HUNGRY FOR GOAL: Bohs striker Georgie Kelly. PICTURE: Eóin Noonan/Sportsfile
Georgie Kelly will always have a soft spot for Derry City - but the Burnfoot man will push sentiment aside this Friday as his Bohemians side take on the Candystripes in Dalymount Park in what promises to be an intriguing premier division clash (ko 7.45pm)
Kelly (24) has netted twice for the Dublin outfit since signing from Dundalk (via a loan spell with St Patrick's Athletic) last December, and he'll be hoping to make the scoresheet once more against Derry, the club where he made his professional debut at the age of 19.
He said: "I wish Ruaidhrí (Higgins, Derry manager) every success. I think that's a really good appointment they have made, and already he's got off to a great start with the result against Sligo.
"We may have caught them at a bad time. They will be feeling confident, but we are feeling good too. We've had mixed results, but it's very early days and we're hoping to have a good season."
Finn Harps will be keeping an eye on the result here as they play Derry at the Brandywell on Bank Holiday Monday.
Since the season began, Kelly has played virtually every minute of Boh's seven league matches. That's in marked contrast his time at Dundalk, where number one striker Pat Hoban's supremacy limited the Donegal man mostly to appearances off the bench.
Despite this, however, he managed to score an impressive 14 goals in 48 appearances, and it was therefore no surprise that the Dublin side came calling when his loan spell at St Pat's came to an end last December.
Said Kelly: "I always knew it was going to be a task at Dundalk. Pat is one of the best strikers in the history of the league.
"But if you don't go and try these things, you never learn. I learned loads from Pat, and I chipped in with a few goals, so I definitely don't regret any of it.
"I pushed for the loan deal at St Pat's because I wanted to get playing more, and because Stephen O'Donnell (former Dundalk captain) was the manager. He was what attracted me there. His knowledge of the game is like nothing I've ever seen."
Kelly made 12 appearances for St Pat's, but struggled to make an impact, largely due to underlying injury niggles.
He explained: "I was coming from Dundalk, where I'd not played in consecutive matches for two years, and my body just wasn't fit.
"I found myself really struggling after 30/40 minutes, and had this wee signal to let the boys know I needed to come off.
"It turned out a lot of it was down to lactic acid building up.
"A period of two or three weeks out to build up my aerobic fitness would have sorted it, but because the season was shortened last year, the games were coming thick and fast and I just didn't have that time."
"I would have considered a permanent deal with Pat's at the end of last year, but at the time everything was up in the air. They had finished sixth, and so there were budgetary considerations before they could agree terms with the players they had and the players they were interested in.
"Bohs came in much earlier, and to be honest everything seemed to be suited to me. I'm doing a Masters degree (in renewable energy and finance) at UCD, so playing with a Dublin team was perfect.
"They had an unbelievable season last year, finishing second, and they have one of the best fan bases in the country, so it just seemed like the right move for me.
"In many ways, this is my first year playing fully in the premier division, so that's exciting for me personally."
Unfortunately, the legendary fans' roar at Dalymount Park has not been heard by Kelly and his teammates at all this season.
And it's that support on the terraces, he believes, that every club needs to have back for the good of the game.
"We're seeing some really weird results," he said, "and my hypothesis is that having no fans in the ground changes things massively.
"When you don't have that crowd noise, games can die off and momentum dies. As a team, you try to create your own atmosphere, but it's hard.
"And it's frustrating, because Bohs have a massive fanbase. They sold out every match in 2019, so not to have that is a real negative.
"I'd say it's been a big factor with Derry too, not having that crowd at the Brandywell. The quicker we can all get a few fans in, the better."
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