Bohemians begin a “big week for the club” with a challenging trip to Tallaght on Monday.
Manager Aaron Callaghan says he “loves the big games” and has no need to get the players up for this second Dublin derby in three days.
“We can take a lot of positives from our performance on Friday and we’ve got to take that over there. But we know it’s a big ask given the position Shamrock Rovers are in.
“Their form was a bit patchy but they have turned it around and why would’t they with the resources they have?”
Callaghan is relishing the tie but he is also looking forward to Friday’s FAI Cup quarter-final with Dundalk and the prospect of a win that brings his young team closer to a possible trophy. “It’s a big game on Monday but for me it’s an even bigger game on Friday. This is a big week for the club.”
Bohemians go to Tallaght with the memory of a 4-0 defeat in June of Monday’s opposition. Since then, Shamrock Rovers have been unbeaten at home in the league but have also failed to win, recording four draws in those four league games.
Callaghan insists that Bohemians’ recent losses in the league have been by very small margins, with the exception of defeat in Sligo, where “nearly all teams go up and lose”.
Friday’s derby against St Patrick’s Athletic showed, as Callaghan had anticipated, that Bohemians can be a match for any team in the league.
“It was a really good game. I found I was enjoying the game almost as a spectator. Both teams were trying to play football. The atmosphere on the night was good and it was a fantastic performance from the lads.
“The lapses of concentration, particularly at set-pieces, cost us again. We remind the lads weekly what their responsibilities are. But these lapses also happen at the highest levels in football.
“The defeat is hard to take but sometimes you lose the right way by trying to have a go. We were fantastic all over the park. We caused them umpteen problems and they’re a team with more experience than us. But we should have scored more goals.
“We changed to 3-5-2. It’s a more open and expansive system, it gets more people into the box, it’s more exciting, but you leave yourself slightly exposed on the defensive side.”
Callaghan gave debuts to 19-year-old Greg Murray in goal and new signing Kevin Devaney (21) up front and the manager says both acquitted themselves very well.
Callaghan has used over 30 players this season and will continue to vary his selection and his players’ positions, having started Derek Pender in midfield on Friday.
“I have job descriptions for each position on the pitch and these allow me to say, for instance, that if you’re playing centre-half you’ve got to be able to rotate into midfield and rotate across the back.
“We have been lacking bite in the middle of the park. We have good technical players who keep the ball really well. But we need the midfield players getting into the box more. Ryan McEvoy has been doing that but he’s injured.
“I put Derek [Pender] in there in the second half against Sligo and that’s how he got his goal. It’s all about getting our balance right.”
Callaghan’s selection is restricted only by the absence of Owen Heary (back injury) and Ryan McEvoy (ankle injury).