Historic first for Bohemians

Rugile Auskalnyte

It is an historic and overdue day for Bohemians tomorrow as the club enters a team into the Women’s National League for the first time.

The Bohs U17s face Cork City at the Oscar Traynor Centre at 7pm in what is another step along the way towards the goal of having a senior team in the WNL.

The Gypsies’ WNL debut comes a week late after an Ireland U16s call-up for goalkeeper Rugile Auskalnyte forced the postponement of last week’s game against Wexford.

Bohs are a bit late to the party when it comes to women’s football but great strides have been made in the bid to catch up in a short space of time.

The club made a concerted effort to build a girls section at the start of 2018 and now has six girls teams from U9 to U16.

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The addition of finally having a WNL U17s is the culmination of a lot of voluntary hard work behind the scenes under the guidance of Youth Director Conor Emerson and Girls coordinator Frank Darby.

It is hoped that the girls section will eventually echo the pathway from schoolboy football at the Bohs Youths and St Kevin’s through to Keith Long’s senior men’s team.

Managing the WNL U17s team is Seán Byrne, a former Shamrock Rovers and Bray Wandererers player, who has extensive experience with the international women’s teams and is the FAI’s Emerging Talent Programme Coordinator in Irishtown.

Byrne.said: “The U17s league only started last year.The goal is to have a pathway from girls from underage football to senior football in the same way we now have with boys.

“It will be a process that takes time. It’s Bohs’ first game at this level on Saturday and it is a historic night for the club.

“It’s our first season at this level so it will take time to find our feet but there is definitely good potential in this side.

“The end goal is that we want to have a Bohs team in the senior women’s league, whether that be next year or the year after, that is the goal we are working towards.

“We have backing at Bohs and there is a big movement across the country towards the women’s game and Bohs want to be a part of that.”

Many of this U17s team have come through together having initially played under Darby at Kilmore Celtic.

Byrne said: “We have good players, a good team. This side of the club has had to be build from scratch. But the aim is to get the club right up there competing with the established women’s teams.

“We’re competing for players with Greystones, Waves, Shels but it’s good that there is competition for players.

“Some of ours would have won the All-Ireland with Frank at Kilmore and Frank worked hard to build that connection with Bohs.”

Darby said: “It is great credit to Bohs that they took on the mammoth task of establishing a girl section while other much wealthier League of Ireland clubs have neglected to
do so.

“We had 23 girls on the Emerging Talent Programme in the summer. We have a lot of up-and-coming coaches and the whole girls section is absolutely flying.”

Those efforts are appreciated and supported from the top too, with Bohs first-team manager Keith Long adding: “It’s important that the club continues to strengthen and increases its teams across the board. It’s extremely important that we have girls teams.

“It’s really pleasing to see girls involved and playing for our club. It’s great for the club, it creates a whole different dynamic around the place. We need to develop that further too.

“As well as having international men and boys, we want to see some of our girls develop with the club and represent the international teams also.”


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