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Saturday 14 December 2019

Euro return long overdue for Bohs

McCarthy due to watch Gypsies in battle for Europa slot

Jack Moylan of Bohemians celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the UEFA Youth League First Round First Leg
between Bohemians and PAOK at Dalymount Park
Jack Moylan of Bohemians celebrates after scoring his side’s first goal during the UEFA Youth League First Round First Leg between Bohemians and PAOK at Dalymount Park

Keith Long groans when it's pointed out that the nine-year absence from European football for his club is the longest Euro exile in Bohemians' history.

"Nine years, and I've been here for five of them, thanks for reminding me," he says.

There is a chance of that exclusion from UEFA competition could end in 2020, as Bohs are one of three teams in contention for the two remaining Europa League slots, Derry City and St Patrick's Athletic also fighting it out.

And for Long, a return to Europe in 2020, for the first time since 2012, would be proof that Bohs' off-field efforts are bearing fruit.

Merit

"The league table won't lie and your finish is on merit so I can't say we deserve it more than anyone else," Long says.

"We know how hard we have worked, we know how difficult things have been, that we are working with one of the youngest squads in the division.

"We have done a lot of things well, brought a lot of players through over a couple of years, we have a vibrant underage system.

"We do a lot of things well and you need positive affirmation on the pitch in terms of progression.

"And Europe would be a sign we're going in the right direction.

"We have four big games left and we want to finish the season off strongly to get Europe," he added ahead of tonight's game at home to Cork City.

That's a game Mick McCarthy will attend as part of a scouting mission which also takes in the Sligo Rovers-Shamrock Rovers game tomorrow, though Danny Mandroiu's suspension denies him the chance to impress McCarthy.

"It's very much in our own hands. The FAI Cup result in Sligo helps in that you have three teams battling for two European places, it will go right down to the wire.

"Pat's have to play us and Derry, so it could go to the wire."

Last week was a bad one for the Phibsboro club, a tame 2-0 loss at home to Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup semi-final, on a night when crowd disturbances underlined, again, just how outdated Dalymount Park is and how badly they need to find the modern home promised to them in the shape of a revamped Dalymount.

"We are disappointed to go out in the manner we did as much as anything else, if you put in a good performance and things don't go your way you can accept that but we didn't play well against Rovers," says Long.

But this has been a better week for the Gypsies. On Wednesday night their U19 side played out of their skin, and were unlucky to only earn a 1-1 draw, at home to Greek side PAOK in the UEFA Youth League, as players like Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy, who have both played first-team football this season, stood out for the U19s.

Label

The same day came news that legendary music label Rough Trade Records had come on board as one of the sponsors for tonight's game at home to Cork City, earning indie brownie points from music fans of a certain vintage.

St Pat's, who are at home to Waterford tonight, are one of their rivals for that European spot, fourth place now enough to earn Europa League qualification.

"We haven't been good this year, we haven't created enough chances, we haven't been entertaining to watch," Saints defender Lee Desmond told the LOI Weekly podcast.

"Everyone that goes to Richmond every Friday will tell you that.

"We haven't been the same St Pat's. We have to be honest with ourselves, we haven't lived up to expectations."

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