Declan Devine believes the ‘sky is the limit’ for Bohemians teenager James McManus, the 17-year-old combining Leaving Cert preparations with professional football in an unusual timetable.
he midfielder is attending St Declan’s in Cabra but has the flexibility to be able to train full-time with Bohs while catching up on classes missed in the evening.
Devine explained the midfielder’s routine after he started in Monday night’s 3-1 victory over Drogheda United as Bohs won for the third time in four games. “He trains with us on a Monday and a Tuesday, has a full day at school on Wednesday, trains with us on a Thursday and goes back those three afternoons,” explained Devine.
“He comes in for breakfast with us, trains every morning, makes up his work at home in the evenings and then goes back to school after lunch every day. Then, on a Friday, he is at school, then he comes here and plays.
“The kid does not need to do anything at the minute except enjoy his football. We don’t need to put any pressure on him. He comes in every morning on his bike and then heads back to school in the afternoon.
“He is playing at a wonderful football club; we will look after him both on and off the pitch; he does not even need looking after, he is so mature – a grade A student at school, and he comes from a strong family.”
Bohs have tied McManus down to a long-term contract, and it is therefore anticipated there will be interest from overseas in the near future.
“The sky is the limit. He is tied to a four-year contract here, that is the limit,” continued Devine. “If anyone wants him, they can write their cheques, but this boy is only going to get better. Honestly.
“I have been very fortunate to work with good players in the past. I worked with players like Paddy McCourt, Niall McGinn; I coached Liam Coyle, the late Mark Farren – God rest him – Ryan McBride. This kid at 17 is something special, he is really good
“The kid will, first and foremost, be an outstanding player for us, and wherever that brings him after that, we will see down the line.
“He is just a wonderful kid, a lovely lad, very unassuming. How I know if there is a special talent there is when the senior players are ranting and raving about him. He has got unbelievable competition for places in the middle of the park, and that boy is pushing the door really hard to push every game.”