2020 is set to be a big year for Bohemians. European football is returning to Dalymount for the first time since 2012 after Keith Long led his young side to a third-place finish last season and there is a real belief around the Phibsborough club th
2020 is set to be a big year for Bohemians.
European football is returning to Dalymount for the first time since 2012 after Keith Long led his young side to a third-place finish last season and there is a real belief around the Phibsborough club that they can improve further going into the new decade.
And that belief is well-founded given the current state of the squad. Just over a month away from the start of the new season, Bohemians have already got 24 players signed up for the new campaign.
Supporters will be delighted to see JJ Lunney return to the club after last season's spell at Waterford and will be intrigued by the signing of Glen McAuley. McAuley spent half of last season at St. Patrick's Athletic after being released from Liverpool and after a positive start to life at Richmond Park, new manager Stephen O'Donnell decided to release the 19-year old at the end of the season.
The former Republic of Ireland U-19 international fits the profile of the type of young, talented player Keith Long and his management staff loves working with, and can get the best out of.
McAuley should look no further than Dan Mandroiu for this example. Mandroiu, released from Brighton, has revived his career under the guidance of Long and was a regular in Stephen Kenny's U-21 squad last year. One of the 'hot properties' in the SSE Airtricity League, McAuley should take inspiration from Mandroiu and how to harness his talent.
Further to this point, it speaks volumes to the club that the young talent are staying put ahead of the 2020 campaign. The retention of the likes of Mandroiu, Danny Grant, Ross Tierney and Andy Lyons, all of which have been subject of interest from overseas, is better than any signing Bohemians could make.
With another year of development under their belt and with the likes of Dawson Devoy to get more opportunities to impress this year, Bohemians are going to be one of the most exciting teams to watch in the SSE Airtricity League once again.
The club should be credited for tying down Mandroiu on an extended contract last season and it is obvious the player sees the value of another year at Dalymount, at the very least.
Europe is obviously another huge attraction for the squad. With the technical, passing and attacking style Bohemians play, the Gypsies should be well-suited to European competition, as it has proved for their U-19 team in the UEFA Youth League in the past two seasons.
Whilst there is a considerable amount of continuity in the squad from last season, Derek Pender's retirement and Darragh Leahy's departure to Dundalk will alter the look of the back-four. But, the capture of Anto Breslin from Longford Town and Lyons' progression into the first-team illustrates how well Long is managing the squad's long-term strategy.
A popular new kit, a redesigned club badge, a exciting young squad and a rejuvenated and impassioned fanbase, if Bohemians thought last season was good, this season should be even better.