Solid defensive record is just a bonus for Bohs man Derek
AFTER an unexpectedly positive start to 2015 for his Bohemians side, the only regret for Derek Prendergast is that he and his fellow defenders didn't build a clean sheet bonus into their contracts.
And as they head north to play Derry City tonight looking for the win which would move them into the top three, Prendergast insists that Keith Long's side - who were 150/1 outsiders for the title at the start of the season - have every intention of staying at the business end of the table.
This time last year, Prendergast was part of an Athlone Town side which leaked goals and were relegated with a whimper. But nine games into the season at his new club and Bohs have the joint-best clean sheets record in the league (7).
"I think our keeper, Dean Delany, is the only one who has a clean sheet bonus in his contract, the rest of us were suckers as we didn't look for it," jokes Prendergast, a Cabra lad who joined his local club Bohs this year after spells with Bray, Drogheda and Athlone.
"There's no real secret to it, just a lot of hard work from a solid back five, and we also have a midfield who work their socks off for the team. So it's a joint effort, we're not conceding goals, only Dundalk and Pats have scored against us, long may it continue."
Last season was a disaster for Prendergast at Athlone, who lost the first 10 games in a row. "It was a horrible feeling to have such a long run without a win, you were going into games hoping just to get a draw, but this season at Bohs you want to win every game, it's a complete turnaround for me," he says.
"I'm at my local club now as I'm from the area, I'm playing well and the team are doing well so it's all fallen into place.
"I think the draw we got away to Rovers, a week after Dundalk beat us 3-0, said a lot about us, that showed that we are here to stay. We had a good start to the season and we were up to second at one stage, but we don't plan to just drop down now and settle for being mid-table."
Bohs lost to Dundalk and St Pats, drew with Dundalk and have yet to play Cork City, but for Prendergast, it's the matches against the so-called lesser lights which will define their season.
"It's easy to play against the big teams as the players can get themselves fired up, but when you play the weaker teams, that's how your season is defined. We're going to Derry looking for a win - Keith Long never sends a team out to get a draw - and if we can get some points from the next few games we'll be ok."