Friday 22 November 2019

Sexton backs Gypsies' U-19s to compete with full-timers

Sexton: “It is going to be tough, but we can do it. I think the boys believe that, which is important.” Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile
Sexton: “It is going to be tough, but we can do it. I think the boys believe that, which is important.” Photo by Seb Daly/Sportsfile

Aidan Fitzmaurice

On paper, Craig Sexton knows that his team should have no chance. But he will remind his Bohemians U-19 players that they will be playing on grass, not on paper, at Dalymount Park tonight (7.0).

And despite the financial gulf between the two clubs, Sexton has backed his side to compete when they face Midtjylland in the second leg of their UEFA Youth League tie, with the Danes 2-1 ahead from the first leg.

Time spent around the Midtjylland set-up earlier this month showed Sexton - a Bohs fan who went on to play in goal for the first team before embarking on a coaching career - just how big a deal the Danes are.

"They are more or less full-time - they even have accommodation on site in their academy. They are a good outfit, their players are in six days a week, they have lots of money behind them, a brand new stadium.

"They also have a brain scientist working there. He looks at the players' cognitive decision-making throughout training sessions and games, trying to test them in different ways. That doesn't come cheap.

"It's slightly different to our resources but it shows how much we do punch above our weight as a nation from underage when we are competing in games like this.

"In theory, when you put it on paper, they should be out of sight but they boys did well in the first leg. They worked really hard."

That work ethic came through in the away leg when Bohs recovered from a sloppy first-half display, and a 2-0 deficit, to nick an away goal from Steven Nolan, one of the U-19 players who has already tasted first team action.

"I wasn't that happy with the lads in the first half and they know that, we didn't pass it as well as we normally do at home and I'd expect that to be better.

"It is going to be tough, but we can do it. I think the boys believe that, which is important," added Sexton.

"The players have had a really good season and we don't want to take away the belief in the group, we need to believe that we can do something.

"What we asked of them going over there was to bring back a positive result and they have done that, we have something to play for here, hopefully we get a big crowd on the night and give it a good go."

The complicated competition rules has denied Sexton access to players like Danny Grant, Jamie Hamilton and Cristian Magerusan.

But talents like Ali Regbha, Steven Nolan, Andy Lyons and Promise Omochere will play and a batch of cross-channel scouts will be at Dalymount tonight.

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