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Heary relishing new Bohs role

PRE-SEASON beckons, although not as Owen Heary knows it. These are humble times, a marked contrast from the lucrative, trophy-laden decade that preceded Irish football's recession.

The seven-time league winner is used to returning from a break to dressing-rooms packed with experience and quality, and where success is anticipated.

But 2011 at a stripped-down Bohemians gave Heary a taste of a different environment, though Pat Fenlon was still able to draw on a reasonable number of old pros to maintain a degree of familiarity.

This year is different. Heary will report for duty on Monday with more than just the hard graft of fitness work on his mind. He is the assistant manager to Fenlon's replacement Aaron Callaghan, the boss of an U-19 side that will supplement a first-team squad with marginally more experience, and may also have to assume the responsibility of making sure the kit is washed and looked after.

Heck, he might even do some paperwork as well. "Sometimes, I come in and do a bit of shredding," he jokes.


This is the next stage of the 35-year-old's career. In reality, there was no alternative. He is a football man. While former team-mates from his Shelbourne and Bohemians days have either cracked it across the water, or dropped away from the game, Heary is pursuing a fresh goal with modest short-term rewards.

"I do anything that needs to be done," he says. "Whether it's going to Macron getting gear down, or getting gear washed for the U-19s. Whatever it is, I live up the road, I don't mind doing it.

"I'm used to full-time football, and I'm doing nothing at home. So, I can sit there and the wife will have me doing everything or I can come down here and give a hand. I still have the time to go up and collect the kids from school. Two or three hours a day isn't going to hurt anyone."

There's no glamour involved. Heary is on the road to completing his badges and learned under Fenlon last year, assuming control of the Leinster Senior Cup side. Callaghan has come in with a good reputation for grooming young talent and Heary wants to hone his coaching skills while hopefully offering something on the pitch.

As it stands, he will be the only 30-something in a playing squad made up of 17 to 23-year-olds. Callaghan has retained most of the youngsters who broke through last year, with minimal funds to offer. He is selling the chance to play regularly for Bohemians as an alternative to sitting on the bench and collecting a few more quid elsewhere.

Chris Forrester, a promising winger, is the only one yet to commit -- he has had an offer from St Pat's.

"I enjoyed last year," says Heary. "You look at a young lad like Bucko (Keith Buckley). He scores against Shamrock Rovers and then he goes to work in the Windjammer (pub). The next day, he's there holding up the pints.

"Anyone who is coming here now, it's not for financial gain. They're playing for the jersey and trying to make a name for themselves."

Heary has told Callaghan that three or four have a chance of progressing across the water and they will be signed on semi-pro rather than amateur terms.

"If they move onto UK clubs, that's only going to be good for us," explains Callaghan.

His vision for Bohs is to follow the UCD model, but that will require forging a better relationship with colleges in the area. For Heary, it's like going back to school. "I'm sure the young lads will be caning me, calling me grandad," he says, before adding with a mischievous smile: "I still haven't been beaten by them in a race, or lost a five-a-side game."

The endgame has changed, but the competitive spirit remains.