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'They can remain in Ireland, complete their education and still play football at an elite level'

The Bohemians-St Kevin’s Boys link-up was made official at a launch today.

Steven Nolan, Jamie Hamilton and Darragh Leahy with St Kevin's Boys youngsters Michael and Zach.
Steven Nolan, Jamie Hamilton and Darragh Leahy with St Kevin's Boys youngsters Michael and Zach.

THERE WAS A significant step in Irish underage football today, as the Bohemians-St Kevin’s Boys link-up was made official.

Under the agreement, the two clubs are set to enter a joint team into the 2018 SSE Airtricity U15 League, which begins in March, with Ger Browne as manager as well as Glen Byrne and Greg Donohue on board in the backroom team.

It was also confirmed that a similar plan will be initiated for the SSE Airtricity U13 League, which gets underway in March of next year.

St Kevin’s Boys are arguably Ireland’s most famous schoolboy club — recent players who have come through their system include Robbie Brady, Jeff Hendrick, Stephen Ward and Matt Doherty, while Ireland and Arsenal legend Liam Brady is also among their most famous graduates.

There were plenty of connections between Bohs and Kevin’s even before the link-up was announced. Six members of the Premier Division side’s first team — Phillip Gannon, Jamie Hamilton, Darragh Leahy, Karl Moore, Keith Ward and Dylan Watts — previously lined out for the schoolboy outfit, while a number of Bohs’ underage players also once wore the famous tangerine shirt.

“I believe it is a perfect match between a club with a great history in schoolboy football and the oldest senior club in the state, one with its own wonderful history over 128 years,” Bohemian FC President Chris Brien said in a statement.

“While our elite section has been successful to date with our previous link to the NDSL, I believe we can move to a different level with this partnership.

“St Kevin’s have produced a number of outstanding players over the years and this partnership gives a clear pathway for their players to go from schoolboy football, through the elite teams all the way into the senior team. It also means that Bohemians are getting excellent young players at all levels. It is a definite win-win situation for both clubs.

“Players will also win. They can now see their future stretch before them and there is no rush to try and get a move abroad. They can remain in Ireland, complete their education and still play football at an elite level. If they do eventually move abroad they will be more mature and, hopefully, be better prepared to handle the situation.”

Bohemian FC / St Kevin's Boys Partnership Launch Glen Byrne, Ger Browne and Greg Donohoe. Source: David Fitzgerald/SPORTSFILE

St Kevin’s Football Director Ken Donohoe added: “It is an opportunity for both clubs to further grow and present a clearly defined pathway for coaches and elite players from the youngest age groups at foundation level right through to the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division and beyond using the expertise within both clubs that have made them so successful in their respective spheres up to now.

“The complementary nature of this partnership will be unmatched as the full weight of experience of nearly 60 years that SKB have gained at schoolboy level is aligned to the tradition of one of the giants of League of Ireland football in Bohemian FC.

Both clubs have a strong history of developing some of the finest players that the country has produced. This partnership will only enhance that and it will create opportunities for players from both clubs to maximise their potential in a highly professional and competitive environment.

“St Kevin’s, like Bohemians, also provide football for as many players as possible regardless of ability outside of elite level and both clubs are committed to continuing that policy.

“We would like to take this opportunity to wish Keith Long, his staff and players the best of luck for the coming season and we are sure that the young players currently at U19, U17 and U15 will very soon be pushing to be a part of the Bohemians first-team squad.

“We look forward to both clubs embracing this new concept with desire, determination and commitment to making it a success that will enhance football standards in this country.”

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