New Bohs boss Connor ready to do talking on the pitch

SITTING on the football ground about to turn property goldmine that is Dalymount Park, Bohemians’ long-term future looks secure, but while the envious supporters of rival clubs can already be heard muttering about ‘Bohski’ — and when did we last hear that sort of talk in the League of Ireland, eh? — the club’s manager, Sean Connor, is anxious to keep things in perspective.

“Yeah, I can’t wait to get all the money you guys are talking about,” he laughs. “And when I get that then I’ll be really, really happy. But right now I’ve got a very competitive budget, I’ve got a very supportive board and I’ve got a very expectant bunch of supporters, so we’re going to try and deliver.”

Belfast-born Connor made the move from Sligo to Dublin at the end of last season, after a campaign which left the Dalymount faithful smarting from a lowly ninth place finish.

For a club which had won titles in 2001 and 2003 and hadn’t finished outside the top four for six years up until 2005, the continuing fall from grace was hard to take.

Inevitably, the new era brings with it hopes of a return to domestic dominance but Sean Connor counsels against thoughts of overnight success.

“I’m very conscious, in particular, of the fans,” he says, “although I think Bohs supporters have always had high expectations. And that isn’t a problem.

“Part of my job is to maybe temper those expectations with a wee dose of reality. And I’ll do that. But we are putting together a good squad and, over the next two to three years, I think those supporters will have their yearnings satisfied.”

So what then is Connor’s target for the season which kicks off with tomorrow night’s televised game against title-contenders Drogheda?

“I will only be satisfied if we finish in the top four,” says the Bohs boss.

“I genuinely believe that we’re three to four players short of a championship-winning squad. But I’d rather wait and get the right players in than bring people in for the sake of it.

“Drogheda and Derry have bigger squads and have been together longer. But I’m ambitious, I want to win things and I’ll be disappointed if we’re not there or thereabouts at the end of the season.”

Not that Connor has been inactive on the transfer front. From Shelbourne, full back Owen Heary is an astute buy while Glen Crowe has returned to the club with whom he dominated the goal scoring charts for three years at the start of the decade. And set to link up with Crowe is former Cork City striker Neale Fenn.

“They’re two excellent players,” says Connor, “and I certainly wanted to see Glen Crowe and Neale Fenn play together. But I’m also excited about Darren Mansaram playing with Neale Fenn or Glen Crowe. I think Mansaram’s a great player. He’s a 22-year-old and the other two boys are closer to thirty. He can learn from them and hopefully they can get some of his youthful enthusiasm.”

While Connor proved his credentials by getting Sligo Rovers back into the top-flight, there is common agreement that getting Bohemians back to the very top will prove a much stiffer test. But it’s not one about which he appears to harbour any doubts.

“I’m ambitious,” he says. “I always wanted to manage a bigger club. Whether that was here or in England, that was my long-term plan. And it’s happened maybe a bit sooner than I anticipated but I’m ready.”

And is Sean Connor confident the new League of Ireland will be better than the old version? “To be honest with you, I’m not concerned,” he says before adding with a grin: “Sure, you’re not allowed to comment on it anyway, so what’s the point?”

High time, it seems, to do the talking on the pitch.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox