Heary says league damaged by Mons demise as Bohs brace for derby duel

Aidan Fitzmaurice

BOHEMIANS were one of the main beneficiaries from Monaghan United's exit from the football scene this week, as the removal of Monaghan's results from the record books saw Bohs move up two places in the league table.

But veteran Bohs defender and assistant manage Owen Heary, who has seen his fair share of off-field disasters and controversies, says that the Monaghan episode this week has only done damage to the image of the league.

Domestic action resumed following a mid-season break over the last 24 hours with last night's gripping five-goal battle between Shelbourne and Shamrock Rovers, and that carries on tonight with the rest of the league programme, where the St Patrick's Athletic - Bohemians derby is the stand-out game.

But Sligo Rovers have a free weekend as Saturday's fixture against Monaghan United is, like Monaghan, just gone, has expired, has ceased to be.

"It's heart-wrenching but once again it just makes the league look bad and it does no one any good," says Heary, who is expected to return to the Bohs starting XI in Richmond Park having missed the last five games due to injury.

"It's hard enough to attract people and sponsors to the league without this happening to a club and it reflects badly on the whole league. We have a good product here but we are going the wrong way about promoting the league and the game.

"I feel sorry for the players and staff at Monaghan. Monaghan put a budget into the FAI and the FAI accepted that but all of a sudden the club can't afford to pay their players?

"I said this from the time I was at Shels, the clubs should be able to prove that they have the funds in the bank, that they have a certain amount of money there before they can sign players. Clubs will always try and stretch themselves if they are let," added Heary.

"Look at Bohs at the moment: we have completely cut our cloth to suit our measure. We have the smallest budget in the league, along with Bray, but we still have good players. Hopefully we can generate more income and better gates and build as a club for next season, but for now as a club we are living within our means.

"We have players who are getting buttons for playing for Bohs. There are lads here who are earning about six times less than players are getting at clubs who are around us in the table. We haven't had a problem with wages at this club this season, and being in Europe is a big boost for us as well.

"We have the draw for the Europa League on Monday and hopefully we will get a good draw in that," added Heary, hoping for a good few days for his club, who had a successful end to the first part of the season with a four-point haul from games against Shels and Sligo Rovers as well as a comfortable FAI Cup win.

"Tonight's game against Pats is a good chance for us. If we beat them we will be in touching distance of Pats in the table, only three points behind them, so we'll try to win the game tonight and move up the table.

"The mid-season break probably came at a bad time for us as we were on a good run but we'll try to carry that form on into the second half."