Bohs’ Danny Grant (file pic). Ryan Byrne/INPHO

'My confidence was at an all-time low. Hopefully, I can get myself into the team now'

Bohemians player Danny Grant reflects on a tough period.

ON FRIDAY night, Danny Grant experienced a joyous moment that has been all too rare in recent times.

Introduced off the bench in the 86th minute, the 24-year-old headed home in stoppage time to salvage a point for Bohemians at home to St Patrick’s Athletic.

It was the first goal of the season for the winger whose delight was palpable.

It has been a long and difficult journey for Grant, who began his senior career at Bohs in 2018.

He swiftly caught the eye, winning the PFAI Young Player of the Year award in 2020 and earning a move across the water to Huddersfield.

There was widespread expectation that Grant would kick on in England, but he did not make a single first-team appearance for the side playing in the Championship.

Bad luck was a significant factor. The Dubliner tore his right hamstring not long after signing with the Terriers.

After regaining fitness, Grant promptly tore his hamstring in the other leg.

Consequently, his only senior appearances in England were during a loan spell at Harrogate Town.

Grant played 25 matches in League Two before Huddersfield announced that his contract would not be extended in the summer of 2023.

The player subsequently returned home and re-signed for Bohemians, but since then, nearly one year on, he has struggled to reproduce the type of form that earned him a move across the water in the first place.

“It feels good,” he said after Friday’s late equaliser. “It’s been a tough period in my career, the toughest period I have had, since coming back, so it’s good to be on the scoresheet.

“It would have been better to get the three points that we deserved. If the game had gone on for another few minutes, I think we’d have nicked it, but we’ll take the point — St Pat’s in a Dublin derby, it was scrappy, but we’ll take it.”

Grant acknowledges that he has struggled on and off the pitch since coming back to play in the Premier Division.

“It’s been difficult and it affected me. People around me, my mam and dad and people here at the club, the physio, they spoke to me. A few weeks ago the physio asked me if I wanted to speak to the PFAI psychologist, people who know you can tell it’s affecting you.

“Football is, for me, pretty much the only thing I have in my life, I have my family and friends, but I don’t really have any other hobbies. Football is everything to me so when it’s not going well, it gets really difficult. When it’s like that all you can do is keep going and hope your fortunes change and for me, hopefully, this [goal] is the start of that.”

Grant is not the first Bohs player to speak out about the psychological challenges he has faced, with defender Paddy Kirk recently opening up about overcoming performance anxiety. In addition, last January, the club announced goalkeeper James Talbot would be taking time away from football to address mental health challenges.

Grant continues: “The physio spoke to me about [sports psychologist] Mark Larkin from the PFAI, and I will go and speak to her. I saw the interview with Paddy [Kirk], JT [James Talbot] has spoken about it, it’s more normal now to speak out, and sometimes you need that. You might have a voice you can speak to in your family but it can be difficult to go to someone who’s not in that situation. I will speak to her in the coming days as I have thought about it. Thankfully in football now, it’s more normal for people to reach out.” 

The winger has managed to largely avoid injuries, aside from a few niggles, since re-joining Bohs and says “mainly” a lack of confidence has held him back.

“It tends to be spells where you get 10-15 games in a row that you build confidence and I’ve not had that, my confidence was at an all-time low. Hopefully, I can get myself into the team now, get back-to-back games and move on.”

Grant also knows how tenuous life as a footballer can be, particularly in the League of Ireland where contracts tend to be shorter and less lucrative than across the water.

“The standards and the expectations have gone up since the manager came in, there is always that doubt in your head, if you are going to be here, that’s the nature of football in this league. There are only 10 teams in the league and you have to earn the right to be at a big club like this. This is one of the biggest clubs in the country so there are doubts but you have to trust yourself, back yourself that it will come good.”

Despite recent struggles, Grant remains a fan favourite, as emphasised by the reaction to his late goal by the Dalymount crowd on Friday.

“The lads were just saying that they love me but I need to repay that over the coming months. It was brilliant hearing that song ring out again, so hopefully I can get back into the team and repay the fans.

“I feel I have a debt to pay, it’s a club I came through at a few years ago and I am always trying my best, it’s not been a case that I wasn’t trying. I come in every day and train hard, as hard as anyone at the club, no one can ever say I don’t work but it needs to come good for me in terms of confidence. I need to back myself a bit more and hopefully, it will come. It’s difficult when confidence is low and you’re not playing, everyone has a difficult patch in their career I have been going through now, and I feel I will come out of it.”

He continues: “You need to be playing every week, that’s how you become a better footballer. You can train and do all the extras after training but you need to play, you can only improve by playing every week. I need to do that, but I also need to earn that spot in the team, there’s more competition here in the squad than there has been at Bohs for a long time, it won’t be handed to me and I know that.

“Hopefully [Friday is] the start of a good run from me — for me being in the team. I can’t expect to walk into the team just because I scored one goal, I need to show the manager what I can do, show the manager that and get into the team, and get my confidence back.”

alan-reynolds Bohs boss Alan Reynolds praised Grant after his equalising goal on Friday. James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

Meanwhile, Bohs boss Alan Reynolds backed Grant to overcome his difficult spell.

“To be fair, I haven’t given him loads of chances. I perhaps need to repay some faith in him after a goal like that. Hopefully, it’s a kickstart for him now.

“You don’t become a bad player overnight. I suppose he’s lost a bit of confidence and it’s up to me and the staff to get that back into him.

“He’s desperate to do well, desperate to do well for this club that’s for sure.

“We’ll keep working with him.”

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