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Heary feels Fenlon deserves to shake off shackles at Hibs

IT WAS last March when Pat Fenlon had a taste of what life would be like as an employee of Hibernian FC.

Now, the 42-year-old gets a chance to do it for real, as Fenlon was confirmed as the new manager of the struggling SPL side today.

And it's thought that his assistant at Bohemians, former Ireland international Liam O'Brien, will move with Fenlon to Scotland to take up the same role, though Curtis Fleming could also form part of a backroom team in the new set-up headed by Dubliners.

"Struggling" is the key word there as Hibs -- after a very disappointing spell under manager Colin Calderwood -- are languishing in the bottom half of the league table. So a push for a European place looks beyond them and a run in the Scottish Cup is about the best they can aim for.

They're not quite a financial basket case like their city neighbours Hearts, who have been unable to pay their players in recent weeks, but Hibs are not awash with cash and any new signings by Fenlon are likely to be free transfers.


He's likely to resist the temptation of signing a batch of players from the League of Ireland, but players who have worked with him before, like Joseph Ndo and Mindaugas Kaklonas, may get a call in the coming days.

But despite those possible struggles, Fenlon is relishing the chance to work at a big club like the Edinburgh outfit, free of the stresses which became part of the day job at his last place of employment, as Fenlon's duties at Bohs went well beyond the brief of first team manager.

There's a story that one Saturday morning last season, Fenlon went down to Dalymount Park ahead of a reserve team game. Not only did he have to open up the stadium as no one else was about, he also had to clean and wash out the dressing rooms, which had been used for toilets at a function in the club's bars the night before.

Hard to imagine Neil Lennon or Ally McCoist rolling up their sleeves and getting busy with a bucket and mop to clean up the aftermath of the night before, but such was life in the League of Ireland.


Fenlon saw the potential at Hibs first hand last season, when Bohs played the SPL side at Easter Road in a friendly requested by the Scottish side. Fenlon and his backroom team were given a tour of the stadium and the purpose-built training ground, where the facilities made Bohs look worse than Third World, if that's possible.

"I remember when we were over there last year, we all had a look around and Pat said to a few of us, 'wouldn't it be amazing to be able to come here as a player and have this every day?'," says Owen Heary, now out of contract with Bohs after a successful five-year spell there.

"Their training ground, the kit room, the medical facilities, the stadium -- everything was a world away from what we have in the league at home and if the deal goes through and Pat gets to manage there, it will be just brilliant for him to have all that at his disposal.

"I have no doubt that Pat will be a success at Hibs. He will throw himself into it fully, he'll work 24/7. You could see the work he did at Bohs behind the scenes and he'll want to do that at Hibs too. I think he'll work out well."

Hibs were set to unveil Fenlon to the media today, but there was a chance they would allow caretaker boss Billy Brown to remain in charge for tomorrow's game away to St Johnstone.