Dawson Devoy undaunted by the challenge of big European nights

Promising young Bohs midfielder relishing the prospect of Thursday's visit to PAOK

Dawson Devoy: ‘The more first-team games you play, the more you get noticed.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Dawson Devoy: ‘The more first-team games you play, the more you get noticed.’ Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

 

Dawson Devoy should be intimidated. The full PAOK treatment is guaranteed tonight. The teenager will be hounded at every turn in central midfield, all around him the ultras should live up to their ranking, by the good folk at Bleacherreport.com, as the third most hostile stadium on planet football.

“There are some mad videos on Youtube!”

Devoy sounds positively delighted to play the Christian in this Thessaloniki Lion’s den.

“Those are the games you want to play in, you want to play in big games. I’m looking forward to it.”

The gifted 19-year-old finds himself at a crossroads that will eventually signal the direction Irish football travels in the 2020s and beyond. A first among equals in the League of Ireland, not yet snapped up by an English or European club, what Devoy does next should take everyone along for the ride.

He can hardly be accused of taking his time having joined Watford three years ago. No blame is handed out, but after a couple of months he wanted to resume life as a Dub exiled in Meath rather than Vicarage Road.

“It was just myself, wanting to come home, nothing to do with the club, I just wasn’t ready at that stage, now I’m playing week in, week out with Bohs and enjoying my football.”

At least he was able to take the plunge. New laws created by Brexit have slammed that door for Irish talent until they turn 18.

“I think obviously first-team football is very important. I’ve got the opportunity at Bohs as does Ross [Tierney] and a lot of young players. The more first-team games you play, the more you get noticed. Yeah, that’s what you want, to play first-team football.

“I wouldn’t have considered myself a late developer. If that is what that was called, that’s what you call it. I couldn’t really control my growth. But in the last few years I’ve got a bit bigger and got noticed a bit more.”

Bohs’ conditioning coaches Remy Tang and Andrew Conway are doing their job.

Fully focused

“I think obviously I was young going over there, I was 16. I wasn’t probably mature enough to be there. In the last few years, I’ve definitely matured a bit more so, yeah. At the moment I’m just fully focused on Bohs, I have not really thought about much else.”

Fair enough. He does have the biggest challenge of his fledgling career to focus the mind. What has been so impressive about Devoy’s five European outings this summer is how he retained the same influence when the calibre of midfielders spiked. Same easy touch, same scanning eyes, same gliding ball to the only teammate in space.

“It’s tough and you always have to be on top of your game in there because it’s always tight, especially in League of Ireland games. It’s 1-0, 2-0, it’s never really a big scoreline so you always have to be fully focused.

“I’m loving it in the middle of the park this year. Bucko [Bohs captain Keith Buckley] has been great for me obviously, he does an awful lot of hard work which does not go unnoticed.

“The games at The Aviva have been unbelievable, playing on a pitch like that you cannot really have a bad game. I’ve been loving it.”

As the hype grows, backhanded compliments are describing Bohs striker Jamie Mullins as the next Dawson Devoy. The elder teenage shrugs and unloads an easy opinion on his 16-year-old teammate.

“Jamie has been with us for over a year and he’s been really good. He’s a very technical player. He’s still very young and has a lot to learn, the same as myself. He’s a big talent and he’s got a big future ahead of him.”

They all do, starting now.

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