Long raves about Bohs' teen heroes
Keith Long has hailed the impact of his teenage stars as Bohemians close in on a return to European football.
There was a touch of good fortune about Friday's 1-0 win at home to Cork City as Cork keeper Tadhg Ryan was credited with an own goal in his attempt to save a cross from skipper Derek Pender.
But Bohs also profited from other matches as their rivals for the two Europa League places, Derry City and St Patrick's Athletic, both lost, those outcomes pushing Bohs back into third place with three games to go.
And while veteran Pender (35) played a key role in the winning goal, Long raved about the contribution of youngsters Ross Tierney (18) and Dawson Devoy (17), both players enjoying a run in the first team while also appearing for the club's U19 side in midweek in their UEFA Youth League battle with Greek side PAOK.
"Ross Tierney, he has just been amazing for us, at 18 years of age, to put in such mature performances," says Long.
"Dawson Devoy as well, coming off the bench. Ross played 66 minutes on Wednesday (for the U19 side) and then put in that type of performance against Cork.
"He's a special little lad, he's been magic since he's coming into the team.
"Dawson coming off the bench, having played 90 minutes on Wednesday, he was head and shoulders above in terms of being the best player on the pitch.
"He has a football brain and he came in and gave us a little lift when we needed it.
"There is lots of good things going on but we have to do it on the pitch, we have to get it over the line and try and get European football and that will give us affirmation, confirmation, that we're making progress."
With a five-point gap between Bohs and St Pat's, the Inchicore meeting of the two sides next week could decide one of the European places as the Gypsies' next test is at home to champions Dundalk, who have dropped points in just one of their last 18 league games.
"We are playing Dundalk next Friday, we'll need more in terms of performance. We've got to dig it out, we've got to stand up and try and fight for every point that we can," added Long.
Meanwhile, Cork boss Neale Fenn says he'd fed up being told that his side are too good to be relegated, as Finn Harps could still bypass City for the relegation play-off, though Cork will be safe if they win at home to bottom side UCD on Friday.
"I keep hearing that. People keep saying 'You won't go down'," he says, Harps six points behind his side with three games left.
"Harps are the type of team that pull a shock out of the bag."