Bohemians’ Under-19s target European success against PAOK
Coach Craig Sexton boats a strong squad for meeting with Greek side
Dawson Devoy in action for the senior Bohemians side in the EA Sports Cup quarter-final against Cork City at Dalymount Park. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho
Bohemians’ Under-19s kick off a big couple of weeks on Wednesday evening when they take on PAOK in the Uefa Youth League at Dalymount Park (7.30 start, free admission).
The team lost out narrowly to Midtjylland at the same stage of the competition last year but coach Craig Sexton has quite a few of the same players available this time around, something he is hoping will help the team in their attempt to progress at least one round.
“There are six or eight of the lads from last year, so that will stand to us,” he says. “A few of them, the likes of Ross Tierney and Dawson Devoy, have also been around the first team recently and that should be a help too. The aim here is to get the lads used to being involved in big nights but clearly a few of them already have that bit of a head start over the others.”
There are a couple of more established first-team squad members, like Andy Lyons, who are still eligible too but Sexton’s reticence regarding their availability at a time when Keith Long is anxiously trying to ensure his side qualifies for Europe next season, suggests they will not be involved.
“We haven’t made a decision on that as a club,” Sexton says, “but obviously the first team is the priority and it’s vitally important that they qualify for Europe over the next few weeks.”
Sexton’s side have some other big games coming up themselves with a League quarter-final against Galway United and League Cup final against Shamrock Rovers to prepare for before the return leg in Greece. For the moment, though, they are completely focused, he says, on getting through to the next round of this competition.
“That’s the target the lads set themselves at the start of the season and they are desperate to do it,” he says. “It’ll be a slightly different game to last year’s in terms of the way they set up, but equally or even more challenging, both tactically and physically.
“PAOK have dominated youth football in Greece over the last number of years [they made it to the third round of this competition before being beaten by Tottenham last season] and their senior team has been reasonably successful in European football.
“But we are hopeful that we can put ourselves in a good position by putting in a strong performance in front of what we are hoping will be a good crowd at Dalymount Park.”