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Saturday 7 December 2019

Grounds for hope at Bohs

Anto Breslin in the new Bohemians shirt. Photo: Sportsfile
Anto Breslin in the new Bohemians shirt. Photo: Sportsfile

Bohemians still hope to be playing in a new-look Dalymount Park by 2023 as the immediate focus for the club is on a return to European competition next season after an eight-year wait.

And keeping things local is very much the plan as Keith Long builds a squad aiming to go even better than a top-four finish, with former Wolves trainee Anto Breslin joining his hometown team after an impressive one-year stint at Longford Town and JJ Lunney returning to Bohs from Waterford.

"This is my local team, I am from Blanchardstown so I am delighted to be here, my mates are more delighted than me. I couldn't ask for much more," says Breslin, one of four new signings.

"It's the best club to be at, everything seems to be going from strength to strength, it will be tough next season with the amount of games, and Europe will be a test, but I can't wait to get going, test yourself in the Premier Division and in Europe."

The Gypsies unveiled their new home kit, to be used next season in their 130th anniversary year, and some new arrivals, with keeper Stephen McGuinness (Cabinteely) and midfielder Kris Twardek (Sligo Rovers) joining Breslin and Lunney. Players like Keith Ward, Luke Wade-Slater and Andy Lyons were also retained as are U21 internationals Danny Mandroiu and Danny Grant.

One-time sponsors Des Kelly Interiors are back on board, with a four-year contract, in what the club say is their biggest-ever sponsorship deal, reportedly worth more than €350,000.

They will sponsor the kit for all teams at the club, including the underage structure.

Qualifying for Europe for the first time since 2012 has given the club a lift but the club's long-term survival rests on the development of Dalymount Park.

The initial proposal for the €30million project, funded by Dublin City Council, had planned for Bohs to move out of Dalymount at the end of the 2019 season, for Bohs and Shels to groundshare in Tolka Park while the Dalymount project was completed, and for Bohs and Shels to be playing out of a brand new 8,000-capacity stadium in 2022.

The capacity has been brought down to 6,000 but two issues have led to major delays: the government's decision to withdraw all funding to the FAI, including capital grants projects, in light of revelations this year about the FAI's financial affairs, and a dispute between Tesco and property company Mm Capital over the redevelopment of the Phibsboro Shopping Centre, where Tesco are a core tenant.

The club say they still hope to be back in Dalymount for the 2023 season, though expected news this week on an application for a €1.5m grant from DCC, so a design team can be appointed, could speed things up.

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