Bohs aiming to survive: Heary
OWEN HEARY has been a winner for the vast majority of his 19-season career as a League of Ireland player but he admits that survival is the sole aim for a new-look Bohemians next season.
A club which had a weekly wage bill of almost €40,000 during the boom years will operate off a tiny budget for the 2012 season, with no senior players -- bar Heary -- and a batch of kids, most of them playing for little more than petrol money.
"When I was playing five or six years ago, I was probably getting more in a week than the entire Bohs budget for next season," says Heary, who will assist new manager Aaron Callaghan next season.
None of the older pros from last season's squad have been retained, with most either going to other LOI clubs (five moved to St Pats alone), leaving the country (Anto Flood to Southend United) or just quitting the game.
Though the good news is that some of the impressive youngsters from last season, such as Craig Sexton, Keith Buckley, Stephen Traynor, Ryan McAvoy, Ricardo Lopes and Lee Dixon, have agreed to re-sign.
But while Bohs flirted with success last season, reaching the FAI Cup semi-final and reaching the top three in the league table before finishing fifth, next season will be very difficult, Heary has warned.
"I've been in the league since 1993 but this is the first year I have gone into a season just hoping that you can stay in the league," says Heary, who hopes to play as an amateur for Bohs next season while also staying on the staff as assistant manager to new boss Aaron Callaghan, and also coaching the U19 side.
"That has to be the goal for us. We have no senior players, bar me, so survival is the aim.
"All through my career I felt there was no point in thinking like that, I always wanted to win things.
"We have to be positive, try to finish as high as we can in the league, maybe try to qualify for Europe, but with the team we'll have and the budget we have, staying in the league has to be the priority.
"But we have some very good young players and maybe this can be a start for them and for the club, if Bohs can keep these young players and develop them, maybe we'll be back challenging for things in a few years."
Bohs' current status is an indictment of the craziness of the Celtic Tiger years.
Back in the boom, Bohs showed off all the trappings of wealth, such as warm-weather training camps in Spain and signing international players such as Dominic Foley.
Perhaps a sign of the madness came when then manager Stephen Kenny, looking to agree a new contract with Glen Crowe, had to travel to London for a meeting because that was where the player's agent was based.
Changed times. "We're not going to Spain or Turkey for pre-season, we'd be lucky to get as far as the Bogies," Heary said smiling.