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Friday 23 February 2018

Long: 'Kevin's link makes us strong'

Bohemians' Ryan Grayden in attendance at the Bohemian FC/St Kevin’s Boys partnership launch at Dalymount Park in Dublin yesterday
Bohemians' Ryan Grayden in attendance at the Bohemian FC/St Kevin’s Boys partnership launch at Dalymount Park in Dublin yesterday

When he was on the coaching staff with the senior team at Bohemians, coach Alan Caffrey had an idea about youth development which was laughed at.

It's taken more than a decade but the Phibsobro club now have something in place which is less of a laughing matter, and while it's early days in their partnership, both sides in the union between Bohs and St Kevin's Boys maintain that the alliance will bear fruit.

"There was a conversation I had with a Bohs board member after I came back from West Brom," says Alan Caffrey, now a coach at nursery club St Kevin's who was on the staff at Bohs under Gareth Farrelly and even had a spell as caretaker manager after Farrelly's exit in 2006.

"One of the comments I made was 'you would have to invest in your youth system half of what you invest in the senior section' and in them days it was probably laughed at.

"It's great for Irish football that it's starting to turn around. The investment isn't as massive as what it needs to be, but at least we're at a starting point and the two clubs can come together and produce that excellent schoolboy situation that everybody looks for."

Bohs and Kevin's have joined forces to field a team in the new U15 national league, which starts next month.

There's a clear crossover: the home kit will be in the Bohs colours, the away jersey in the famous tangerine of St Kevin's, but both clubs' crests will be on the kits.

It's taken a while to get the deal over the line, Bohs previously aligned with the NDSL, but first team boss Keith Long sees potential.

"I think it makes us very strong as a club. It gives us an opportunity to sign some of their best young players and the chance to bring players through with the onset of the U13 and U15s leagues," says Long.

"The demographics and geography of the two clubs makes sense.

"We're a northside club and St Kevin's have a long established tradition in terms of producing players and are also a northside club.

"We certainly believe that it's a partnership that will reap rewards by seeing players come through."

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