Rossiter is alert to Sligo danger
Keep focus or Aviva dream over warns Bohs defender
BOHEMIANS defender Mark Rossiter has warned his team-mates that Sligo Rovers will punish the Dalymount Park club -- and deprive them of a possible treble -- if they show a lack of focus in the FAI Cup semi-final tonight.
Pat Fenlon's side take on Sligo at Dalymount Park this evening, but some Bohs fans are wondering where the club's priorities should lie over the final weeks of the season, and some supporters have even (quietly) asked if they would take a defeat in the Cup tonight if it meant that the side went on to win the league for a third successive season.
Of course, that league title is still not guaranteed as Bohs need to win both their remaining league matches to be sure, so Rossiter -- one of the longest-serving players at the club -- insists that Bohs will not switch off in the Cup game as they are in sight of a first-ever treble, Bohs having already landed the Setanta Sports Cup this season.
"I know all about Sligo as I'm from the town and I know well what a good side they are," says Rossiter.
"They have been our bogey side over the last while and if we slack off in any way they will punish us.
"You have heard some people say that they would take a defeat in the Cup as long as we win the league, but the players are certainly not thinking that way, far from it.
"Every trophy and medal you get in football is precious, and the Cup is even bigger this season as it's the first final to be played in the new Aviva Stadium, so every single player at Bohs wants to be there for the final next month -- as I know every Sligo Rovers player wants to be there too.
"So we will have a very tough game on our hands tonight and if Sligo sense that we are off focus in any way, they will certainly make us pay," added Rossiter.
The timing of the game has not suited Sligo -- Rovers manager Paul Cook argued that a Friday evening kick-off will result in a smaller travelling support, compared to the large numbers of Sligo fans who would have travelled for a Sunday game, but there's little Sligo can do about that now.
"I've heard around the town that the Sligo fans aren't coming up to Dublin tonight but are waiting for the replay next week, so we'll see about that," says Rossiter, who is bracing himself for some stick from the away fans tonight.
"Sligo will still have a good support up in Dublin for the game and I'm sure that they will give myself and Raff Cretaro, the two Sligo-born lads in the Bohs side, a fair bit of stick. Raff was on the receiving end of some real stick when we played Sligo in the Showgrounds earlier this season -- Sligo people don't like to see players from Sligo playing for anyone else -- but I think we can deal with all that," added Rossiter, who admits to being a fan of Paul Cook's side.
"I think Sligo are very like ourselves.
"They're a good footballing side, they like to get the ball down and pass it and I reckon it will be a great game tonight between two good sides. I hope the neutrals will enjoy it on TV.
"And I think that in Richie Ryan, Sligo have one of the best midfielders in the league.
"I always knew he was a decent player but he has been amazing for them this season and he deserves a lot more praise than he gets."
Confidence and morale are high in the Bohs camp after last Saturday's turn of events which saw Pat Fenlon's side go top of the table for the first time this season.
But in truth Sligo Rovers are the one side in the country that Bohs would rather avoid right now.
Bohs and Sligo, who of course played out that memorable Cup final in 1983, have met 10 times over the last two seasons, with just five wins for the Dublin side.
Paul Cook's side have been in superb form in recent weeks, as Rovers are unbeaten in nine games in all competitions, have won their last four league games in a row, won the EA Sports Cup and reached the semi-final of the FAI Cup.
Last season Sligo went all the way to the final, only to lose out to Sporting Fingal, and this week Sligo captain Ryan admitted that the final defeat in Tallaght Stadium 11 months ago was still a source of angst for his side.
"Winning the League Cup was great but, to be honest, it doesn't make up for losing the FAI Cup final last year," said Ryan.
"The FAI Cup is a much bigger competition and I remember how sick we were after how things turned out at Tallaght Stadium last year.
"We've got the incentive this time that if we can get over Friday we will be in the first final to be at the new Aviva Stadium."
Sligo head for Dublin with a strong squad, the only absentees being long-term injury victims Richard Brush and Mauro Almeida.
3BOHEMIANS v SLIGO ROVERS, RTE2, KO 8.05