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Bohemians begin Uefa Youth League campaign away to Danish champions

Craig Sexton’s talented side face FC Midtjylland tomorrow evening.

Bohs' U19s lifted the Enda McGuill Cup in September.
Bohs' U19s lifted the Enda McGuill Cup in September.
Image: Sam Barnes/SPORTSFILE

BOHEMIANS U19S WILL make their European debut in the Uefa Youth League tomorrow (5.30pm Irish time).

The Gypsies follow in the footsteps of Cork City and UCD as the third Irish club to take part in the competition after claiming the U19 SSE Airtricity League last season. 

They have followed up that success by claiming the Enda McGuill Cup while finishing second behind St Patrick’s Athletic in the U19 Northern Elite Division.

Placed in the Domestic Champions section of the Uefa Youth League draw, Craig Sexton’s side have been paired with Danish champions FC Midtjylland in the first round.

They have made the trip to play in Wednesday’s first leg at the Arena Herning, before the return tie at Dalymount Park on 24 October. 

Eligibility rules mean Bohs won’t have full-strength squad to choose from, but Sexton — a former Gypsies goalkeeper — is remaining positive. 

“We’ve got a strong XI, and a couple of lads up from the 17s,” he said. “Our hands are tied a little bit around the eligibility of the players with the rules the way they are.

“We’re going over there to win the game, make no mistake about it. At times, we’ll have to be smart about how we play but we’re going to look to play as we normally would and try and take the game to them.

“The players have delivered so we’re going to trust them to play. They’ve played first-team games, they’ve won cups so this is just another stage of that success.”

Craig Sexton and Pascal Millien U19s boss Sexton (pictured here with ex-team-mate Roberto Lopes and Pascal Millien of Sligo Rovers) is a former Bohs goalkeeper. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

A number of his players recently featured in Keith Long’s first team as they defeated St Pat’s 3-1, which as a proud moment for Sexton and his staff.

“It was great,” he says. “That was the pat on the back. For the team to go to Pat’s and win, it was immense. They looked comfortable and that’s testament to the club, and the way the under-age teams train with the first team.

The lads are comfortable moving up to the first team and to see so many of them perform in the Premier Division is why we’re here. For us, as the U19s staff and for the kids, it’s dreams come true.”

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Sexton adds:  “It’s going to be a fantastic experience for them. It’s going to test them, physically and mentally, but it’s something we’re all looking forward to.

“I’ve had a few videos of them, they look very good but we’ve got a couple of game plans that we’re looking at. We’re not going to change anything for them, we’re a good side and we can play, and that’s what we want to do.”

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Ben Blake

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