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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Paul O'Hehir

Declan McDaid eyeing revenge for Cup humiliation as Bohemians return to Tolka Park

The walk of shame towards the Bohs fans at the Ballybough End was slow and laboured because the players knew what was coming.

The sun may have been splitting the stones for last September’s FAI Cup quarter-final with Shels, but the Gypsies couldn’t shake the dark cloud hanging over them.

A disappointing season had just got a hell of a lot worse and the sorry 3-0 defeat marked their lowest ebb of a year to forget.

Bohs players trudged towards their fans, almost with their hands up in a fitting nod to their surrender on the pitch.

Caretaker boss Derek Pender labelled the performance “disgraceful and embarrassing” and the vitriol that came the players’ way can’t have been a surprise.

Declan McDaid doesn’t need any reminding ahead of tonight’s return trip to Tolka Park as the Scot was one of four Bohs players hooked and replaced at half-time.

“That was a bad day,” he recalls. “Nobody turned up in the starting XI, not even the subs who came on at half-time.

“It was weird, a complete off day for everyone, not just one or two. We need to put that right because that was a real disappointment.”

Bohs’ Declan McDaid (©INPHO/James Crombie)

Fast forward to today and Bohs couldn’t have asked for a better start to the new season, sitting top-of-the-table after wins over Dundalk and Cork City.

Declan Devine, who was appointed manager a month after that Shels defeat, has revamped the Gypsies with 12 new winter signings.

McDaid is one of seven established first-teamers to be retained and the 27-year-old admits he has a point to prove.

“Not to anyone else, just to myself,” said the winger who scored in last week’s 2-1 win over Dundalk.

“Personally I’d have liked to have done better last season so hopefully I take that into this year.

“I came halfway through last season and I think it was 10 players signed in that summer period which is a big turnaround.

“But I didn't feel I did well, and the team didn't do well. I was always staying as I wanted to prove myself.”

Bohs are now a full-time operation and have scrapped their evening sessions in order to train in the mornings.

For McDaid, it’s a welcome move back to what he was used to in Scotland when he played for Dundee, Ayr United and Partick Thistle.

“We’ve food in and we're all sitting together,” he said. “There’s more time together to bond.

“Everyone is together and working hard for each other and you know the man next to you is going to put in a shift and you have his back.

“What a difference it is when everyone is working hard for each other. Last year was tough. You all saw it.

“Games like Dundalk last week, if we were 2-0 up we're probably conceding and very nervous, or maybe we would concede two and lose the game in the last 10.

“I came halfway through last season and from what I heard it was a poor first half to the season as well and maybe boys' heads went.

“Maybe it was a mentality, I don't know where it came from. But it's definitely gone now and there's just a different feel to it, I don't know why.

“The manager is instilling hard work and everyone to a man is bang into it. There’s a real togetherness and it's showing on the pitch.”

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