in the teeth of Storm Dennis on the opening day, he has called for a major improvement on the Derry performance. 

“Football owes you nothing, football will give you nothing: you have to earn everything you get. We have to earn it all over again this year. And if we look back on last week, Derry away wasn’t good enough from our perspective. We need to improve on that and if we don’t we will be beaten tonight by Shelbourne.

“We have raised expectations at the club a little bit and given supporters hope. The worst thing you can do is to give supporters hope and then not deliver on it. We are on a sticky wicket this year as we overachieved last year, we came third in the league and there are no divine rights; you have to earn it every time you step over the line in this league.” 

On TV: eir Sport 7.30pm

Premier Division Fixtures 

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First Division Fixtures

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Gavin Cooney

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