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‘I was hit over the head with a pint of Bulmers when I scored. I don't know where it came from’

Danny Mandroiu reflects on a successful June which has seen the 20-year-old named Player of the Month.

Bohemians attacking midfielder Danny Mandroiu.
Bohemians attacking midfielder Danny Mandroiu.
Image: Laszlo Geczo; ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

DANNY MANDROIU SPENT this past weekend belting out Westlife songs at Croke Park, the Bohemians attacker rightly letting off some steam following a productive month which has seen him named June’s SWAI Player of the Month.

The 20-year-old Dubliner is a big fan of the Sligo group and said he would much rather have been at their gig in Drumcondra than at Marley Park where the Longitude festival was unfolding.

June was the third month from five available that Mandroiu has been nominated for Player of the Month, having been pipped by Bohemians team-mate James Talbot in April and Dundalk’s Sean Gannon in May.

“Third time lucky,” he smiles sitting down inside the dressing room at Dalymount Park after receiving his award. The accolade comes after Mandroiu caught worldwide attention for a sensational long-range strike against Shamrock Rovers.

The forward initially missed a penalty in that crucial 2-1 Dublin derby win against the Hoops at a packed Dalymount Park.

SSE Airtricity SWAI Player of the Month Award for June 2019 The 20-year-old was named Soccer Writers' Association of Ireland (SWAI) Player of the Month for June. Source: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

But Mandroiu rallied back, firstly scoring from the spot after Bohs were awarded a second penalty, and winning the game on his own with a thunderous effort from range which was picked up by ESPN’s ScoreCentre and racked up over 250,000 views on Twitter alone.

“It’s nice to pick up an individual award,” he tells The42. “But it’s down to the players around me and the staff. They’re pushing me very hard and it’s all down to them, to be honest.

It is nice to pick up an award like this, but it’s not all about me, it’s about the players around me. They’re all working as hard as me, if not harder. We all put in a lot of work in training and in the gym. We all push ourselves and push each other.”

The Bohs man has a picture-perfect memory of his goal-of-the-season contender — an almighty effort which flew off his left boot and sizzled right into the top corner of Alan Mannus’ net. One of those strikes which the world’s best goalkeepers would struggle to stop.

“My main memory of the goal is just striking it and running into the crowd where I saw a pint of Bulmers flying past my head,” he laughs. “Yeah, I was actually hit over the head with a pint of Bulmers when I scored. I don’t know where it came from.

“The fans just made that moment unbelievable. I didn’t get any abuse from the Rovers fans, all I could hear was the Bohs supporters singing and cheering. It was unreal, it definitely is more special when you beat Rovers.

All the boys are up for it and we know this is the one game where everyone knows we have to beat them. Every game we have to win, but that game is just special to everyone in this dressing room.”

He has enjoyed an interesting career to date, still just 20-years-old and certainly with his best days to come in the next few years all going according to plan.

His coaches at Bohemians Keith Long and Trevor Croly, as well as Ireland U21 assistant boss Keith Andrews, say Mandroiu is one of the most naturally gifted stars they have seen in quite some time.

“As a player, he’s technically outrageous,” Andrews said speaking on the LOI Weekly Podcast. “If he continues to develop the way he is and adds bits of those defensive parts to his game, then the world is his oyster.”

Mandroiu started his career at St Kevin’s and moved over to Brighton at just 15-years-old. He enjoyed parts of the experience of being at a top Premier League club, but admits that it just didn’t work out. He was let go at the end of 2018 after four years at the AMEX.

Large He joined Brighton from St Kevin's Boys as a 15-year-old. Source: Brighton FC

“It was a bit of both, positive and negative,” he explains. “Everyone goes through their struggles over there and I’m not the only one. It was a weight off my shoulders, in one sense, coming home to Ireland.

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“When I came back I had a few weeks off, but then I just wanted to get straight back into football, which is what I did with Bohs. We’ve gone from there and right now I’m loving football.

I feel like I have to prove people wrong now, and rightly so. That’s just the way football goes, you always have to prove people wrong. People are always going to have their opinions of you and you just have to prove them wrong.”

The midfielder is living back at home with his mam Sarah in Ballymun and appreciates the stable environment it offers, as opposed to bouncing around different digs and temporary accommodation in Brighton.

“It’s nice, yeah. My mam gets on my nerves a few times,” he smiles. “But in fairness I’d say I get on her nerves as well. It’s nice to be home — it’s a mad, mad, mad, mad place Ballymun.‘Ballymun in the sun’, as I say, but it’s nice, I like it.

“I was 15 when I went over to Brighton and I’m still doing my growing up now. I’m only 20 but ever since I’ve come back to Bohs I think I’ve grown up that bit more. And to be honest I needed to grow up. It’s a stable environment over here.

I did have loads of friends and good team-mates over at Brighton. I had good people around me, but it just didn’t work out and hopefully now I can revive things in the future.”

Having his family in the crowd at Dalymount for his double against Shamrock Rovers was a sweet feeling, he says. There was a dramatic, last-ditch scramble for tickets to get his mam at the game (the derby was a sell-out weeks in advance), but everything ended up coming together perfectly.

“It was really special to have my mam there,” Mandroiu says. “I saw my family after the game at the final whistle in the stand and gave them all a hug. They tell me every day that they’re proud of me and that’s what I’m doing this for — I’m doing this all for them.”

Daniel Mandroiu celebrates scoring with Luke Wade-Slater Mandroiu scored twice against Shamrock Rovers in last month's derby win at Dalymount Park. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

He recently signed a new contract with Bohemians, but with goal-of-the-season contenders, Ireland U21 call-ups and Player of the Month Awards all coming in a short space of time, there is a high expectation that England will come calling again.

“Yeah 100%, I do want to go back over to England,” he states. “If not England, anywhere else like Europe or Scotland. I know I’m only 20 but I’m ambitious and have lots still to learn. I want to be at the top — I don’t mind where I play.

I do like the way some European teams play. I like the style of play, but I’m just going to see what happens. I’m not looking too far ahead, I’m just keeping my feet on the ground.

“Jack Byrne and Connor Ronan (who have played in Holland and Slovakia) are very good players, they’re very technical like myself. They’re always going to shine in a league and in a country where they play technical football and the ball’s on the floor. It gives you a boost to know you can do that, too.”

For now though, Danny Mandroiu is content to be happy where he is. He has a sense of peace and stability playing his football at Dalymount and it could well prove to be the perfect launch-pad for a second bite of the cherry in England or abroad elsewhere.

Daniel Mandroiu celebrates after the game The Dubliner has scored six goals from midfield for Bohemians this season. Source: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

Bohemians have defied all expectations this season and are punching well above their weight, in terms of resources, in search of a European finish this season.

The Gypsies are currently holding down third place with 12 wins from 24 games so far this season, with stars in the making like goalkeeper Talbot, Darragh Leahy, James Finnerty, Conor Levingston and Mandroiu leading a young and dynamic Bohs side in impressive fashion.

Keith Long and Trevor Croly have been unbelievable,” Mandroiu says laying praise on his managers. “They’re so good, Keith’s great at man-management and Trev’s an unbelievable coach. It’s just a great mix, it’s brilliant to be around.

“Us as players, we know where we should be and we know how good we are. We’ve got a few disappointing results and we know we can do more. We’ll just have to see what happens in the second half of the season.”

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About the author:

Aaron Gallagher

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