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"Stranger things have happened" | Ward on Bohemians' pursuit of Rovers

Stephen Doyle
Stephen Doyle

19:54 20 Aug 2020

Bohemians have found themselves in Premier Division title chase behind arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers with just ten games left to play this season.

The northside club are in second place, four points off the summit and four clear of reigning champions Dundalk who have surprisingly dropped seven points from the nine on offer in their first three games after the season restarted.

It is the Tallaght club setting the pace though this season and while Bohemians midfielder Keith Ward feels that they will be very hard to catch, he is refusing to write off his team's chances just yet.

"They're a serious, serious team. They are the team to be caught. They're a team that I think have grown over the last two or three years and have an identity," Ward told OTB Sports.

"They've got a great core, if you look at the players they have, good experience with [Ronan] Finner, Joey O'Brien, Roberto Lopes who I played with and I think was a bit under the radar. I think he's one of their best players and one of the best defenders in the league.

"They are the team to catch at the moment and with ten games left it's going to be tough but stranger things have happened. We're not looking at them or Dundalk, we're just a team that can only look at ourselves. We're not even looking at Rovers. We'll only look at them when we're playing them. There's no doubt about it, they are the team to be caught. They've some serious talent, their forward players like Graham Burke, Jack Byrne, a serious, serious team."

Bohemians will be hoping that their neighbours Shelbourne can nick a point or more when they travel to Tallaght Stadium to face the leaders on Friday night which could be a bit of added motivation for them before they play in the weekend's second Dublin derby, against St Patrick's Athletic.

The Saints, under manager Stephen O'Donnell - who only took charge midway through last season, showed a new side to their game with a tough and gritty performance last Sunday in earning a nil-all draw against Rovers at Richmond Park and Ward expects something similar when they host them on Saturday.

"I think Stevie has probably gone in there and tried to change the culture that was there over the years. I don't know if Pats were a soft touch the last year or two, maybe. But they're getting to look a lot different and a lot stronger under Stevie," said Ward who has been impressed by the new players O'Donnell has brought to Inchicore.

"I think the signings over lockdown were very good with Georgie Kelly coming in, he's got one or two lads in from England. To see out a draw against Rovers like that, the way they dug in and showed a different side to their game that maybe Pats haven't had over the last year or two, or few years, so no doubt about it it's going to be as tough a game as any on Saturday.

"They've got some serious, serious players, Lee Desmond, Robbie Benson, Georgie Kelly up front, Chris Forrester. They're a team that can turn anyone over on their day with the talent they have. That's a tough, tough game for us on Saturday and a big Dublin derby as well so it'll be a very tough game."

Gypsies boss Keith Long also has an array of talent at his disposal and this season has assembled the most impressive squad he has had since arriving at Dalymount Park at the end of 2014.

One of the standout performers has been attacking midfielder Danny Grant who has found the net in back-to-back wins for Bohemians including a the winner in last Saturday's victory at Finn Harps which had Ward purring.

"His touch for the goal was outrageous and even the calmness he showed just to slot it in. Sometimes when you do a bit of magic you get excited and you fluff a finish but he showed great composure," said Ward.

"He's just someone who who I think is learning his trade and he gets better every season. He came in off the right last week, he came off the left. He's got a lot of talent. For someone who is quick, he can also get his head up and pick a pass."

Ward believes that Grant is at the right club at the right time under Long and assistant manager Trevor Croly and whatever his next step is, he believes that the first-team football he is getting at Dalymount will be of huge benefit to him in the future.

"He's at the right club at the moment and getting the right coaching. I see young lads these days coming through, they need games and he's someone who's getting games and it's standing to him," added Ward.

"He's still only twenty and he has over fifty-odd games now so going forward he's going to be a serious, serious player whether he has aspirations to go abroad. We can't too carried away either with Danny because he is a good player but hopefully he can finish the season as strong as he can and see how it goes because he does have serious talent."

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Bohemians Danny Grant Keith Ward Premier Division SSE Airtricity League Shamrock Rovers St Patrick's Athletic

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