“We’ve got off to a good start but nobody is getting carried away”

Paddy Kirk

WATERFORD v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
The RSC, Friday March 1 2019, 7.45pm

Two points clear at the top of the table after predictions of a nervy start to the season, Bohemians can be pretty satisfied with how the new campaign has panned out so far.

Keith Long has given debuts to nine players and his new-look side appear to have settled quickly but nobody at Dalymount Park is getting carried away.

They have picked up the maximum nine points from the three games played so far with victories against Finn Harps, UCD and rivals Shamrock Rovers.

But six of those points came against two newly-promoted teams and the other three against a side who have taken just one point from Bohs in their last six league meetings.

Defender Paddy Kirk, 20, said: “Obviously there is always a bit of apprehension at the start of the season when you’ve so many new players as to how the team is going to settle.

“Keith asked for patience from supporters and they’ve been behind us in all three games but thankfully we’ve got off to a good start.

“We’re only three games in though so we’re realistic. Nobody is getting carried away. It’s important to keep your feet on the ground and focus on the next game and no further.”

On the bench for the season opener against Finn Harps, Kirk was one of two changes to the starting line-up for the second game against UCD.

He replaced Darragh Leahy at left-back, while a fellow product and captain of the Bohs U19s, Andy Lyons, replaced skipper Derek Pender at right-back.

In total, Bohs gave game-time to 10 players under the age of 21 that night as the two most youthful line-ups in the division (hat-tip: Will Clarke) went head to head.

With Leahy, included in the 2018 PFAI Team of the Year, his rival for the left-back berth, Kirk is determined to grab every opportunity he is given.

He shone in the win 2-0 win against UCD – his persistence down the left-hand side setting up Bohs’ second goal – and his development as a player by manager Keith Long was highlighted ahead of Monday’s game against Rovers.

He might have felt slightly hard-done-by to find himself on the bench for that game but Kirk is a realist and was once again composed when he came off the bench in Leahy’s place in the 1-0 win.

Kirk, who is studying communications in DCU as well as holding down part-time jobs in the catering department of Trinity College and working with foreign students at DCU, said: “Competition for places is healthy and we have competition all over the team.

“That drives you individually and collectively as a team. It’s always going to be tough for me competing with Darragh but I feel I’ve come on as a player. It’s pleasing to hear the manager say that too and I feel I am ready to play.

“It has been a big step-up from U19s but thanks to Keith, Trevor Croly and the likes of Derek Pender I think I’m improving. I am obviously still learning but the players we have and have had previously help you and make the step-up easier.

“The likes of Detser (Derek Pender), he’s not one to scream and shout but he’s captain for a reason. He leads by example and you watch and learn from that.”

His 30-minute appearance from the bench was Kirk’s first taste of a derby – and he relished it.

He said: “I’ve never got to play against Rovers – even at underage level – so I was delighted to have been a part of it.

“I’m happy with how I did and more importantly the result. It would be easy to let the occasion get to you so I’m glad I was able to contribute.”

Bohs travel to Waterford tomorrow to face a team that finished fourth last season – two places and 11 points ahead of the Gypsies.

Alan Reynolds’ side have one win and two defeats from their opening two games but as a side that took 10 points from Bohs last term, Kirk and Co know they will have to be at their level best to get a result.

He added: “We’ve done our homework on them as we do all teams. We’re going down in good form with three wins and three clean sheets. But they are a very good side.

“We’ve done well at the back so we want to continue to be solid there and build on that.

“All the lads who have come in have settled in so far and James Talbot has done very well since coming in as goalkeeper. He’s been like a young Supps (Shane Supple). Maybe it’s the GAA background… except he’s a bit mad!

“He has settled quickly and the fans have taken to him. He was at Sunderland for four years for a reason so he is obviously very talented and we have another excellent keeper in Niall Corbet so the pair of them are pushing each other all the time.”

TEAM NEWS

Michael Barker (hamstring), Promise Omochere (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out. Kevin Devaney (knee) remains a doubt.

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