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bohs bid to scalp pat

OWEN Heary says he is ready for a rare battle against his old team-mate and mentor Pat Fenlon in tonight's Dublin derby at Dalymount Park.

Since they hooked up at Shelbourne back in 1998, the two northsiders have spent most of their careers as comrades - at Shels and Bohemians - and have only been on the opposing side in 17 seasons once since then, when Fenlon was in charge of Derry City against Heary's Bohs side in 2007.

But the pair go head-to-head at Dalymount tonight in the fourth Bohs-Rovers game of the season, the Hoops ahead this term with two wins already. Tonight's fixture lacks the edge which was evident in recent battles because of the clubs' status, with Rovers now out of contention in the title race and are aiming for a Europa League slot while Bohs appear to be safe from relegation but can realistically target nothing more than a Setanta Cup slot.

The fact that it's not a potential title-decider won't detract from the mood in the stands at Dalymount Park, though, Fenlon making a return to the ground as manager for the first time since 2011.

"It will be a strange feeling to go head-to-head against Pat after being on the same side as him for so long," says Heary.

"I think we only played against each other once, when I was at Home Farm and he was at Shels, and in the last few years the only time we clashed was when he was managing Derry and I was playing for Bohs.

Challenge

"I know Pat well, I know the way he thinks and prepares his teams so it's a challenge for me to counter that.

"It's also a factor for this game that Dave Henderson, who had been working with us at Bohs, has gone over and joined Pat at Rovers.

"Dave knows out squad and our players inside-out so we will have to try and mix things up a bit, see if we cam come up with something different to what they expect.

"But I'm not that too concerned about Pat and Shamrock Rovers, I am focused on us and the job we have to do. We had a good win on Friday night at home to Drogheda, if we go on a run now we can push into the top half of the table, maybe qualify for the Setanta Cup, that's our main aim outside of the FAI Cup and a good result tonight would help us get that."

His cause tonight is hampered by player absences which underline the thin squad at Dalymount. With two regulars suspended (Steve Beattie and Roberto Lopes), two more unavailable (Anto Murphy and Jack Memery) and another struggling with injury (Dinny Corcoran), Heary will have to dig deep, with youngsters like Stephen Best promoted to the bench while recent signing Adam Evans, who made his league debut in Friday's win over Drogheda, could also come into contention.

Cope

"We just have to cope," says Heary. "It's hard to expect lads like Jason Byrne and Dave Mulcahy to manage two 90 minutes in four days but we'll get on with it.

"This is a big game for us and for our supporters. We didn't do well against Rovers in the EA Sports Cup semi-final the other week, the players know they can do better and this is their chance."


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