Keith Long hopes that Bohemians will be able to retain the young players who are bound to attract interest from clubs abroad on the back of the club’s remarkable run in Europe.
But the Bohs boss also concedes that the domestic league requires massive funding to bring the senior game here to another level with clubs “a million miles away” from having academy structures comparable to the situation cross-channel.
Ross Tierney (20), Andy Lyons (21) and Dawson Devoy (19) have caught the eye with their displays for Bohs in an unprecedented four-game winning run in Europe, capped off by Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat of Greek side PAOK. Formal offers have yet to come in but Long knows it’s only a matter of time before bids are made.
"You would like to think that the club can be very competitive in terms of retaining players and attracting players and growing on and off the pitch,” Long said, his focus now on Saturday’s trip south to face Waterford in the league.
"With our academy teams, the training ground, we’ve made lots of progress, our partnership with DCU that has brought things onto another level. Hopefully we can continue to retain the players that we have. Obviously, it’s going to be difficult for one or two because if they keep performing the way they are, they are going to come to the attention of bigger clubs in different countries and that’s the nature of the game, it’s the same for every team.
"We’ve been too busy focusing on football but we have a number of the boys secured on contracts secured for a year or two, but we’ve got work to do as well. Now it is our job, it is our task to professionalise it a little bit, to incentivise and give everything that we can to try and produce international footballers, for the domestic league, for the professional game in this country, which in turn can help the international team.”