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'He’s a proper centre-forward when he plays in that manner' - Praise for Irish football's most prolific striker

Bohemians’ Georgie Kelly scored his 12th goal of the season on Friday night.

Bohs’ Georgie Kelly celebrates scoring.
Bohs’ Georgie Kelly celebrates scoring.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

IT IS JUST past the halfway point of the season and if you were to conduct a vote on the player of the season so far, Bohemians’ Georgie Kelly would surely be a standout contender.

The Donegal native looked sharp and opened the scoring in Friday night’s 3-2 win over St Patrick’s Athletic.

Aside from the goal, Kelly, with his pace and positional intelligence, caused Bohs’ Dublin rivals problems regularly.

The 24-year-old now has 12 for the season overall and sits comfortably atop the Premier Division scoring charts.

So not for the first time, it appears Long and his coaching staff have galvanised a player who was somewhat overlooked elsewhere.

37 league goals in 68 games for UCD earned him a move to Stephen Kenny’s Dundalk in 2018.

While he did manage 14 goals in 48 appearances for the Lilywhites, he struggled to fully establish himself at Oriel Park and his stock had seemingly fallen before joining Bohs.

This season, though, he has been a revelation at times, netting a hat-trick against Dundalk back in May, while he hit four in last month’s demolition of Drogheda.

Bohs in general have been particularly prolific at Dalymount Park. Since the start of May, they have a record of 21 goals scored and three conceded on home turf — form that has helped them recover substantially from a disappointing start to the season.

And Long offered praise to Kelly and others following Friday’s victory.

“Georgie has been a real handful. He’s a proper centre-forward when he plays in that manner.

“I thought Ali and Andy (Lyons) down the right-hand side were excellent.

“Ali is technically a really good player. He looks after the ball really well. He’s powerful, he’s strong.

“He has got a good passing range, he sees things quickly. His combinations with Georgie and Andy, I think we looked good going down that side.

“If you look at the opposite side, I think we can get a little bit better with Tyreke (Wilson) and Liam (Burt) there.

“But we’ve got threats and I think that’s why you are seeing that goal record here, 21 and three against because we’ve got attacking players who want to get at defenders.”

Asked about Burt specifically, the player who arrived from Celtic before the start of the season and scored a well-taken third goal, Long added:

“He was a mixed bag tonight in terms of his performance. We felt he was an outlet like he was in Inchicore previously, some of his decision making tonight and end product wasn’t on the money. He has that quality, he has contributed with assists and goals over the season, he backs himself, he has absolute confidence in his own ability, he whipped in a cross, at times I felt he was trying to beat his man rather than giving us a bit of certainty by crossing the ball into the box. He flashed one across the face of the box before his goal. But I thought it was brilliant execution, on the run, at pace, he caught it cleanly, it was a brilliant goal.”

But for all their attacking prowess, the Boss boss admitted the recent departure of striker Thomas Oluwa has left them lacking depth up front.

“If anything was to happen to Georgie we would be a little bit short in that area,” he said.

“We missed Stephen Mallon again on Friday night which is a source of frustration for us because Stephen has got massive potential and ability.

“His Achilles heel is his strength, his power, his pace and his speed.

“He broke down a little bit with a muscle injury, a heavy tackle late in the Drogheda game. That’s holding him back a little bit.

“We’ve got some good players coming through.

“We’d Robbie Mahon on the bench who stepped in for Promise [Omochere, who was withdrawn shortly before kick-off due to a quad injury].

“We are keeping our mind and options open to see if we can do anything in the window.”

And while Long was happy with his own side’s performance, the Bohs boss was critical of Pat’s for their ill-discipline, with both Lee Desmond and Ian Bermingham sent off for the visitors after picking up second yellows towards the end of the game.

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“We’ve played well and we won and discipline was really important for us,” Long said. “Stating the obvious but we’ve had one yellow card and two red cards and a number of others can count themselves lucky to stay on the pitch.”

Asked about an off-the-ball incident that left Bohs defender Andy Lyons down and clutching his face, Long added:

“Well, listen I can’t comment on that, I haven’t seen it. I think there were other things that happened on the pitch that haven’t been seen either.”

Bohs’ next match is away to Stjarnan FC of Iceland in the Europa League on Thursday, before the return leg the following week at the Aviva Stadium where up to 6,000 supporters will be permitted to attend.

“We don’t know a huge amount about them.

“Rovers beat them a couple of years back. But that obviously means nothing.

“They’ve got good players. They are an experienced team. I think the average age of their team that started last Monday was 28.6. So they’ve lots of miles in their legs and experience.

“They’ve also got some really good technical players.

“It will be difficult. You can’t quite judge on video the level of the opposition and tempo that they play at.

“We have to go over there and see how we go a little bit. Find our way into the game and make sure we play at the levels we can play at.

“If we do that, hopefully, we can come away with a good performance and result.”

Originally published at 06.15

About the author:

Paul Fennessy

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