“Everyone was buzzing last week and we need to bring that confidence into tonight’s game”

Bohemians v Shelbourne - Extra.ie FAI Cup First Round

BOHEMIANS v UCD
SSE Airtricity League
Friday August 16 2019, Dalymount Park, 7.45pm

On and off the field, you get the feeling that Andy Lyons is a young man with the world at his feet.

Off the field, like 56,000 students across the country, the self-assured 19-year-old received his Leaving Cert results last week and yesterday, before training in the evening, he sat down to digest his first CAO offer and consider the next steps.

On the field, it has been such a whirlwind few months for the young full-back that it is hard to fathom how he combined his Leaving Cert studies at Blackrock College.

But just like how he took to being thrust into the demands and spotlight of first-team football, not a lot seems to faze him on that front either.

He said: “It was great to get it over and done with and I’m very happy with how I’ve done.

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“I haven’t quite decided what course I want to do yet but I’m looking at courses in business, sport and communications and I’ll have a good think over the next while.”

He will put those considerations to one side once more tonight when he is likely to line out at right-back again when Bohemians host UCD at Dalymount Park.

Lyons, who came through the Bohs system and U17 and U19 level, broke into the first team last season, making four starts and one substitute appearance in the league having initially been tested in the Leinster and EA Sports cup competitions.

But he has come on even further this year. He has been involved in nine league games of which he has started eight and played the full 90 minutes.

And after his Leaving Cert, there was the small matter of starring for his country as Tom Mohan’s Ireland reached the semi-finals of the European U19 Championships.

His performances in Armenia didn’t go unnoticed, with Bohs manager Keith Long acknowledging: “Andy had a great tournament and the feedback from Tom has been top notch. He has coped well with any challenges he’s come up against so far.”

Lyons, who joined Bohs from Long’s former club St Joseph’s Boys, is grounded and appreciates the role his manager and backroom team have played in getting him to that point.

And having captained Craig Sexton’s Bohs U19s to league and cup glory last season, he is now hungry to progress even further in the first team now too.

He said: “I’m really grateful to Keith and Trevor for trusting in me and giving me the opportunity to play first-team football. It’s been an unbelievable year for me.

“Playing the league had me in good stead going to the Euros. We were playing against the best players in the world at that age group, players at some of the biggest clubs and leagues in the world but first-team football prepared me well.

“I was pleased with how we fared and how I did myself personally too. We were unlucky to be playing a really good Portugal team in the semi-finals. Losing that game was disappointing. On another day we might have done better but overall the tournament was an amazing experience.”

Lyons’ most recent game-time has seen him make the most of the opportunity afforded him in the absence of suspended skipper Derek Pender.

‘Detser’ sits out again tonight as he completes a four-match ban for the part he played in post-match scenes when Bohs faced – and lost to – tonight’s opposition in Belfield last month.

Those unnecessary scenes were instigated by the provocations of UCD goalkeeper Conor Kearns, who also remains suspended for tonight’s game as a result of his idiocy.

Lyons said: “I was away at the time at the Euros so I didn’t see the whole incident but I know there was a bit of handbags at the end.

“Detser is a hugely important person to the team and at the club so it’s never going to be easy for me to stay in the team but when I get an opportunity to play I want to make the most of it.”

While Lyons is bidding to do enough tonight to keep Pender out of the team on his return from suspension, he is quick to point out the huge influence his captain has had on his development as a player.

He said: “Detser has been great to me as he has been to all the younger players and squad as a whole. He looks after all the younger players.

“You learn so much from him all the time both on the pitch and off the pitch but because we play the same position, he has taught me so much on top of that.

“He makes you a better player every time you train with him. He’s been marking some of the same players for 8/9/10 years and he will always help me by giving me little snippets of information on them if I’m playing and how to mark them.”

Having come unstuck when the sides last met and having lost to Finn Harps in their last league outing, Bohs know there will be no room for error if they are to regain the third place position they ceded to Derry City with that defeat in Ballybofey.

Lyons said: “We’re under no illusions going into any game that we have to be at it. We lost to them out in the Bowl and even when they came to Dalymount the last time they gave us a really good game in the first half.

“They’ve already beaten us so will feel confident again so we have to be at our very best.”

But Bohs are confident too. Poor defensive lapses saw them 2-0 down in last week’s Extra.ie FAI Cup tie against Shelbourne but the manner of their six-minute turnaround to win the tie has their tails up.

Captain on the night Keith Buckley led by example and his goal sparked the comeback on 85 minutes, while some magic from Danny Mandroiu saw him equalise three minutes later before sealing the deal injury time.

Lyons added: “We shouldn’t have been 2-0 down in the first place so that was disappointing from a defensive point of view. But the most important thing was we showed our character as a team to dig deep and turn the game around.

“Even at 2-0 down, we believed we could get back into it and at least bring the game to extra time… but to win it in normal time was special.

“I think fans are getting used to seeing a bit of magic from Danny but Bucko’s goal was excellent too. Obviously the fans, everyone at the club and in the team were buzzing all week and we need to bring that confidence into the UCD game now.”

TEAM NEWS

Skipper Derek Pender serves the final game of his four-match ban for the part he played in a post-match flare-up the last time these sides met.

Rob Cornwall (Achilles), Ryan Swan (hamstring) and Kevin Devaney (hip) are all available for selection once more, but James Finnerty (calf) is a doubt.

Long-term absentees Dinny Corcoran (ankle) and Cristian Magerusan (cruciate) remain out.

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