The ‘Sold Out’ signs are set to hang outside Dalymount Park on Sunday evening as high-flying Bohemians welcome the holders Cork City for their FAI Cup semi final.
Though Cork have challenged to retain their league title all year and Bohs have flirted with the relegation play-off, their form couldn’t be more starkly contrasted going into the game.
A 3-1 win away to St Patrick’s Athletic, having made 11 changes to the starting line-up, made it nine wins on the bounce in all competitions for Keith Long’s Gypsies.
Cork, by contrast, are without a win in the league since early August and have lost five times since then, including a shock 4-2 defeat at Dalymount two weeks ago.
Daniel Kelly scored twice and Derek Pender once, to add to a Damien Delaney own goal, as Bohs stunned the champions with four goals before half time.
They followed that up five days later with a gutsy 3-1 win away to Derry City in the Cup quarter final, the game having been delayed due to their IRN Bru Cup adventures in Scotland.
Dinny Corcoran scored twice following Dan Casey’s headed opener at the Brandywell to set up the biggest game the club’s seen since they challenged for the league title in 2010.
“It’s the semi-final of the FAI Cup. It’s where we want to be,” Long told the Dublin Gazette following the win over Pats.
“It’s great that we’ve won today and it’ll keep the positive run we’re on, and the momentum we’ve built up over the nine-game winning run. That’s our best record in years, and we’d like to go one step further in the cup.
“We’ve got the massive challenge of Cork at home next week, so we’re under no illusion that is going to be a very difficult game.
“But we can go into the week in a positive frame of mind, knowing the health of the club is in a good condition.”
Bohs’ comfortable 3-1 win over the Saints – despite falling behind as early as the third minute – showcased the embarrassment of riches at Long’s disposal.
Three members of the club’s league and cup-winning under-19 squad were on the field – three making their league debuts – while a fourth, Promise Omochere, featured off the bench.
17-year-old striker Ali Reghba marked his debut with a brace, while 20-year-old Robbie McCourt also scored in his first league game.
The performance presents some welcome – if unexpected – selection headaches for Long ahead of the semi-final as Reghba in particular pressed his claim.
“We’re in a confident state of mind because we’re winning games.
“It’s going to be a massive challenge next week against Cork because they’re the champions and they won the Cup the last two years. They won’t want to relinquish that easily.
“We know it will be a tough game, but we go into the week with a confident frame of mind.
“Winning breeds confidence and we’re in a good vein of form and a good moment for the club.
“Sunday is going to be a massive game, a big game for the club, and hopefully the place will be sold out and we can give our supporters something to shout about.”