Friday 19 January 2018

Callaghan believes in Bohs' kids


THURSDAY will be a proud day for Bohemians manager Aaron Callaghan when he leads his team out against Iceland's Thór Akureyri in their first qualifying round first leg Europa League tie at Dalymount Park (7.45).

"I had a good few years in Europe with St Pat's and Crusaders as a player, and with Longford Town and last year with Pat's as a coach, but this is my first time to manage a team," he said.

"It will be a proud moment for me, but, more importantly, it will be very good for the players' development. We will give them all the information we can, and then it is up to them to concentrate on keeping the ball. They have to show courage, leadership, get the ball down and pass.

"That is the philosophy of this club. Most of them are young kids, with great potential, but they have to turn that into performances."

After a very poor start to the campaign -- they didn't win a game or score a goal until their sixth outing -- Callaghan's young side appears to have come to terms with the league. With his knowledge of Icelandic football from his time at Pat's last year, Callaghan is approaching this game more in expectation than hope.

"Thór are a lower-division team from a place 600km north of Reykjavik," he said, "and they qualified through getting to the Cup final. My understanding of the standard in Iceland is that it is similar to our own. While they have mostly Icelandic players, they also have one or two from around Europe.

"I'm going into this game with the expectation of winning it. From what I've seen, they are not world-beaters. It's a difficult tie, but we won't be shy of giving it a go."

The one area where Callaghan is weakest is in European experience. For most of his squad, it's a journey into the unknown and he can only hope they react well to the occasion.

Meanwhile, across the city at Richmond Park, St Patrick's Athletic will renew acquaintance with ÍBV Vestmannaeyjar, the team they eliminated at the same stage last year. On that occasion, Pat's played the away leg first, lost 1-0, and won the return 2-0.

While manager Liam Buckley would prefer to play away first, he knows that íBV will be expecting a torrid welcome -- and he doesn't intend to disappoint them.

"At this level, there's a fine line between playing to win matches and playing not to lose," he said. "To win, you might set up at 4-3-3, while hoping not to lose it would be 4-5-1."

It will be 4-3-3 as usual for Pat's as they hunt the win, and they have loads of European experience in their ranks, from goalkeeper Brendan Clarke right through to striker Christy Fagan, who scored for Bohs in last year's competition. In addition, there's the Richmond Roar, which has heralded a number of good results in Europe in recent years.

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