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Monday 10 December 2018

Snub for young gypsies puzzles Supple

Bohemians’ Darragh Leahy
Bohemians’ Darragh Leahy
Eoghan Stokes
Bohemians keeper Shane Supple

The decision-makers in Irish football are, we are told, hunting high and low to find some talent that can get us through a very sticky spell.

Goalkeeper Shane Supple, who was part of the Ireland senior squad for a time last summer, feels that some real talent can be found on his home turf of Dalymount Park, right under the nose of the scouts, but laments that those talents are being ignored.

Bohs appear on the national stage tonight as the RTE cameras are there to cover their game at home to league champions Cork City.

Keith Long's side, who were in relegation trouble only months ago, are enjoying their best run of form in a decade, with six successive wins and six successive clean sheets in all competitions.

Defenders Darragh Leahy and Dan Casey (both 20) have played a big part in that run of clean sheets while attacking players JJ Lunney (20), Daniel Kelly and Eoghan Stokes (both 22) chipped in with goals.

No one is claiming they should have been in Martin O'Neill's squad over the last week but there's definitely a case for Leahy and Kelly making it into the Irish U21 panel.

Home-based players were selected for Tuesday's Euro qualifier at home to Germany (0-6) but none from Bohs and it's nine years since a Gypsies player won an U21 cap (Paddy Madden).

"You wonder are people even watching the games here," says Supple, himself the recipient of one U21 cap.

"Darragh Leahy has been easily the best left-back in the league this season and for that not to be recognised is, to me, crazy. You'd have to ask is it just because he's at Bohs or is playing in the League of Ireland?

"People who have these scouting or coaching roles should be able to spot a player who has consistently done it at a first team level, and Darragh has done that this season,

"I don't know if all of the players in the current U21 squad are playing first team football, but Daniel Kelly and Darragh Leahy are. And yet because players are in England, they get picked.

"The talent is there, Shaun Williams always had the talent but it's only now that he is being spotted. And I think they are getting it wrong on that front," added Supple.

It's going just right for Bohs at the moment and while progress in the FAI Cup is the priority, Supple is upbeat about facing the champions tonight.

"It's a good run and I don't think I have kept five clean sheets in a row since Home Farm's U12s," says Supple. "We struggled for long parts of the season and conceded too many goals but we are a very tight unit now, and we are scoring goals too.

"Cork are going through a sticky patch but they're still the champions and they have beaten us three times this season, but we're confident."

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