Bohs a joy for James after Villa
It's not so long ago that James Finnerty and Conor Hourihane were work colleagues.
Now, work means something different to Finnerty, who can be found at the heart of the Bohemians defence on Friday nights, while by day he puts in a shift, of another kind, moving kegs around in the warehouse of the Porterhouse brewery.
Hourihane has new-found status as a national hero due to his match-winning goal at Lansdowne Road on Tuesday night, while Finnerty, formerly his team-mate at Aston Villa, barely saw the Georgia game as he had training with Keith Long's outfit.
"Yeah, it is a change from training with the likes of Hourihane there who scored the other night. Then to come back and do part-time work, it is a big enough difference, but it's something I'm enjoying at the moment," says the Meath lad, an ever-present in a Bohs defence which kept successive clean sheets in the first four games of the season.
"I came back from England having played not very much first-team football, but I had a good pre-season, worked hard on that and the lads in the team have helped me. Playing beside Rob Cornwall, Derek Pender and Darragh Leahy at the back has been helpful, so I am happy with how I have started the season.
"It was tough enough to get back into it, coming home and training at night time, doing a bit of work as well. But I'm enjoying being back." The 20-year-old admits that getting his head around the fact that he was no longer working with experienced players like Hourihane, Glenn Whelan and John Terry at Villa but was back home was not easy, but something he had to do as he needed his spell at Bohemians to work once things in England turned sour.
"You have to have your head switched on. Some players come home from England and it doesn't really work out for them in the League of Ireland. But you just need to get your head switched on, work hard in training and have the right attitude to do well."
Finnerty has a back story in common with half of the team at Bohs this season: Finnerty, James Talbot, Luke Wade-Slater, Conor Levingston, Dan Mandriou, Robbie McCourt and Darragh Leahy are all back in Ireland before the age of 21 after spells in England which were largely unfulfilled.
Finnerty had a stint at Aston Villa, opted to move away in the search for first team football but that move, to League One side Rochdale, was a disaster, and less than six months into a two-year deal, he was gone, without kicking a ball for the club.
"After a few weeks there I had my mind made up that I was going to come home. I never settled," he says.
"I was there for four or five months and don't think I ever trained for more than two weeks at a time. There was either a niggly injury or I was ill. It just never worked out."
But the move to Bohs has, so far, worked out, European qualification the aim while having home games sold out (tonight's clash with St Pat' the fourth sell-out) is a bonus: "It's been great. The fans have been amazing. Playing in front of a packed Jodi is very good."