Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Every time the Irish international squad assemble-and for sustained periods either side of their gathering- many column centimetres are occupied by the subject of the most important job in Irish football. At the time of writing, Stan is still the man, however tenuous his grip. But his is not the most important job in Irish football.

That grand title is currently in storage, polished and ready to adorn it's new owner. And that person has been touted to be just about anyone from Mary Robinson to Bertie Ahern. The official line is that the vacant position has not yet been offered to any of the applicants. The future of Irish football, happily, is not entirely dependant on the fortunes of our national side.

This particular saga began as August faded away to be replaced by an impatient September. Gareth Farrelly had just been removed from office at Bohemians, the soon to be richest club on the island. And therein lies the nub.

The fantastic advances of our club sides on the European platform this season have served only to create a demand for even more improvement; the next stage is the group stage. And Irish clubs now believe it is achievable. Realistically it's only achievable for the handful of full time outfits in the eircom League.

Shelbourne led the way in past years with rampant investment in their playing staff - this progression led other clubs to up their status in an effort to compete with the Reds. The effect of this on the finances of the clubs has been severe. Therefore to aspire to the next stage will take some careful fiscal planning.

Not so for Bohs. There is a pot of gold at the foot of the red and black rainbow, which hangs over Phibsboro. The club most likely to make the step up are embarrassingly comfortable for the foreseeable future. Properly managed, it is within their gift to take eL football into the honeypot of the group stages of European competition.

The management of this sticky opportunity presents a considerable challenge to the good folk of Bohemian FC, a club whose fans are not renownedfor affording managers the benefit of the doubt; or that other commmodity coveted by managers- time. Remember the exemplary managerial skills of Derry City's vaunted leader, Stephen Kenny, were unceremoniously discarded by the Gypsies in the not too distant past. Hopefully their hindsight influences their foresight, for this is one call which they must get right for the good of Irish football.

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