League of Ireland club Bohemians and schoolboy nursery St Kevin’s Boys have formally announced a partnership that will see the clubs work closely together on youth development.
The partnership will see a joint team bearing the crest of both clubs compete at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 National League level, with an Under-13 league also in the pipeline.
Both clubs fielded separate sides in the Under15 league during its inaugural 2017 season, an interim measure approved by the FAI while the clubs thrashed out a long-term joint venture.
“Bohemians was always our first choice and the first club we sat down with,” said St Kevin’s Boys head of youth development Alan Caffrey at the launch of the partnership in Dalymount Park.
“It just took a bit longer than we thought it would. We now look forward to bringing young players and sitting in the stands watching them make their debut here.”
The underage teams will wear Bohemians’ traditional black and red at home while their changed away strip will be tangerine – St Kevin’s Boys colours.
It was important to both clubs that their symbols and identities remain distinct and that underage sides be recognised as a willing partnership rather than one taking over the other.
“Obviously, Bohemians has a massive tradition and so does Kevin’s. It was important for people that they seen both identities in the club.”
“Having the crest on the jersey, having the away jersey tangerine, we’re happy that nobody’s lost any identity.”
Caffrey himself was an important link between the two clubs. He was assistant manager to Gareth Farrelly after returning from an academy role with West Brom in 2005 and was caretaker manager following Farrelly’s dismissal in 2006.
Much of what the Dubliner has sought to achieve with the merger has its roots in that time, when he observed the sorry state of underage football in the National League.
“Funnily enough, it was a conversation I had with a Bohs board member when I came back from West Brom and I asked about the youth section.
“One of the comments I made, I remember where I was when I made it, was you would have to invest in your youth system probably half of what you invest in your senior section.
“And of course in them days it wasn’t looked at. It was laughed at probably. It’s good for Irish football that they’re starting to turn it around.
“Obviously the investment isn’t as massive as it needs to be, but at least we’re at a starting point.”
Bohemians present Chris Brien added: “While our elite section has been successful to date with our previous link to the NDSL, we can move to a different level with this partnership.”