Depleted Bohs feeling the strain of a Long week
While the mid-season break couldn't be at a worse time for Shamrock Rovers, the situation couldn't be any more different for their opponents tonight.
The depth of the Bohemians squad has already been tested to its limits in recent weeks, so when Robbie Creevy limped off during the first half of last Tuesday's defeat to St Patrick's Athletic, they had another name to add to their lengthy injury list.
Keith Long's men played like a shell of the side who defeated league leaders Dundalk last week and despite the seemingly endless list of absentees, the Bohs boss wasn't using that as an excuse for the sub-standard display.
A run of games against Dundalk, Pat's and Rovers would test the limit of any squad and Long knows the importance of the break for his side.
"It's a little bit stretched and we can't wait for the break, to be honest with you because as I've said before, we're a part-time squad of players, a part-time management team and we don't have the power of recovery that other teams have and the luxury of being off work all day, every day," Long bemoaned.
"We've got injury upon injury upon serious injury at the moment, but we weren't complaining on Friday when we won in Dundalk and we can't get too low when we're beaten.
"Tonight is a big game for us. We're at home against Shamrock Rovers and we want to put in a good performance before the break," the manager insisted.
Long is hoping to welcome Anto Flood and Dave Mulcahy back into contention and the latter admitted that he is frustrated with the scheduling of Bohs' recent games.
Mulcahy sat out the 3-1 defeat to Pat's with a hamstring strain but he is confident of being available for a game that he says requires no motivation.
"It's three really big games in six days and it's just ridiculous. It doesn't matter what team you are, it is still ridiculous," the 37-year-old said of his side's tough run.
"We have a really small squad and after the great win in Dundalk, we had the same bodies out there putting in that shift again against Pat's. It's hard going.
"If we can get something out of tonight then we're into the break and we can look forward to getting some bodies back.
"We're still in a good position and we're trying to win every game. We think we can and that's how we've treated every game," Mulcahy added.
The two teams played out a scoreless draw back in March and Rovers are still undefeated in the league.
Having dished out Dundalk's first league defeat of the season last weekend, the Gypsies are out to do the same at Dalymount Park and Mulcahy is relishing another tough test against their fiercest rivals.
"There's no motivation required, just turn up," the Kilkenny native admitted.
"A couple of us hopefully are back and I absolutely love the derby nights, especially when the pitches are good, the way they are at the moment.
"A big crowd is expected and Rovers are going really well, and I think they'll only get better as the season goes on.
"They've started to gel and Mikey Drennan - he's from my own hurling club James Stephens - is scoring goals and is a fantastic talent, although he's out for this one.
"They have the strength to adapt to it and as we know, Pat Fenlon has his teams very well organised and they don't concede much," Mulcahy added.
Having picked up a red card late on in the 4-1 win over Derry, Drennan is suspended for tonight's derby.
Bohs, however, have a far more concerning absentee list but nevertheless, Long will be desperate for one final push before the welcome break.
Bohemians v Shamrock Rovers,
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