Warren O’Hora has praised former club Bohemians in the week he put pen to paper to become Brighton and Hove Albion’s first signing of the January transfer window.
The 18-year-old defender made the breakthrough at Bohs last season and captained the club’s Under-19 squad to the SSE Airtricity Under-19 league title. However, he will now don the blue and white of Brighton’s Under-23 side.
“It was the club I wanted to go to; they had a big interest in me for a couple of months,” O’Hora told the Dublin Gazette from the seaside town. “They asked for a trial during the season but I couldn’t go, obviously, because I was playing football with Bohs.
“I knew a few guys over here; Jay Molumby, Aaron Connolly and a few of the other boys. They told me all about it so when I got here, it wasn’t a big surprise.”
O’Hora came through the ranks at St Kevin’s Boys before making the move to Bohemians, and credits the pathway he took as being vital to his progression.
Former teammate Fuad Sule also recently made the move to England, signing for League Two outfit Barnet.
“It is an example of the good players that are in the league. There are a lot of young prospects coming through, especially in Bohs itself. There is a great pathway to get into the Bohs first team so I would encourage any player to go there at a young age. It is a great club and gives chances to young players like myself and Fuad.”
O’Hora had trials with Shrewsbury and Norwich shortly before Brighton, managed by former Republic of Ireland international Chris Hughton, and both were interested in signing him, but he only had eyes for one club.
“The facilities are obviously top class and everything is done properly. Having a few Irish boys makes it a bit earlier; makes it feel a little bit like you are at home.”
Movements are being made in Ireland to convince young players to stay longer in Ireland before making the move to the UK, and O’Hora is a fine example of how it can benefit players.
“Obviously, it is a good pathway to go down. Most players that move at a young age come home. I don’t know why that is; maybe they haven’t matured properly or developed.
“Any Irish lads who want to go to England don’t necessarily have to go at 15 or 16. They can stay in the League of Ireland, try to get into the first team, and work their way from there.”
O’Hora has now been in England for two weeks and is already starting to settle in.
“I was a little nervous coming over, obviously, but it was something I wanted to do and it is the career I chose. My family and friends are all happy for me and, at the end of the day, it is only a 45-minute flight away so it’s not too bad.”