Bohs star Dylan Watts hoping to back up Tallaght heroics in tonight's Dublin derby
DYLAN Watts already knows the feeling of joining the Premier League champions, but it was a Dublin derby win in April that really put the midfielder on the map.
The loanee starred for Bohemians in their Tallaght Stadium success over Shamrock Rovers, winning plaudits from ex-players such as Keith Fahey who showered praise on social media and tipped the creative midfielder for future international honours.
Watts is a Leicester player - they were top dogs when he signed from UCD - but his future there is up for decision this summer. He has enjoyed coming back to Ireland to play for Bohs and his neighbour Keith Long, and it has probably put him in the shop window too.
Another big performance at Phibsborough tonight will help, although there's a disappointing lack of TV coverage for the sold-out showdown with Rovers desperately needing to avoid a third damaging defeat this term against their arch rivals. In truth, they could do with a win.
Watts is essential to how Bohs play and appears comfortable in the spotlight although his own social circle were focusing on different things after his inspirational show in Tallaght. "Most people were just slagging my hair because obviously I had to do the interview after the game," smiles Watts, who was sporting a peroxide blonde look. "I had a few messages about that.
"That game did help my confidence a lot," he says, on a serious note. "I played the week before against Limerick and thought I did reasonably well but that game was on the TV and I thought as a team we really turned up that night and showed the country what we were about. After that, I felt like I was really part of the team. I've tried to just keep going from there really."
Watts was a spectator when the sides met in North Dublin on the opening game of the season with his childhood friend Dan Casey - they first kicked a ball around together as three year olds - took the headlines with an unlikely brace.
That introduced Watts to a derby atmosphere. At that stage, he wasn't ready to play - he was struggling to adjust to home - but he carries himself differently now. "The atmosphere was unbelievable," he said, "When we scored, the place erupted."
Rovers have struggled when it comes to silencing home crowds this term. They have won just once on their travels, a contrast from some decent displays in Tallaght. On Tuesday, they took St Patrick's Athletic apart. The Saints are seeking to bounce back when Cork come to Inchicore this evening. With Dundalk likely to take full points at home to Bray, the Leesiders face a challenging night in Dublin 8.
St Pat's are hurting, with defender Kevin Toner admitting that Tuesday was not good enough but he is taking the view that it's only a blip. They had come into that game after four straight wins. "It's one game out of five," said the ex-Aston Villa defender, speaking on the new LOI Weekly podcast."We've won four out of our last five, that's not a bad result. We're still full of confidence."
For the full podcast with Saints assistant boss Ger O'Brien and Toner - which deals the latter's Premier League experience with Aston Villa and the process of coming home then click here