“We want them to have a reward for their efforts this season”

ENDA McGUILL CUP FINAL
Bohemians U19s v Shamrock Rovers U19s
Saturday November 2 2019
Dalymount Park, 12pm

GENERAL ADMISSION: €5
UNDER-16s GO FREE

Craig Sexton has told his Bohemians U19s to go out and win a trophy he believes their efforts this season deserve.

Sexton’s U19s are looking to lift the Enda McGuill Cup for the second season running having beaten St Pat’s 2-1 in the decider last term.

Their bid to win three league titles in a row came unstuck last month when they lost 3-2 after extra time against eventual finalists Galway United, who lost the league final to Waterford on Monday.

Bohs’ exit from the knockout stages of the league was a particularly harsh lesson.

Having had two men sent off, they finished the game with just eight having used up all their substitutes when a player was forced off through injury.

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It was a cruel exit for a team that had lost just once in 20 games in the Northern Elite Division, which they topped by nine points.

But tomorrow’s Enda McGuill Cup final offers salvation.

Sexton said: “We spoke to the players. We want them to have a reward for their efforts this season.

“We feel they deserve it for all the work they’ve put in over the course of the year and the level of performance they have delivered so consistently.

“They deserve to have something to show for that but they will really have to work for it. It won’t come easily.

“For some of them, this will be their last game for the club at U19s level so we want them to finish up on a high. The perfect way to do that would be to beat Rovers in a Dublin derby at Dalymount to win a trophy.”

Sexton hopes a big home support can help his side over the line tomorrow as his players continue to get used to big occasions at Dalymount Park.

He said: “It’s another big one for the players.

“Some of them have experienced big occasions now with the club through the first team already – the likes of Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy – as well as the Uefa Youth League games this year and last.

“They need to embrace occasions like this and familiarise themselves with them as it’s an important part of their development as players.”

Bohs exited the the Uefa Youth League game by the narrowest of margins nine days ago after losing 1-0 to PAOK in Greece, 2-1 on aggregate.

They were left kicking themselves for not taking their chances in the first leg but Sexton believes the experience is one his players will treasure, adding: “We were disappointed not to progress but we can look back with pride on what was a really positive experience for the players.

“We should have won the first game but the way they played against some of the top young players in Europe will stand to them.”

Please note the the club section of the FAI National Draw will be held in the Members’ Bar after the game.

“There’s no doubt in our minds as to what we have to do over here”

PAOK (1) v BOHEMIANS U19s (1)
UEFA YOUTH LEAGUE
Champions Path 1st Round, 2nd Leg
Wednesday October 23 2019
Toumba Stadium, 6pm Greek time/4pm Irish time

Craig Sexton says his Bohemians U19s are under no illusions as to their objectives against PAOK tomorrow.

Sexton’s Bohs U19s arrived in Thessalonica yesterday knowing they have to score at the Toumba Stadium to have any chance of progressing through to second round of the Uefa Youth League.

Barring a miracle, Ukrainians Dynamo Kyiv, who have an 8-0 first-leg lead over Shkëndija of North Macedonia, await the winners in the next round.

Bohs were by far the better team against PAOK at Dalymount Park three weeks ago and were frustrated not to be travelling to Greece ahead in the tie, instead drawing 1-1, giving PAOK the advantage with the away goal.

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Jack Moylan put Bohs ahead after just six minutes but Antonis Gaitanidis hit back four minutes later.

The Gypsies dominated possession and worked the opposition keeper throughout. But Christos Tallchmanidis was a man possessed in the PAOK goal.

As well as denying a Dawson Devoy spot kick, he pulled off a rake of stunning saves, particularly in the dying embers of the game as Bohs piled on the pressure.

Sexton said: “We played very well, but we hope to improve on our first-leg performance by being a little bit more clinical. With the chances we had in that game, we probably could and should be coming over here with a lead.

“But we’re not, so we there’s no doubt in our minds as to what we have to do over here.

“We can’t sit back. We have to score or we’re out. PAOK have the away goal so we know the objective here is to go out and play and try to score.”

Sexton’s travelling party has been bolstered by the inclusion for this leg of Andy Lyons, who has enjoyed a real breakthrough season in the first team, deputising with a maturity beyond his years when called upon to fill in for skipper Derek Pender at right-back.

He, along with skipper Alex Byrne, Seán Bohan, Ross Tierney, Thomas Considine and Mitchell Byrne, is one of six players to have been involved in last season’s Uefa Youth League ties against FC Midtjylland of Denmark, which Bohs lost 4-2 on aggregate.

It is an altogether new experience for the group of which Evan Ferguson, who turned 15 last week, is the youngest.

Sexton said: “Travelling abroad, staying in hotels, playing in big stadiums, this is new for a lot of them but they’ve settled in well.

“We got to see the stadium yesterday. It’s great venue. A big, old wraparound stadium, 30,000 all-seater, so it will something most of them will be experiencing for the very first time.

“But the mood in the camp is great. They’re relaxed, fully grasp the challenge that is ahead of them and are looking forward to it.”

While this is an altogether new experience for most of them, many of Sexton’s squad have of late been gaining much experience on other fronts.

Ross Tierney in action in the first leg - Sportsfile

Ross Tierney in action in the first leg - Sportsfile

Lyons, who starred at the U19 European Championships this summer, is by some stretch the most experienced of the group.

But the likes of Ross Tierney, Dawson Devoy and Ferguson have sampled first-team football in the league, while others like Seán Bohan, Alex Byrne and Mitchell Byrne have been involved with first-team matchdays squads as well.

Tierney, a St Kevin’s Boy since he was eight, in particular has caught the eye for the first team in recent months having shone throughout the Bohs-SKB partnerships teams and Bohs U19s previously.

He has taken the step-up his stride and has become something of a fans’ favourite in the process, while Devoy has had encouraging appearances in recent weeks also.

Both men have benefited from a freak run of injuries for Keith Long’s first team but have not looked out of place when called into action.

There has been international recognition too with Bohan, Tierney and Devoy all making their first appearances for Tom Mohan’s Ireland U19s in a friendly against Denmark last week.

Sexton said: “The likes of Ross and Dawson have been the lucky ones this year but they’ve rewarded the trust Keith Long has shown them. They’ve both made a huge impact, particularly Ross. I think Keith has probably found it hard to drop him!

“Ross is Ross. He’s an infectious character on and off the pitch. He’s not a bawler on the pitch, he lets his football do the talking. He leads by the way he plays.

“If there’s a mould of the kind of player we want to bring through, Ross is it.

“You’re hoping experiences like this year and last can stand to these players if and when they make the step-up to the first team.

“Ultimately that’s my job and the job of all the managers and coaches down through the Bohs-SKB U17s, U15s and U13s is to get the best out of players and get them ready to be funnelled into Keith’s first team or beyond.

“Keith drives all of that – throughout the set-ups. We’re lucky we have a first-team manager who will give youth a chance and isn’t afraid to back them.

“That’s yielded great results this season and hopefully we’ll have more given that opportunity next season. That’s what this is all about.”

“The manager has reminded us and hammered home to us that we will get nothing handed to us, that we have to work for it.”

ST PATRICK’S ATHLETIC v BOHEMIANS
SSE Airtricity League
Friday October 18 2019, 7.45pm

Paddy Kirk says Bohemians will take to the field tonight with a word of advice from manager Keith Long ringing in their ears.

Bohs, playing their penultimate game of the season, are in the driving seat to claim on of the two final Europa League spots on offer after a stunning victory against champions Dundalk at Dalymount Park last Friday.

Long’s men are third on 56 points with Derry City in fourth on 51 points and St Pat’s in fifth on 48 points.

The other two have a game in hand against one another, which takes place on Tuesday.

A point would be enough for Bohs to secure European football tonight but Kirk knows him and his team-mates need to dig deep once more to get a result.

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Kirk said: “There’s a lot of expectation tonight but we’re really looking forward to it. The manager has reminded us and hammered home to us that we will get nothing handed to us, that we have to work for it.

“At the start of the season some were tipping us to be involved in a relegation battle but as a group we felt we had a lot of talented players and felt we could aim high.

“We would love to get over the line tonight but it will be a tough game. We’ve prepared like we would any game and we feel we’ve done our homework and we know how good St Pat’s can be.

“There’s nowhere else you would like to be than playing in Europe for Bohs in Dalymount next year but we have to work for it.”

Kirk has has to be patient this season to get a chance in the team but has enjoyed an extended run of late thanks to an injury suffered by regular left-back Darragh Leahy while on international duty for the Ireland U21s last month.

Kirk said: “I’m delighted to get a run of games. You always want to test yourself by playing every week.

“Obviously you want to play as many games as you can. But I’m not the only one who has had to bide my time. You look at Scott Allardice, he’s had to wait for his turn too and has come in and has done really well.

“But that’s why we’ve got such a competitive squad. We’re all pushing one another and thankfully my chance has come at the business end of the season.”

Danny Grant and Paddy Kirk celebrate - Stephen Burke

Danny Grant and Paddy Kirk celebrate - Stephen Burke

Having captained and starred for the Bohs U19s, 21-year-old Kirk is another success story of the quality of young players coming through the club in recent seasons.

His brother Rory is part of the coaching team with the Bohs-SKB U15s so he is a keen supporter of the pathway structures now in place.

He added: “I guess the likes of myself, Andy Lyons, Danny Grant and Ryan Graydon can be held up as an example of the pathway that is there now.

“There’s great work going on and great players coming through the club and through the link-up with St Kevin’s from U13, U15, U15 and through to the U19s and first team. It all bodes well for the future of both clubs.”

TEAM NEWS

Danny Mandroiu misses out through suspension. He received an additional one-match ban for his red card against Shamrock Rovers in the FAI Cup last month but this was not served against Dundalk last week as he was on international duty with the Ireland U21s.

Rob Cornwall (knee) will sit out the rest of the season after coming off against Dundalk and Darragh Leahy (ankle) will also miss the final two games.

There was better news elsewhere though with Keith Buckley (hamstring), Andy Lyons (knee) and Conor Levingston (groin) all returning to training this week.

Better news still for long-term absentees Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) and Dinny Corcoran (ankle). Magerusan is back to full training. Corcoran has resumed training but time is against him to feature again this season.

“The squad is really stretched but the lads continue to stand up and fight”

BOHEMIANS v DUNDALK
SSE Airtricity League
Friday October 11, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

Keith Long says his depleted Bohemians side need to continue to stand up and fight to consolidate their place in third.

Two of Bohs, Derry City and St Patrick’s Athletic will claim the final Europa League qualification spots and Long’s side seized the advantage with a 1-0 win over Cork City at Dalymount Park last week.

That, coupled with Derry City losing to tonight’s opposition, saw the Gypsies move back up to third, while fifth-placed St Patrick’s Atheltic’s defeat to Waterford gave some further breathing space.

But as Bohs found to their benefit last week, the table can change very quickly. Long is not a manager who allows his team to get carried away but with three games remaining, Bohs are on 53 points, Derry on 51 and St Pat’s on 48.

A slice of luck was all that separated Bohs and Cork last week as visiting keeper Tadhg Ryan fumbled Derek Pender’s cross over the line.

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With a squad ravaged by injury and devoid of any luck in recent months, Bohs were entitled to feel we were due that bit of good fortune.

Long said: “We got a little bit of luck in terms of the goal but I felt we managed the second half quite well and James Talbot in goal was not overly tested.

“With so many injuries, the squad is really stretched but the lads continue to stand up and fight.

“The emergence of some of our younger players has been a real plus and while at this time of the year it’s all about results, the performances of the young lads have been fantastic which gives you great hope.

“We are a young, vibrant team and if we can continue to grow together who’s to say what we can’t achieve?”

The strength in depth of Bohs’ squad will be put to the test once more when runaway champions Dundalk come to Dalymount Park tonight.

Long said: “I admire Vinny Perth and his management team for what they have achieved this season.

“Stephen Kenny moving into the Irish international set-up left a void at the club, one that was quickly filled by Vinny who had worked in tandem with Stephen for many years and gained invaluable experience.

“Dundalk are clearly the best team in the land with many talented players operating in a culture rich, player-driven environment.”

As Long mentioned, his team are once again missing some of this season’s star performers.

Danny Mandroiu is away on international duty with Ireland U21s, while Keith Buckley (hamstring) and Conor Levingston (groin) are serious doubts once again.

Full-backs Darragh Leahy (ankle) and Andy Lyons (knee) are out alongside long-term absentees Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate).

Dawson Devoy and Ross Tierney have been excused from the Ireland U19s’ game against Denmark tonight and will instead link up with Tom Mohan’s side ahead of Monday’s friendly against the same opposition.

Mandroiu’s absence is all the more frustrating given that the fact he is away on international duty with the Ireland U21s this week means that his one-game additional ban for his red card against Shamrock Rovers will now not be served until next week’s Dublin derby away to St Patrick’s Athletic.

That frustration was perhaps compounded further by the fact he remained on the bench for the Ireland U21s’ 0-0 draw with Italy last night.

Long added: “The FAI rulebook continues to be a source of frustration. Danny should serve his additional suspension tonight but because he is deemed ineligible due to his involvement with the Ireland U21s, this suspension rolls over into next week. This is a ludicrous situation.

“We are effectively being punished for having players involved in international set-ups. In the case of Danny, he came back from the last U21 squad injured and missed three games before returning to play against Rovers.

“He served his automatic game on Friday last v Cork and will now miss tonight’s game and next week’s game v Pats, meaning he misses three games instead of two.

“This is not correct or fair on clubs who put a heavy emphasis on youth development. It is in fact anti-development. If we are serious about moving forward with a new FAI, the rulebook is a good place to start. It needs to updated and modernised so it is fit for purpose and doesn’t punish clubs that are doing their business correctly.”

“At times it may get tough and we might need a little help over the line from our fans”

UEFA YOUTH LEAGUE
Bohemians v PAOK
Wednesday October 2 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.30pm

Craig Sexton has called on Bohemians to make the most of home advantage on and off the pitch against PAOK in the first leg of their Uefa Youth League tie at Dalymount Park tomorrow.

Admission is free for all and Sexton is hoping that will help get the Dalymount Roar behind his side from the off and bring a positive result over to Thessalonica for the second leg in three weeks’ time.

Ireland manager Mick McCarthy took time out of his squad announcement press conference earlier today to wish Bohs good luck in the tournament – and Sexton is banking on that goodwill to be echoed from the Jodi Stand.

Sexton said: “We are going in with a positive mindset that we want to win the game. We’re not going in to contain them or to see how the game goes – we want to win it.

“We want to bring a positive result to Greece, so that means we can’t just sit back and see how things happen. We are at home so the onus is on us to win.”

PAOK, whose senior team have a strong European pedigree in recent years but lost both Champions League and Europe League play-off this season, have a superior pedigree in this competition.

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They progressed through two rounds of the Uefa Youth League last season – beating AEL Limassol and FC Minsk – before narrowly losing out 1-0 to Tottenham.

This is Bohs’ second successive year in the competition. In their debut season, they lost out out 4-2 on aggregate to Danes FC Midtjylland, but were up against a side with designs on winning the competition and who subsequently knocked out giants Roma and Manchester United before bowing out against eventual winners Porto.

It was a commendable effort by a Bohs side depleted due to the tournament’s complex and unfamiliar eligibility rules, something they have learned from this season.

Sexton said: “Preparations have been great this time around. They’ve been a lot better than last year.

“That’s not a negative towards how we prepared last year but they’ve run a lot smoother in terms of player availability. We are without three of our older guys – Marlon Marishta, Peter Adigun and Mikey O’Keane – but we found out a lot earlier who we’d have, so we’ve had a lot more time to prepare.”

When the draw was made last month, Sexton admitted he knew little about the opposition but he and his backroom team have been working hard gathering information since.

He said: “By hook or by crook, we’ve got information on them! We’ve had to beg, borrow and steal to get as much information as you can but we’ve managed to our hands on footage.

“We’ve done our homework. We’ve watched them. They’ve seven players who played for Greece against the Ireland U17s in the European Championships in Dublin over the summer too.

“That’s an indication of the level of player. That finished 1-1, Greece scored late on. They are a strong outfit.

“They played the likes of Spurs. They’ve played top quality opposition in this tournament already so that could be a challenge. They’re more used to this, perhaps more comfortable with it than some of our boys but that’s fine.

“But they are coming to Dalymount – they won’t be used to that! We need to take advantage of that.”

The level of support for Bohs’ second leg tie against FC Midtjylland last year gave Sexton’s side a noticeable lift.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Bohs briefly led on away goals after Ali Reghba’s first-half penalty put them ahead on the night.

It was also something of a celebration and coming together of all the hard work that has gone on behind the scenes at youth level at Bohemians and through the club’s partnership with St Kevin’s Boys, with whom many of the current U19s have cut their cloth.

Sexton sad: “It was a massive plus for us having our players exposed to that environment with a big crowd behind them. The lads were really able to feed off the fans in what was a new experience for most of them.

“We need that again against PAOK. We need the place full, noisy and boisterous. We need that and more. At times it may get tough and we might need a little help over the line from our fans.”

The likes of Reghba and Andy Lyons made their mark in this tournament last year and with a first-team manager in Keith Long willing to give youth a chance, more will be looking to follow them and, most recently, Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy, into his thoughts.

Sexton added: “This is a chance for them to showcase what they can do. They’re putting themselves on a stage. Instead of playing in Blanch IT they are playing, hopefully, at Dalymount Park in front of a couple of thousand people.

“As a group they get to show how good they are. A lot of them have been around the first team now which is a big help. They’ve seen big nights in Dalymount.

“Hopefully that will make them a bit more comfortable. A lot of them have experience from last year too which they can carry into this year. They shouldn’t be overawed. They might be but they shouldn’t be!”

WATCH: Alex Kelly, Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy talk to FAI TV

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