It’s FAI Cup semi-final Friday as Bohemians welcome Waterford to a full capacity Dalymount Park on Friday evening with kick off at 7.45pm.
Both sides will be putting their league duties to one side as they battle it out for a place at the Aviva.
Bohemians are appearing in their third semi-final in four years and having failed to progress to the final on both previous occasions in 2018 and 2019 Keith Long’s charges will be eager to put to bed their poor recent record at this stage.
The Gypsies route to the semi-final began with a win over College Corinthians, a fabulous late individual goal from Andy Lyons saw off Shamrock Rovers in the second round before Maynooth University Town were put to the sword in the quarter-final.
Bohs haven’t played in the FAI Cup final since their most recent triumph back in 2008. While the Dalymount side have been applauded for their progress in recent seasons given the size of their budget, the club is still without major silverware since a Setanta Sports Cup win in 2010.
A defeat to Waterford might cast a shadow on what has been an incredible season so far with their exploits in Europe and they are still in the hunt for third spot in the SSE Airtricity League.
Keith Long is relishing a full capacity Dalymount after a 17-month absence.
“It is great to have full capacity back in Dalymount,” said Long. We are really looking forward to the atmosphere and noise that that will create, the atmosphere and vibrancy that the full capacity will bring.
“Dalymount is a special place and we want to create a special night. The supporters are key to that. A jam-packed Dalymount in full voice for an FAI Cup semi-final, where else would the players want to be after two years of hardship where everybody in the country has suffered in one way or another?
“Hopefully there is light at the end of this tunnel. It has been a long journey to this point but we are so excited to have those supporters back. Hopefully we can get them excited about coming to watch their team play.
“There is no doubt that players feed off the energy the fans give. You only have to look at those European games in the Aviva Stadium, the second round of the FAI Cup against Shamrock Rovers at Dalymount when there was a crowd of 800 in attendance – it felt like there were 3,000 or 4,000.
“Similarly in the Aviva Stadium where we experienced crowds of 6,000 and 8,000 but in the ground they generated much more noise than those numbers would suggest.
“We have got an amazing fanbase. We have supporters who really, really back their team. It is our responsibility to give them something to get excited about.”
When former QPR midfielder Marc Bircham walked in the door in the RSC to become manager he maybe couldn’t have dreamed of being in a cup semi-final and firmly in the hunt for Premier Division survival, but here the Blues stand.
The Blues have some serious momentum behind them and are arguably the form team in the country with just one defeat since August. What’s bigger, a cup win or survival?
The Munster side haven’t lifted the FAI Cup in 41 years and it is testament to Bircham that his side have the chance to put that run to bed over the coming weeks.
Waterford will make the trip up the M9 with confidence after a thumping 4-1 win over relegation rivals Finn Harps last time out.
Having edged out Kilnamanagh and UCD, Bohs will be a step up for Bircham’s side even though their record at Dalymount can’t be discounted with four wins in their last six games in Phisborough.
Bircham says his side are excited for the game and will be relying on a raucous away support on Friday.
“It’s a Cup semi-final but we’ve treated it like any other game in how we’ve prepared this week and the squad are excited for the game,” said Bircham. “We know Bohemians will be a very tough opposition but we’re in really good form and confidence is high with the lads.
“Last week [v Finn Harps] was really good, we played some good football, didn’t allow them to use their physicality and played to our advantage to got the win that we deserved.
“We had a massive crowd last week and they really pushed the lads on and we know we’ll have a noisy crowd again on Friday and it’ll be so important.”
Referee: Rob Harvey
2-1 home win
Injured: Stephen Mallon
Doubtful: Georgie Kelly, James Talbot, James Finnerty, Ross Tierney