One of the most under appreciated stories in Galway sport is unfolding. Every Saturday morning at Millars Lane and across the road at Gaelscoil Mhic Amhlaigh, Bohemians’ revival continues.
A traditional force in the local game for so long the past couple of decades has featured testing moments when tough decisions had to be taken. A willingness to invest time and energy into the juvenile set-up, though, is now being reflected with more than 200 underage members.
That is a clear sign of progress with the well regarded Gavin Greaney, a club stalwart, who recently took over as manager of the junior team at the club, hugely encouraged. “It is going very well, we have more than 200 juveniles at the minute as well as 30 adults,” Greaney says.
“I wasn't there for the start of it - Tom Trill, Darren Corcoran, and Mike Cubbard, I think, started it off. There was no point really going ahead for the future with Bohs unless we had something juvenile kickstarted. You can only go year to year with junior.
“The boys did a great job for the first couple of years, I got involved two years ago with the U8s, the Academy has just grown since. It is not easy, you are kinda of stuck between Salthill and Knocknacarra, Corrib Rangers are there too. The numbers are flying and we actually don't have enough pitches for what we have.”
Everybody associated with Bohs acknowledges it will be a gradual process, but the fact that the U8s were invited to participate alongside Salthill Devon and Mervue United is another source of optimism according to Greaney.
“We were up in Salthill last week for a blitz, ourselves and Mervue,” he adds. “Just to be playing against teams of that calibre, they are famous around Ireland for their youth systems, but we held our own up there. We had four teams of five at U8s, I was very proud of them, putting it up to Salthill and Mervue is never easy.
“It is all trial and error, but we have five teams competing in leagues now from U15 down. We are getting there, it will take a few years, but it is all going well.”
A decade and a half ago Greaney joined Bohemians. “A good friend of mine was playing for their B team Simon Gilligan in 2007,” he recalls.
“I was training with Corrib Rangers B team at the time, but I was finding it hard so I said I would go up to give it a go. They were welcoming from the first night up there and I never looked back really.”
As a player, administrator, and coach Greaney appreciates the value and importance of community. Now that Bohs are developing different challenges exist. “The pitch at the minute is the thing, we are trying to fit everyone on to the one pitch,” Greaney says. “Apart from that it is fine, it is brilliant to see a Saturday morning up in Millars Lane.”
Greaney is kept busy with the junior outfit too. Securing promotion from a competitive third division is the task for Greaney, who took charge just before Christmas. “It is very good,” he says. “Our last manager Jimmy McDaid is gone back to Scotland so I knew all of the lads quite well, I played football for a few years with a lot of them so I said I would step into the breach for the time being to see how it goes until the end of the season. Hopefully we can kick on, we are still in with a chance for promotion.”
Briefly Bohs opted not to have an adult team to concentrate on the juvenile teams. “The plan was to have no junior team for at least five years,” Greaney explains.
“I did a season with West, I had a great time there actually. Jimmy McDaid and I decided that we would go to the committee to see if we could get the junior back up and going again. In my view anyway it is pointless having all these underage teams if they are just going to another club as they get older. So they trusted us and I think we have done a good job up until now.”
Families with strong connections to Bohs will always occupy a central role. “The Naughtons are back involved, Cathal is going to assist me until the end of the season, we got Aidan back too, the lads are Bohs through and through, Aidan has 16 goals this season, he is flying it, ” Greaney replies.
Other players in the squad are beginning to learn about Bohs’ decorated past. “Some of the lads playing wouldn't be from Galway, they wouldn't know about the history of the club, listening to Aidan's teamtalks they wouldn't be long finding out,” Greaney laughs. “The passion is there.” That is precisely why Bohs are planning and plotting for the future.
**Listen to the full interview with Gavin Greaney on this week's 'Cian on Sport' podcast available on Soundcloud, Spotify, and Apple Podcasts.