Fenlon: I fear Bohs can’t fulfil cup fixture

AS the competing clubs in the Setanta Sports Cup gathered at FAI headquarters in Abbotstown yesterday for a pre-tournament media day, it was not the news anyone wanted to hear — Pat Fenlon saying that Bohemians might not be able to fulfil their opening fixture against Portadown at Dalymount Park on Monday, February 21. And it has been confirmed that, if the holders are forced to pull out, their place will be taken by UCD.

“I don’t think we are going to be able to play the first game,” said the Bohs manager. “We don’t have a team.”

Despite the lifting of the threat of a winding-up order against the club, Fenlon made it clear the turmoil has wrecked his pre-season preparations.

“We’ve four players signed at the moment and that’s it,” he said. “And I don’t know what the situation is in relation to signing other players. We can’t train. We trained for two weeks and I then had to cancel it last week because all the staff are gone. You can’t train without a physio or anybody else. That’s where we stand at the moment.

“At the moment we’ve got Glenn Cronin, who is probably going to be out until May after a cruciate operation. I think Owen (Heary) is still at the club, as far as I’m aware, and Chris O’Connor is still here, as far as I’m aware. Barry Murphy, I’m not too sure about. So, we’ve got two goalkeepers, an injured midfielder and a right-back. I don’t think we can fulfil that fixture.”

Fenlon’s concerns came as an unwelcome surprise for Setanta Sports Cup chairman Milo Corcoran who was suddenly forced to contemplate the tournament taking place without its holders.

“That’s the first I’ve heard of that, there are things you read and hear but there has been no official communication from the club,” he said. “We’ll speak to the club now. There is a provision within the rules that if a club can’t take part, they have to be replaced by another club. The club would be UCD, they’re next in the league. But it will be a disaster from our point of view (if Bohs can’t take part). I hope they will get the players in.”

Bohemians official Denis Maher made it clear that that was certainly now the club’s intention. “We weren’t in a position to sign players until the issues are resolved,” he said. “You can sign players up to 24 hours before the game. Now we must work to get a squad of players together.”

However, Corcoran implied that a de facto deadline would come sooner than that.

“We’ll have to get an indication from them about how serious they are about doing that,” he said. “We would expect they’ll have to give us an indication this week. We’ll have to put UCD on notice.”

Meanwhile, Fenlon warned he would not be signing any new players while some non-playing staff at Dalymount are still awaiting monies due. Asked if he was at the end of his tether at Dalymount, Fenlon replied: “I’m very close to that. I want to make sure all the players are sorted out and that’s resolved.”

Fenlon also revealed his own contract has not been honoured.

“I am owed money, but I’ve been owed money a long time,” he said.. “It’s something I’m probably used to now.”

In better news for Bohemians, Fenlon was able to confirm young striker Paddy Madden has signed for League One side Carlisle United for a fee reported to be around €100,000.

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