BOHEMIANS veteran Dave Mulcahy believes that the current batch of young Gypsies are ready for the big tests ahead in the next week, starting with tonight's clash with league champions Shamrock Rovers.
Aaron Callaghan is really giving youth its fling at Dalymount Park this season -- of the team which started in last week's Dublin derby against St Patrick's Athletic, five players were aged 20 or younger, while the average age of that side -- when the 34-year-old Mulcahy is omitted -- was just 22.
It's a big ask, then, for that Bohs side to face up to Rovers at home tonight and also step up to the plate in European competition next week when Bohs play -- against an admittedly weak opposition in the form of an Icelandic second division side -- in the Europa League.
"These young lads have something about them. They don't have any fear and I'd have no worries about them for the game tonight or the European match next week," says former St Patrick's Athletic man Mulcahy.
"They don't get caught up in anything outside of the game. They all have a good head on their shoulders and a good attitude towards the game.
"It's a big test to play Shamrock Rovers as Stephen Kenny has such a good side and a big squad there, but I know what these Bohs lads are like and they will go out and enjoy the game tonight, the won't buckle under the pressure.
"Aaron Callaghan has been coaching them in the right way, instilling confidence while also getting them to play the right way. They have done really well so far this season and while we have a big week ahead of us with two massive games in six days, I think they are ready," added Mulcahy.
Players like Luke Byrne -- already a target for cross-channel clubs -- and Kevin Feely are still in their teens while others like Danny Joyce and Keith Buckley have yet to each their 21st birthday.
"There's a real hunger in these players to do well," says Kilkenny native Mulcahy.
"Some of them, like Danny Joyce (ex-Reading) have already been away and are keen to get back to the UK.
"Others are still learning the game but they have a great chance, and Europe is a great stage for lads like Keith Buckley.
"We are a young and inexperienced side and that shows at times. We have a tendency to concede late goals.
"Whether that's down to concentration or fitness or just experience I don't know but it's something we have to deal with," says Mulcahy.
He has a point: last week, against St Pats, Bohs were in front heading into the final 10 minutes only to lose 2-1, while against Rovers back in March, the Gypsies appeared to have a draw in their grasp, only to concede twice in the final 11 minutes.
"The big thing is to stop conceding late goals," he says. "Aaron Callaghan has worked on that in training and we spoke about it again yesterday. It's a matter of concentration for set pieces, having your focus on for the whole 90 minutes."
With only Dave Scully missing (suspended) for the game tonight, Bohs boss Callaghan has some calls to make, especially in defence as Owen Heary, Mulcahy and Evan McMillan are all available.
Rovers boss Stephen Kenny said: "We secured an important victory against Shels in the league last week, and backed that up by progressing to the semi-final of the EA Sports Cup against St Pat's.
"This is our third derby game in just over a week.
"Our players have worked very hard during and since the break, and have been rewarded with two good wins for that hard work. But we want to push on, and now is the time for that."