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Pender to tackle hard day's work before Rovers semi-final

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Bohemians captain Derek Pender. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

Bohemians captain Derek Pender. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Bohemians captain Derek Pender. Photo: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

A season-defining occasion at Dalymount Park tomorrow won't prevent Bohemians captain Derek Pender from following his familiar Friday routine.

Just past 4pm, the defender will clock off from his job at AIB in Dublin city and make the short trip up to Phibsboro. Yet not before he checks his shift is covered.

Awaiting him on the roads and lanes approaching the rickety old venue will be throngs of fans decked out in red and black. Sprinkles of green and white will remind him of the game's significance.

For all the fervour generated by clashes with Shamrock Rovers in recent years, this one is particularly significant.

Bohs went seven matches and two years unbeaten in Dublin derbies until recently but only bragging rights were bagged. Win tomorrow and there's the prize of a FAI Cup final on November 3 in Lansdowne Road to conclude the season.

"I could have booked the day off but I'd prefer to work," said 35-year-old stalwart Pender at yesterday's FIFA20 League of Ireland Cover Launch.

"Otherwise, I'd be sitting at home all day thinking about the game. Last year, we travelled up to Derry City on the eve of the quarter-final and my head was wrecked. I ended up with a headache before the match.

"I'm a little quieter in work of a Friday. My colleagues are great for allowing me time off but I'll stay till 4 and someone will take over."

Even the mischievous Rovers cohort on the office floor facilitate Pender's balancing act.

"I get plenty of abuse from them through the instant messenger," he explained.

"They had been very quiet for two years until Rovers beat us in Tallaght recently. It would be great to be able to go in on Monday and give them a bit of stick back."

Unlike Pender and most of his team-mates, Rovers won't have work commitments during the day.

A full-time operation carries with it expectations, especially for a club without a league or cup triumph since 2011.

Pender, as a former Rovers player, can appreciate that factor.

"There is big pressure on Rovers with their budget and the investment put into the squad," he noted.

"We'll need everything we can to beat them but Dalymount is a special place when full. The stands are so close to the pitch and it's a great atmosphere for us to play in."

That was evident 12 months ago when Bohs blew the lead in the semi-final against Cork City, eventually losing the replay at Turners Cross.

"That disappointment from last year is still there," admits Pender.

"We were so close but you need that bit of luck. We've had that this season with the wins in the earlier rounds over Shelbourne and Longford Town. Hopefully it continues against a strong Rovers side."

Irish Independent