After a bittersweet first taste of Premier Division football last year, new recruit Jack Memery is hungry to prove himself and is relishing the prospect of calling Dalymount ‘home’ this season, writes CILLIAN SHIELDS.

Left-back Memery watched on from the sidelines as his Shelbourne team-mates suffered relegation in 2013, but he feels he is ready to establish himself in the top tier and is confident that with Owen Heary’s fresh blend of youth and experience, Bohemians can aim high this season.

Memery, 20, said: “After seeing the lads Owen has signed and having trained with the team for a few weeks now, I think it’s going to be a very big year for Bohs.

“Owen’s retained most of the squad from last year and added in a few more experienced players with a lot of quality. I think we’ll be out of the relegation fight for starters and I think we’ll be able to push on and do very well.”

But 2014 could have been a different story for Memery.  A meniscus tear (knee cartilage) at the beginning of last August saw him miss the business end of Shels’ ill-fated season, a situation that made it all the more difficult to find a new club this year.

Memery said: “I was a bit caught in no man’s land for a while because of my injury and I was sort of going off the radar. I was debating whether I should go back to Leinster Senior football, or even just go back to playing with my mates!

“Obviously I wanted to go back to the Premier Division but I wasn’t expecting any calls because my name wasn’t out there. I missed the second half of the season last year – in my eyes the busy half – but then I met with Owen and everything he said to me was positive. He really wanted me to join, which was great. You can tell a manager’s honesty when chatting to him face to face.”

And the chance of honing his skills under the guidance of the most decorated player in the league’s history – himself a former full-back - was too big an opportunity to turn down.

He explained: “The main reason I chose Bohs was Owen’s experience as a full-back. When you’re a young player like myself, inexperienced and trying to break into the league, and when Owen Heary takes over a club, probably one of the best defenders the league has ever seen, there’s no better man to learn from.

“Having him coaching me week in, week out will no doubt stand to me for the rest of my career.”

Heary wasn’t the only pull factor. Players past and present gave the former Shamrock Rovers Under-19 star glowing reports of their time at Dalymount. Memery revealed: “I knew a few lads off the team, the likes of Pico Lopes, as well as some of the lads who were here last year like Michael Barker and Chris Lyons.

“They absolutely loved football at Bohs and not one of them have a bad thing to say about it. They told me training is great and the people are great. There are no big egos around and it’s a great place to be and play your football.”

With the league season kicking off in little over two weeks’ time, Memery admits he cannot wait to take to the field at Dalymount Park. He is fully aware of the stadium’s rich history as the ‘Home of Irish football’ and is looking forward to being able to call it his own ‘home’ from now on.

He said: “It’s absolutely huge to call Dalymount my home. Only a few years ago, I was playing in parks and up the maddest of mountains.

“Now I play in stadiums and Dalymount’s history is just incredible. When you walk into it, you get that special feeling. It’s overwhelming. I look around at it and tell myself, ‘I’m going to play here for a year’. It’s huge, legends have come out of here. This is Dalymount Park!

“I really want to cement my place in the team here and get my name out there. Staying injury-free and looking after myself is important. I just want to help the team achieve their goals and become a known player in the League of Ireland with Bohs.”

Outside of football, Memery is a first-year Business student at DCU but doesn’t envisage any time management issues.  He added: “It’s not too difficult balancing studies and football, they don’t really clash at the moment.

“That’s another great thing about playing for Bohs – they cater for players like me who want to play but also have to work or study.  It  was another reason why I wanted to join.”

Jack turns 21 on March 5 but will put the celebrations on hold as Bohs kick off their league campaign against UCD just two days later. He’s holding out for the perfect gift – three points away at the Belfield Bowl!

Pictures by A. Baldiemann and David Lane

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