Bohemians captain Derek Pender will make his final Dalymount Park appearance before his retirement on Friday evening as the Gypsies host Sligo Rovers (kick-off is at 7.45pm).
Pender confirmed at a press conference on Thursday afternoon that he will retire from football after the visit of the Bit O’Red to Dalymount Park.
While at the Phibsborough venue, Pender has made over 200 appearances for the club, and was also named as club captain in 2015.
“After 17 years playing in our great league, the time has come for me to announce my retirement. I never thought this day would come; it still doesn’t feel real.
“I was always a massive fan of our league. I used to bunk into Dalymount, Tolka and watch in awe of the greats like Owen Heary, Kevin Hunt, Stuart Byrne, Jason Byrne, Jim Crawford and Glen Crowe.
“Not many people have the opportunity to spend 17 years doing what they truly love to do. I have been fortunate to be able to do so yet here I am announcing my retirement as Bohs captain.
“I can’t say I will look back at my career without any regrets. Football gives you the highest of highs but also the lowest of lows. That’s why we love it.
“Tomorrow will be the last time I lead our team out in Dalymount. I’m actually dreading it because I’m going to miss it so much.”
Manager Keith Long added; When I was appointed manager, I named Derek captain of the club and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
“If you are looking for a reason why this club is what it is today, then look no further than Derek.
“He is respected in every dressing room up and down the country and he has driven ours.
“The players adore him, respect him and would do anything for him.
“He is a real leader who goes about his business without any fanfare. His story, I believe, is a true inspiration for us all.
“Derek will remain at the club next year in a capacity yet to be determined but as far as I am concerned, he will have a huge role to play in our identity and how the club moves forward.
“Any Bohs player can look to Derek as inspiration and what you can achieve through honesty of effort and dedicating yourself to the game."
Bohs have not released any team news as of yet, but it is expected that Dinny Corcoran, Darragh Leahy and Christian Magerusan will continue to miss out with long-term injuries.
Sligo Rovers will be looking to round off their Premier Division campaign in style when they travel to the capital to face Bohemians.
The Gypsies secured European qualification last week with a point away to St Patrick’s Athletic, with James Talbot proving his worth in spades for Bohs.
However, Sligo on the other hand fell to a bitterly disappointing defeat at home to Derry City, a result that Liam Buckley is hoping to make amends for tomorrow evening.
“Last week’s performance was below par. It was a fair outcome for Derry to win the game. I was really disappointed to finish off the home season like that because we’ve had some good nights in The Showgrounds. It was a four out of 10 display.
“We have this game to try to end the year on a bright note. We are taking the progress we’ve made this year into 2020 and a second win away to Bohs would be something to add to that.
“More importantly, I really want us to keep hold of that sixth place. It’ll also determine how many points we finish off the top three, so we’ve been reminding the players all week about the importance of doing well in this game.
“It didn’t transpire, and two places emerged with Bohs and another club set to benefit. Any team that gets there should be commended. Next season it’s going to become even more competitive.
“I’m sure Bohs will want to put on a show for their fans with the big crowd as they celebrate but that doesn’t really interest us.
“The notion that we go there and have nothing to play for couldn’t be further from the truth. I expect the players to respond to the occasion, to the loyal away support we’ve had all season and to the chance to clinch that sixth place in the table.”
In terms of team news for the Bit O’Red, Romeo Parkes remains out while forward Ronan Murray returns from suspension.
Referee: Rob Hennessy.
The Gypsies are unbeaten in four of their previous five competitive games, with a defeat to Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup being their only blemish on their recent record.
The Bit O’Red are winless in their previous four competitive games, with their last win coming away to UCD in September.
Bohemians 8/13; Draw 3/1; Sligo Rovers 7/2.
Bohemians 1 - 0 Sligo Rovers
Injured: Romeo Parkes.