Keith Long: 'These are problems we want. We want this congestion period, we’re enjoying this journey now'

by Seán O'Connor

Bohemians manager Keith Long was delighted with his side’s performance on Thursday night in the Europa Conference League, after crushing F91 Dudelange 3-0 (4-0 on aggregate) at the Aviva Stadium.

Georgie Kelly starred once again, adding two second half goals to the two he netted on the same pitch a fortnight ago. Rob Cornwall opened the scoring with a fine header, while dazzling displays from Ross Tierney, Dawson Devoy and Liam Burt got the 8000 supporters off their seats on numerous occasions.

“I can't be any prouder of the way the club and players have conducted themselves so far in Europe, the way the supporters have come in and generated the noise in this stadium. I’m sure the people who love Irish football are proud of us and the team tonight,” Long said after Thursday night’s game.

A 3-0 win in Europe for any Irish side is a rarity, but The Gypsies’ two in a row at Lansdowne makes you think that something special is occurring here. The victory also guarantees Bohs a further €550,000, adding to the €300,000 they secured in the first round.

After a brilliant 1-0 win away in the first leg, Bohs knew they could take nothing for granted in the Aviva, with the visitors having qualified for the Europa League in 2017 and 2019.

Naming an unchanged eleven from the first leg, the hosts started well with early chances from Coote, Tierney and Kelly. It took the visitors almost 20 minutes to break into the Bohs half, and bar one Sinani effort straight at Talbot, the side from Luxembourg created very little in the contest.

A well-deserved opener arrived from Cornwall on the half hour mark, courtesy of a super cross from Anto Breslin. From here, the men from Phibsboro never looked back.

The man of the moment, Georgie Kelly put the tie to bed after the hour mark, with two goals in five minutes to send the 8000 fans wild. Kelly’s first was a real poachers goal, headed in from close range after Coote’s free found Cornwall, who squared it back across to Kelly.

Minutes later, Liam Burt then picked up the ball inside his own half, galloped forward, beat two men, and found Kelly, who made no mistake with a cool bottom corner finish.

It is a tight turnaround for Bohemians, as they host Greek giants PAOK on Tuesday in the third qualifying round first leg.

Keith Long spoke to extratime.com about how he and his team manage the fixture congestion, with Bohs aiming for a top four league finish, whilst Shamrock Rovers await in the next round of the cup also.

“We had 10 changes versus College Corinthians and nine changes for Longford a week before. I suppose we’ve been able to rest players as well. The depth of the squad has been challenged, that’s for sure.

“We’ll be looking to add one or two players if we possibly can to strengthen us. We’ve got Stephen Mallon and Promise coming back from injury too, so we’ll have to use the squad, no doubt about it.

“These are problems we want, we want this congestion period, we’re enjoying this journey now.

“We brought on three boys tonight and each of them did a great job for us. This is a good problem, and it's where we want to be, it's a challenge.

“We have to rotate the squad, but we have belief and trust in the squad that we can go out and do a job.”