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Bohs fan favourite Grant keen to be part of 'golden generation'

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Cult hero: Danny Grant

Cult hero: Danny Grant

Cult hero: Danny Grant

It's the most exciting group of attacking Irish players in a generation, meaning that Stephen Kenny is utterly spoilt for choice when he picks his starting XI for the Ireland U21 team.

Premier League players such as Troy Parrott, Adam Idah and Michael Obafemi are in there, as are footballers playing below that division but still at a high level, the likes of Jason Knight (Derby), Zack Elbouzedi (Lincoln City) and Connor Ronan (now on loan to Blackpool after a spell in Slovakia).

Bohemians winger Danny Grant had a flavour of that international experience when he was called into the squad by Kenny for the most recent qualifiers, wins in November against Armenia and Sweden, the student drafted into the panel as a reward for a strong season where he helped the Gypsies to a third-place finish and European qualification for the first time in eight years.

He didn't get to play but his spell in the squad has given him a taste for more as well as a realisation of how difficult that will be to achieve.

"Definitely, staying there is going to be tough," says Grant of his ambitions of remaining in Kenny's plans.

"People are talking about this generation as a golden generation, especially with all the attackers playing around the Premier League.

"Obviously there is talent all around the squad but the attackers seem to be doing really well.

"Getting in was tough and a great achievement but now I've to stay in, which is going to be even tougher," added Grant.

"It's made me even more hungry to push on. Obviously I'm happy to be involved with the 21s, but I want to play, whether that is coming off the bench.

"I want to be put in strong performances from the start this year and hopefully get called in, March is the next camp for the 21s so it's definitely given me a taste for it."

International football is a new experience for Grant, whose only cap came with a home-based squad at youth level.

Grant was playing for Bangor Celtic at Leinster Senior League level when he was spotted by Bohs so his progress in three years is head-spinning, he admits. "It's a big rise," he says of his move to Bohs.

Massive

"It's just a massive club, I just took a different route. I wasn't really involved in any underage Ireland teams, I didn't have any caps at 15s, 17s, 19s. I took a step back from football for a while, went Leinster Senior League and got into the Bohs 19s."

The move has worked and Grant has become a popular figure with the Bohs supporters, to the extent where he opened his doors, literally, to fans keen to carry on the celebrations of that top-three finish at the end of last season.

"It was a bit of a mad night. We were on a big high, they shut the [Dalymount] bar and I said 'Ah, head back to mine'," says Grant. Fifty Bohs fans took up the offer and ended up in his house.

"The next morning It wasn't in the best of nick. My ma came home and gave it a bit of a scrub, gave me a few digs as well," he joked.

Three weeks out from the start of the new season, the focus is already on going one better.

"Trevor Croly said at the start of pre-season if we perform as well as we did last year and finish on the same points, we won't get third this year. Everyone is expecting it to be a tougher league," Grant says.

"Waterford have brought in some good players, Cork are trying to rebuild, same with Pat's. They're going to be clubs who will striving to push on us but we don't want to look down, we want to look up, see can we close the gap."