MALAHIDE’S JJ Lunney is enjoying life back at Dalymount Park as he signed off for a second stint with Bohemians ahead of the 2020 season.
The Gypsies secured European football for the first time in eight years thanks to a third-place finished in the Premier Division in 2019.
The midfielder has had to bide his time to re-enter the European arena after signing for Waterford 12 months ago with the prospect of Europa League football a big draw.
Lunney, who had played in Europe before with St Patrick’s Athletic, saw his side controversially passed over for his former club as they failed to meet UEFA ownership rules.
The Blues struggled in the league, rallying to a sixth-placed finish following a difficult season while Keith Long’s Bohs challenged for the title.
And the 22-year-old former Sunderland trainee feels like he’s already back in the nest of home comforts after joining centre-back Dan Casey in signing for a second stint.
“It’s nice to come back to be fair,” Lunney told Dublin Gazette following Bohs’ last-minute defeat to arch-rivals Shamrock Rovers on the opening day.
“It does feel like home. No disrespect to Waterford or anything, I had a good season there last year.
“Coming back does feel nice; it does feel like I never left and still knowing some of the lads from last time helps too.”
As well as Lunney and Casey, the Gypsies have made five additional new signings with Canadian international Kris Twardek the most eye-catching.
The departure of Ireland Under-21 full-back Daragh Leahy for Dundalk and the retirement of captain Derek Pender required reinforcements, and Lunney feels the group have gelled quickly.
“I think the new lads settled in grand so far. With Bohs, it’s always a club that makes players feel welcome.
“A lot of that is down Keith [Long] and Trevor [Croly] who make everyone gel together and all the lads get on well.
“We have a very strong squad this year, have a lot of players, and a lot of players looking to do well. Everyone is driving each other on.
“There’s no heads down so that’s always a good sign. But we need to focus on the next games and pick up as many points as possible.”
While it wasn’t the ideal homecoming for Lunney – Aaron Greene’s strike deep in injury time ensured that – Lunney took heart from how Bohs reacted to adversity.
Full-back Andy Lyons was sent off midway through the second half and Bohs were forced to dig in, and Lunney feels they deserved more than a wooden spoon for their efforts.
“We needed a bit of luck and it didn’t come our way, so obviously we’re disappointed to lose but we have to move on quick and look forward to next Friday.
“Going down to 10 for the last 30 minutes, we were hanging on in there doing so well so to concede so late its obviously tough to take you have to move on. A draw would have been a fair result.”