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'We can choose to feel sorry for ourselves or we can go again. I believe in the dressing room'

Keith Long’s Bohemians exited the FAI Cup with a semi-final defeat to Shamrock Rovers last night.

Bohemians manager Keith Long.
Bohemians manager Keith Long.
Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

KEITH LONG SAID Bohemians failed to give a proper account of themselves during Friday night’s FAI Cup semi-final defeat to Shamrock Rovers, but remained adamant that his side would bounce back.

Graham Burke opened the scoring with a powerful header inside five minutes at Dalymount Park, with Aaron Greene sealing Rovers’ passage with a second goal 10 minutes from time.

Bohemians had star forward Danny Mandroiu sent off in the second half for a rash lunge on Sean Kavanagh, but the hosts failed to produce any real meaningful chances either side of half-time to properly test their rivals.

“We didn’t play well,” Long admitted after full-time. “We’ve conceded a bad goal from a set play. It probably was a goal kick and that decision went against us, but you have to defend it better than we did.

“So we were up against it at 1-0, the game really goes against us in the second half having a man sent off and conceding the second goal. It was probably comfortable for Rovers then after.”

The Gypsies boss has enjoyed an incredible record against Rovers in recent seasons. Heading into Friday’s semi-final, Bohemians had tasted defeat in just one of eight previous meetings with the Hoops — until recently going two years unbeaten in Dublin derbies.

derek-pender-dejected-after-the-game Bohemians captain Derek Pender dejected at the final whistle. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Long said his side failed to replicate the same level of performance as previous recent outings against Rovers. Andre Wright and Ryan Graydon produced efforts in the first half and a Keith Ward free-kick late on also came close, but Rovers goalkeeper Alan Mannus remained largely untested.

We didn’t play well enough tonight. We didn’t do the things we normally do and what we’re capable of. We’re disappointed that we haven’t performed, so it’s a tough one to take. We’ve got a lot of young guys in the dressing room that will learn from tonight’s experience. It’s not a nice place to be when you lose a semi-final.

“I don’t know whether it was the occasion — it shouldn’t be. We’ve had plenty of big nights here, plenty of big crowds here. The boys enjoy playing here, it just went against us tonight.”

Bohemians were without a number of key players like Dinny Corcoran, Andy Lyons, Cristian Magerusan and Darragh Leahy for Friday’s semi-final, but Long said their injury setbacks should not be used as an excuse for their FAI Cup exit.

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roberto-lopes-jack-byrne-and-aaron-mceneff-celebrate Shamrock Rovers will face either Dundalk or Sligo Rovers in this year's FAI Cup final. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“We can look at our long injury list and use it as an excuse,” he said. “Ultimately tonight we haven’t played well enough to beat Shamrock Rovers to be in a cup final. So it’s a question now of what we’re going to do about it in terms of the rest of the season. We’ve got four games and we’ve got to fight every inch of the way to try and get into Europe.”

Bohemians have occupied third place for most of this season, but were overtaken by Derry City following their impressive 4-0 victory over Cork City last night. Should either Dundalk and Shamrock Rovers win the FAI Cup, fourth place would be enough to secure European football.

Long says there is still a lot at stake for his side between now and the end of the season. Bohemians have now suffered FAI Cup exits at the semi-final stage in successive campaigns, but bringing Europa League football back to Phibsborough would be a massive achievement for a club on a limited budget compared to their rivals.

“Listen, we’ve got four games left and we’re going to try and win every one of them. They’re all cup finals between now and the end of the season. We didn’t play well tonight and [in other games against Rovers] we have played well, we’ve gone toe-to-toe with them.

“Tonight we’ve lost and we’ve come up short. We lacked quality and conceded a bad goal from a set play. You can’t give goals like that away. You’ve got to keep a clean sheet and ask questions of their goalkeeper. Unfortunately We didn’t do any of those things tonight.

Long added: “We can choose to feel sorry for ourselves or we can choose to go again next week, and that’s what we’ll have to do. I believe in the dressing room, I believe there’s character in the dressing room and that we have the strength to bounce back from tonight. It’s disappointing, particularly because it’s against Rovers and the rivalry we have between the clubs.

“But ultimately at the start of the year — with the turnover of staff, with the changes we’ve made, with the new faces we’ve brought in — we’re still in a good position. Derry have leapfrogged us in the table tonight but there’s loads of twists and turns between now and the end of the season. We’ve got to go again.”

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Aaron Gallagher

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