Sexton wants Dalymount Roar behind U19s in Uefa Youth League

Craig Sexton and Alex Kelly - Stephen Burke

Bohemians U19 boss Craig Sexton wants the Dalymount roar behind his side in the Uefa Youth League next month.

In Nyon, Switzerland, yesterday the Bohs U19s were drawn to play Greek side PAOK in the first round of the Champions Path of the competition.

The Gypsies are at home first at Dalymount Park on Wednesday October 2 with the return leg in Thessalonica three weeks later on October 23.

The winners of the tie will face Dynamo Kyiv of Ukraine or Shkëndija of North Macedonia in the following round.

Sexton said: “We don’t know a whole lot about PAOK yet but we obviously know their first team has been quite successful in European competition.

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“So it’s a massive game against a club with big European calibre. It’s a huge honour and opportunity for our players. They’re testing themselves against the very best in Europe at their age.”

A crowd of 1600 got behind the Bohs U19s in Dalyer last year for the second leg of their Uefa Youth League tie against Danes FC Midtjylland.

There was a sense of realisation for supporters and members of the club of the hard work being done behind the scenes at youth level.

Bohs Honorary Secretary Stephen Lambert, Bohs-SKB Technical Director Alan Caffrey and Bohs U19 boss Craig Sexton at yesterday's draw in Nyon

Bohs Honorary Secretary Stephen Lambert, Bohs-SKB Technical Director Alan Caffrey and Bohs U19 boss Craig Sexton at yesterday's draw in Nyon

That is from Sexton’s U19s all they way down through to the player pathway partnership teams with St Kevin’s at U17, U15 and U13 level and beyond at both clubs, with the proof being in the success stories being brought through to Keith Long’s first team: the likes of Warren O’Hora, Andy Lyons, Paddy Kirk, Daniel Grant, Ali Reghba, Ryan Graydon and Ross Tierney among others.

Sexton’s side are chasing a third league title in a row, hold a 14-point lead in the Northern Elite Division and have also qualified for the final of the Enda McGuill Cup once more where they will face Shamrock Rovers.

But representing the country in the Uefa Youth League is the pinnacle of their achievements and a chance for the players to show what they can do on an international stage.

Sexton said: “We got a big crowd behind us at Dalymount last year and we’ll need that again. Now that people have seen what we can do last year we might get an even bigger crowd.

“We’ll be up against a side with good pedigree so a big support behind us at home in the first leg will be important.”

Sexton and his staff are still exploring the logistics and travel arrangements for the return leg.

He said: “Travel-wise, it’s going to be a challenge for us. It’ll be a long way to go for the team but that will be part of the experience.”

Last season Bohs lost out 4-2 on aggregate to Midtjylland, who subsequently knocked out giants Roma and Manchester United before bowing out against eventual winners Porto.

Sexton’s selection options were curtailed last year due to the competition’s complicated player eligibility rules and was forced to raid the Bohs-SKB U17s and U15s to fill his substitutes bench.

Sexton said: “Last year was a hugely positive experience for management and players and their development. We all learned a lot from it.

“We don’t have quite the same issues regarding eligible players this year so we will have a larger pool to pick from this year, so thankfully we have more options than we did last year, but we will still look to include some U17s.”

 

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