Season Preview 2024: Bohemians

Head Coach: Ken Kiernan

Stadium: Dalymount Park

In: Orlagh Fitzpatrick (Treaty United), Aoibhe Brennan (Shelbourne), Aoibhe Fleming (Shamrock Rovers), Sarah Duke Power (Treaty United), Alannah McEvoy (Shamrock Rovers), Savannah Kane (Shelbourne), Sarah McKevitt (DLR Waves), Aoife Brophy (DLR Waves), Ciara Smith (Terenure Rangers), Tiegen Ruddy (Shamrock Rovers).

Out: Erica Burke (Peamount United), Ciara Maher (Peamount United), Mia Dodd (Shelbourne), Yvonne Hedigan (Sligo Rovers).

Re-signed: Rachael Kelly, Medbh Ryan, Katie Lovely, Lynn Craven, Lisa Murphy,Abbie O’Hara, Fiona Donnelly, Eimear Quinn, Anna Hegarty, Katie Malone. Key Player: Rachael Kelly.

Despite playing in a side that struggled in the latter half of 2023, Kelly remains one of the best goalkeepers in the league. She kept nine clean sheets from 20 league matches last season and in 2022 she was named in the Team of the Season.

Last year was a tumultuous one for Bohemians with a strong opening half of the season undermined by a second half that yielded just two league wins. There was also a change of management towards the season’s end.

Stability would be one of Bohs’ preferred ingredients in 2024 and nothing contributes more to a stable football environment than a solid ‘keeper between the sticks. Kelly is exactly that and her experience and ability will be vital in a much changed Bohemians squad. One to watch: Ciara Smith

Smith won the FAI Women’s Amateur Cup with Terenure Rangers in 2023 and was most recently part of TG4’s Underdogs team that played Galway United. She was awarded the Player of the Match on that occasion and impressed both on and off the pitch.

So much so that Ken Kiernan signed her for Bohemians ahead of the 2024 campaign, citing her fitness and her positive attitude, as well as her ability as a defender.

Smith is one of ten additions to the Bohemians squad this season and brings a lot of positive attributes with her at a time when the Phibsborough side are looking for strong, positively-minded personalities.

What to expect in 2024:

It’s not entirely clear what supporters of this Bohemians team should expect from the new season, but we should probably start by assessing how 2023 ended and then ask what has changed since then.

Well, the short answer is that 2023 ended badly but a lot has changed.

After the summer break in 2023, Bohemians played seven league games and won just one of them. It came on the final day against a struggling Treaty United side and the winning goal was scored by Mia Dodd, who has since left to join near neighbours Shelbourne. That win ended a run of two draws and four defeats and left Bohs sitting 6th in the final league table.

Meanwhile, in the Cup, Bohs beat lower league Cabinteely 3-0 at the Carlisle Grounds and then promptly lost 1-0 to a Sligo Rovers side that finished 20 points behind them in the league.

There was also the small matter of the management duo of Sean Byrne and Pat Trehy leaving the club at some point towards the end of October. The reason for the departure remain unclear but the situation can’t have helped a team that were already struggling to put results together.

Looking forward to the new season and the squad will have a new man at the helm, in the shape of Ken Kiernan, who arrived in Phibsborough from an assistant’s role at Athlone Town. He’ll be without a number of key players who departed over the winter, including defender Ciara Maher, midfielder Mia Dodd and striker Erica Burke.

On the other hand, no less than 10 players are incoming. Among those are the experienced Alannah McEvoy, Tiegen Ruddy, who returned to the league from a spell in Switzerland last year, and DLR full back Aoife Brophy.

Bohs version .24 look to be reasonably well set defensively, with experience provided by keeper Rachael Kelly, as well as the likes of Fiona Donnelly, Lisa Murphy and Lynn Craven. But where will the goals come from this year? Katie Malone hasn’t traditionally been a prolific scorer, while Orlagh Fitzpatrick is as yet unproven. New signing Alannah McEvoy has done well in pre-season but scored only four for Shamrock Rovers last year, and five in the league for Peamount in 2022.

The Bohs story for 2024 can’t yet be written - there are far too many variables in play. But a lot will depend on how the new faces fit in, and the influence that their younger players can bring to bear on a side that needs a boost. And a lot of questions will need to be answered before hope can be replaced by confidence in the stands at Dalymount Park.

First Game: Wexford v Bohemians  -  Sat 9 March (6.00 pm)