Airtricity League 2012: 5 quick questions for Bohemians manager Aaron Callaghan

We count down to Friday’s kick-off by grabbing Bohs’ new boss for a chat on his squad, the league, and European football.

Aaron Callaghan on the terraces of Dalymount Park.
Aaron Callaghan on the terraces of Dalymount Park.
Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

AARON CALLAGHAN WILL be ready for a baptism of fire when he heads north to the Brandywell on Friday evening for his first league game in charge of Bohemians.

Callaghan’s new-look squad came back from their first trip north of the border with a 3-1 aggregate win against Portadown and a place in the quarter-finals of the Setanta Sports Cup last week.

But Derry City will be a tougher prospect. They’ve got their own new man in the dugout in Declan Devine, and he’ll be looking to build on last year’s third-place finish and maybe even to get one over on the club which now looks likely to take that final Europa League spot at Derry’s expense.

With plenty to look forward to, caught up with Callaghan for a three-minute chat ahead of Friday’s big kick-off.

How’s the mood around Dalymount in the build-up to the first league game of the season?

It’s been a hectic four or five weeks because we had to sign 26 or 27 players and we’re trying to gel them, bed them in, and put a bit of shape on the team. That came to fruition over the last few games, so the atmosphere at the moment is very good.

You’ve pretty much had to build your current squad from scratch over the winter break. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

It can have advantages and disadvantages. I think the advantages are that you can bring in your own men, put your own stamp on it and put your own team together. It gives you six, seven, eight weeks then to prepare in terms of pre-season.

The other side of it then is that you have a bit of continuity with a team. Most of the teams in the league now have some continuity behind them, two or three years. That’s the down side of it, we don’t have that continuity. But as I said, on the plus side, I can put my own stamp on things.

How much of a boost will it be if Bohs do get that final European place?

It hasn’t been confirmed yet, but if it is confirmed, it’s a fantastic addition for the club. From financial gain, the club will make a few pound out of it which is badly needed, but also from the experience that these young kids will get playing teams all over Europe. It’s fantastic for them.

I was involved in it last year [as first-team coach] with St Pat’s. We managed to get three trips to Iceland, Ukraine and Kazakhstan. As a coach, you learn so much talking to other coaches from different clubs in different countries. I really enjoyed that experience and I think the players will when the draw is made.

What’s a realistic target for the coming season?

I think the main thing for ourselves is that we want to win something.

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We’re playing for three or four trophies if you count the Leinster Senior Cup. That might be an area where we can blood some of the youngsters like we did last year — Owen [Heary] did a fantastic job with the U19s and they got to the final of the Leinster Senior Cup. And then we’ve also got the League Cup, the FAI Cup and the league.

The league might be a little bit beyond us in terms of resources and budgets, but certainly we’ll acquit ourselves very well in the other two cup competitions. If we can consolidate ourselves in the league over the coming eight or nine months, I think that will be a pretty good season.

Who are the teams to beat?

I don’t think there’s a weak team in the league this year. I definitely think it’s going to be much more competitive than it was last year.

Generally if you look across Europe, you’ll find that most of the teams that are winning — whether it’s in the UK or Italy or Spain — are the teams with the most resources. If that’s the case, then you’ve got to be looking at Shamrock Rovers, Cork who seem to be throwing a few pound in, Shelbourne and Sligo Rovers. I think it’s between those four.

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Niall Kelly

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