AUTHOR: Kieran Burke – @Kieran_B_Sport.
It was another off-season of “what-ifs” for Bohemians supporters as the Gypsies again came close to breaking their silverware drought last year while an up and down league campaign saw Bohs also agonisingly miss out on a European place for the year ahead. As a result, it was always going to be difficult to keep the clubs top performers of last season but it could have been worse. Gone are the rising stars of Anto Breslin, Ross Tierney, Andy Lyons and Georgie Kelly, all picked off by clubs with deeper pockets while the man so synonymous with everything that is Bohemian FC, Keith Buckley has said his farewells for a new chapter in his own personal life abroad. But it really could have been worse, somehow Keith Long has managed to keep a hold of Scottish midfield duo Allie Coote and Liam Burt who are among the very best in their respective roles in the league and to be fair to the Bohs board, they’ve done their best to back the manager with some very notable reinforcements brought in during the transfer window.
Tricky winger Kris Twardek is back at Dalymount Park after spells in Poland and Slovakia while former Dundalk midfielder Jordan Flores could prove to be a magical addition by Keith Long if the Englishman can stay fit. The signing of Junior from Dundalk would concern me slightly as it almost mirrors the arrival of Bastian Hery twelve months ago but with Bohs looking light up front following their top scorers departure then perhaps Long views Junior as a risk worth taking.
As referenced above, the lack of cover for promising young striker Promise Omochere does concern me but certainly, he appeals as a player who could emerge from the shadow of Georgie Kelly and enjoy a breakthrough season. The 21-year-old impressed me towards the end of last season when Kelly was out injured and I still think Keith Long got it wrong by not starting Promise instead of Kelly in the FAI Cup final. The academy graduate will be a real handful for even the most experienced of defenders thanks to his pace, power, and strong hold-up play but should he fail to fire early on or be unavailable for whatever reason then there will be a huge reliance on the likes of Burt, Coote, Flores and Dawson Devoy to chip in with goals from the midfield, a task they are more than capable of completing by the way.
There’s no doubt about it, the mass exodus of so many talented players from Dalymount Park means Bohemians simply will not have the squad depth to go with the teams at the very top of the table but that fourth position looks wide open this season and that has to be the aim for the Gypsies in 2022 alongside ending their decade-plus wait for a major trophy.
BTS PREDICTION: 4th
STAR PERFORMER: Liam Burt
ONE TO WATCH: Promise Omochere
For more build-up to the 2022 League of Ireland season, tune in to Between the Stripes LOI podcast’s 2022 Pre-Season Special here.