Devine looking for back to back wins

29th February 2024

Bohs host Dundalk tomorrow night

Declan Devine has challenged Bohemians to build on the discipline, self-belief and togetherness they showed last week when Dundalk provide the opposition at Dalymount Park tomorrow night.

Jordan Flores, captain in the continued absence of Keith Buckley, was the star of the show when Bohs came away from Richmond Park with all three points against St Patrick’s Athletic last Friday, leading by example in an unfamiliar role in the heart of defence and grabbing the winner from the spot.

Devine was full of praise for his team, but says that pats on the back are in the past now and the task for his players is to show they can deliver back-to-back performances.

He said: “For me, Jordan Flores is one of the best midfield players in the country. When you take him a step back into a deeper position, because of his game intelligence and knowledge, he sees things happening in front of them. The experience that he has gained throughout his career, he smells danger.

“People perceive Jordan to be an attacking midfield player. But when I work with Jordan on a daily basis, his knowledge and understanding of the game really puts him in the top bracket of players across the pitch. He is only as good as the people around him too, and he had brilliant protection in front of him in Brian McManus and Adam McDonnell, and alongside him in Paddy Kirk and Cian Byrne.

“That is key to us, that our units are comfortable playing with different personnel, and that if you are having a bit of a tough time, there is somebody who will give you a dig out. Jordan Flores was that man last week, and it was very fitting that he got the winner because it was a ten out of ten performance.

“It was a very positive team performance in many ways. It was a performance full of discipline, self-belief and togetherness. There was a real honesty about the group.

“Right through the spine of the team, there were big performances – James Clarke, Jordan Flores, Cian Byrne. Kacper Chorazka was very calm, and Adam McDonnell had an outstanding game as did Brian McManus.

“We also had real comfort in Paddy Kirk and Michael Lilander defending brilliantly well, and a real threat from the wings in Dylan Connolly and Dayle Rooney.

“But we know it is just one game – a really positive performance away from home – and that we have to draw a line under last week. Those pats on the back are gone now, we have to do it again this week.

“The sign of a really good team is back-to-back performances. I have no doubt we are capable of it. We go into this game having prepared very well this week. It’s been fantastic having the new signings in. I thought last week that Filip Piszczek had a huge impact when he came on for Sten Reinkort.

“When we get these boys fully up to speed, I think we have some really brilliant additions to the squad. What we have now is a real depth in quality and serious competition for places and you need that in weeks like this where we are heading into three games in eight days.”

The first of those sees Stephen O’Donnell’s Lilywhites provide the opposition at Dalymount tomorrow. Devine is clear that they will pose a huge threat, and says he is not reading too much into their defeat to Galway United last week.

He said: “I have been very impressed by Dundalk. I watched them in pre-season, I watched the game against Shamrock Rovers where I felt they were outstanding. I thought last week that they were very unfortunate to lose against Galway United. They had huge chances and there were periods of the game where they were well on top. The game could have been 3-3 or 4-4.

“I’ve no doubt that they are coming here to have a go. We really have to be at our best. I know I say that a lot, but this is going to be a really tough game and the players know that.”

Devine was frustrated by the scenes last week that saw flares thrown on the pitch and endanger his players.

The club has been sanctioned by the FAI as a result, with fans banned from Monday’s game away to Drogheda United, and Devine said that lessons must be learned to ensure there is no recurrence of such incidents.

Devine added: “From our point of view, we are all going to suffer on Monday night by not having our away support there. Players, staff and fellow supporters, everyone suffers. It is something we obviously don’t want to happen again.

“But what I will say is this. From the day and hour that I came to this club, when Dalymount Park is bouncing, or any away section is bouncing with Bohs fans, that rapport between the players and supporters is second to none. It is worth points to this club, and is something quite unique to this club.

“We got across the line last week at the end because of the backing of our supporters. But what happened earlier in the game isn’t on, and I think everyone accepts that. It’s just not on – that a player gets hit and gets hurt.

“But when mistakes are made, the most important thing is that people learn from them. I know the support that our fans have given for many years has meant to the players of this club and that’s what I want to see continue.

“You only have to look back a week previously to the display that was done for James Talbot. That, for me, shows the decency and togetherness of people at this club, and the rapport that our members and supporters have with our players.

“That display made me feel emotional walking out onto the pitch at Dalymount Park – knowing that our fans love and care so much for James Talbot that they would go to that effort to show it. I know it meant the world to the players too.

“So, when every one of us is pulling in the same direction, and the fans are behind the players and the players are doing everything they can to send the fans home happy, this is a really special club.

“We can’t let one night of bad decisions change that. We don’t need bad decisions like that again so I would say to the fans not to dwell on it but, yes, we must learn from it.

“Our supporters have been brilliant and just need to take a moment to regroup, to learn from what happened, and to recognise that we are all in this together.

“If we keep pulling in the one direction with everyone behind each other, then we can have a really good year together. We want to go and make an impression on and off the pitch. I want the opposition to know that, not only are Bohs a good team but they have the best fans in the country too.”

Team news

Adam McDonnell is a doubt with a knock. Keith Buckley (knee), Rob Cornwall (knee) and James McManus (foot) remain out.