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Thursday 21 September 2017

Heary out to complete set

TWELVE years ago he picked up his first medal in senior football, but tonight Owen Heary aims to complete a clean sweep of honours in the domestic game and take home the Setanta Sports Cup.

Since he made his league debut as a 17-year-old with Kilkenny City back in 1993, Heary has become one of the most decorated players in the game, and he can reach another milestone in the near future as he's just nine games away from a career total of 500 league appearances.

But the Setanta Cup is the only major domestic honour, outside of the First Division which has eluded Heary.

"I have been lucky enough to win a good bit in my career so far, but I want to win the lot. It's nice to have the medals to look back on at the end of my career but I want to win them all, so this game in the Setanta Cup final tonight means a lot to me," said Heary, who returns from injury to captain Bohemians in this evening final at Tallaght Stadium.

"I look around at people like Mick Neville, who seem to win medal after medal. I think Mick has 15 trophies in all competitions on his CV. I would go up to 12 medals if we win this tonight, so a few more wins here and there and I might get to Mick's record of 15.

"I'm not the only one chasing that, Jason Byrne is there or there abouts as he's won leagues with Bohs and Shels and he won the Cup with Bray as well, so he's chasing as well.

"I didn't even come close to the Setanta Cup before as I was suspended for the final the year Shels qualified and then lost to Linfield in the final, so I'd like to get this medal.

"I'm not the only one as Stuart Byrne and Paul Keegan both won it twice when they were at Drogheda together, they're both going for their hat-trick. But they're on opposing sides now so only one of them can manage to win it," said Heary, who still recalls the first piece of silverware he picked up.

"It was back in 1997/98, my fourth year with Home Farm Everton and my last year with them as I went to Shels after that," Heary said.

"We got to the First Division Shield final, I scored in the home leg of the final and then we went down to Cobh to win it. But it was nervy enough.

"We were 2-0 up, but then Cobh scored to make it nervy at the end. We won 5-3 on aggregate and it meant a lot to me as I had my first medal, and I was fortunate to go on and pick up a few more," added Heary.

The bookmakers have Bohs as slight favourites for the final, possibly due to the fact that there's more experience in the Gypsies squad, though Pats are, of course, ahead of Bohs in the league table. But Heary is expecting a very tough test in Tallaght -- a venue where Bohs have a terrible record of three games and three defeats, against Shamrock Rovers.

"We have that edge in terms of players who know how to win things, but Pats are on a very good run of form and they are very hard to beat, very tight at the back," said Heary.

"The Setanta Cup is hard to judge because of the way the season is split and the fact that it's been so long since the tournament started and the final -- our first game in the Setanta Cup was way back in August.

"So would our team from 2009 stand a better chance of winning it than this team? Or would Pats have made the final if they still had their players from last season? It's hard to tell.

"But if you look at the two squads, you have two decent teams. Pats are in flying form in the league, they had a decent win in the League Cup as well and they have been top of the table for a few weeks now, so they'll feel confident. There will be some nerves in the two camps before the game as neither Pats nor Bohs have made the Setanta final before, so it's new to the two clubs.

"A few of the players have been here before. I think this will be Stuart Byrne's fourth time in the final so he has a lot of experience," added Heary.

"It will be a tight game, like the league game between the two clubs. I saw Pats beat Sligo in the semi-final and they played very well, worked hard but took their goals well, and we'll have to be at our best to beat them."

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