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O'Hanlon cherry picked!


Josh O'Hanlon

Josh O'Hanlon

Josh O'Hanlon

TEENAGER Josh O'Hanlon is determined to be one of the hits, and not the misses, among League of Ireland exports abroad following his move to Bournemouth.

The striker had just one season in senior football with Longford Town last season, but he did enough to spark interest among a batch of cross-channel teams and after a series of trials – including two Premier League clubs – he opted to join Championship outfit Bournemouth.

Given that he last played a competitive game in October, Santry lad O'Hanlon has some catching up to do in terms of match fitness, and Bournemouth could adopt him as a long-term project, as happened with recent LOI teenage exports Seán Maguire (West Ham) and Jack Doherty (Ipswich), both still awaiting their first-team debuts in England.

Cherries manager Eddie Howe is aware of the striker's potential and said he sees O'Hanlon as one for the future, but the former St Kevin's Boys forward is keen to make an impact and make the most of his cross-channel opportunity.

"Players from the League of Ireland have done well in England, the likes of Séamus Coleman and Kevin Doyle, and I hope to follow in the footsteps of those people," O'Hanlon told the Herald, the 18-year-old still settling into life as a full-time pro in England following his first day of training with the Cherries yesterday.

"Some great players have come out of the League of Ireland in the last while, if you get a chance you have to prove you are good enough and that's what I want to do.

"If I can develop the way I plan to, I feel I can break into the first team here and do well for Bournemouth.

"I want to progress my career now, so if Bournemouth decide to put me into their development squad for the next few months that's fine. I am at a full-time professional club now and hopefully I can develop here and break into the first team.

"I know I need to learn more and develop, but I am willing to do the work. It was straight to work for me, I came over last Tuesday and watched their first team play, we signed the deal on the Wednesday and, yesterday, I was in for training, so I am looking forward to getting going.

"I am just relieved to have the deal done and get signed up, it was a long process since the end of the season with Longford," added O'Hanlon, who has also made international recognition one of his aims as he has never been capped at any level so a place in the Irish U19 squad is an immediate target. A host of English clubs were keen to take a look at O'Hanlon after he caught the eye with Longford in the First Division last term, and a series of trials started: Peterborough United, Wolves, Manchester United, Crystal Palace, Burnley and finally Bournemouth, the place where he felt happiest.

"No disrespect to the other clubs, but I just knew once I went there that it was the place for me," he says. "The other trials all went okay, and it was a great experience to go to Man United."

Manchester United know all about St Kevin's Boys as United signed Robbie Brady from the Dublin nursery and O'Hanlon is grateful to St Kevin's for helping him get this far.

"Kevin's have developed so many players over the years and they really helped me, they helped me get where I am, especially in my last year people like Elliot Morgan and Joe Byrne were great for me," he said.

"I also owe a lot to Tony Cousins and Longford Town. Tony was the first League of Ireland manager who showed an interest in me and took a chance on me. He felt I could really develop there and hearing that from someone like Tony gave me a lot of confidence," he added. "A lot of people look down on the League of Ireland and they don't rate it, but I have played in it and I know how high the standard is," said O'Hanlon.