Bohemians complete partnership with St Kevin’s Boys
Bohs manager Keith Long praises quality of players coming through Dublin nursery
Bohemians players Steven Nolan, Jamie Hamilton and Darragh Leahy with St Kevin’s Boys Michael and Zach.
After a couple of break-ups and the sense for a while that the FAI might have to persuade the two parties to complete the union at the end of a shotgun, Bohemians and St Kevin’s Boys formally announced their new partnership at Dalymount Park on Tuesday with both sides proclaiming that they had only ever had eyes for each other.
“I think it makes us very strong as a club,” said Bohemians manager Keith Long. “It gives us an opportunity to sign some of their best young players and the chance to bring players through with the onset of the under-13 and 15’s leagues.
“St Kevin’s have always produced players of a high standard and quality so it made sense for us.
“The demographics and geography of the two clubs makes sense too. We have got quite a number of St Kevin’s Boys in our system at the moment playing at all the levels – the under-17, 19s and into the first team – and we certainly believe that it’s a partnership from which we will reap rewards.”
For Alan Caffrey, once a Bohemians player himself and now head coach at St Kevin’s, the collaboration is something that makes perfect sense from both sides, although he admits it took a while for everyone to come on board.
“It was important that everybody from our club and everyone from Bohemians bought into it . . . we’re not two separate clubs, we’re now working together and look forward to bringing young players and sitting in the stand and watching them make their debut here.
“I don’t think there’s a young lad out there that doesn’t want to be a Jeff Hendrick or Robbie Keane [who both came through the club]. I don’t think that will ever change, but the misconception is that Kevin’s were just producing players for England. The reality is that we had more players playing League of Ireland than we ever had playing first team in England.”
Both sides hope to produce players that are ultimately capable of following the likes of Brady and Hendrick and playing at the highest level but Caffrey sees the link as a way of building a bond at an early stage between young players and Bohemians, something he believes will benefit everyone.
“I think that seeing is believing. If Kevin’s teams come here on Friday night, the under-eights say, and they are doing that for a couple of years well, the kids get a feel for the club, they want to play in front of the fans and everything else,”said Caffrey. “I think that’s what the partnership brings, our young lads can come to a stadium and watch players, sit in the stand and say, he used to play for St Kevin’s and I think that’s massively forward for us, for Bohs and for the league, that kids are buying into that.
“I used to come here as a kid. I know from experience, the younger they come the more often they come the more I think they will buy into it, the more they will bring their friends. That can only be a good thing.”