The last time Matt Doherty played at Bohemians he did well enough to secure a move for Wolves.
The friendly fixture back at Dalymount Park on Wednesday, and firstly tonight’s trip to face Shamrock Rovers, is home from home for Doherty who is one of the many Irish ‘exports’ to have graced Molineux in recent years.
It was pre-season in 2010 that Doherty seized upon a chance to make his Boh’s debut – and mark Matt Jarvis – in a game which formed part of Wolves’ preparations for their second successive Premier League season.
At the time he was working for his Dad’s carpet cleaning business and playing part-time for Boh’s in their Under-21 team.
A good performance against Wolves, and then Aston Villa the following week, and then a successful trial. And the rest is history!
There is even more symmetry with Doherty this pre-season as Wolves’ opponents on Friday night – Cheltenham – provided the opposition when he actually clinched his move to Molineux during that trial four years ago.
“It will be good to get back to Ireland for these two games and I am looking forward to the trip,” says the 22-year-old defender, who captained the team during the second half of Friday's 3-1 win at Whaddon Road.
“It’s about getting some match fitness on top of the training and after the Cheltenham game to get another two should be really good.
“I was only playing for Bohemians Under-21s whilst I was still working with my Dad.
“I think they had a cup game on a Friday and it was a draw so the replay was the following Friday the day before the Wolves game.
“With the first team having had a game the night before some of the younger boys got a chance against Wolves and so I came in and got 55 minutes, up against Jarvo!
“It was an exciting challenge for me.
“My Dad said to me it was a really good chance for me and we followed up the Wolves game by playing against Villa as well.
“I actually played better against Villa I think!
“I then came on trial and we actually played against Cheltenham – at Cheltenham – and Mick McCarthy rang me on the bus on the way home to say he wanted to try and get something sorted.
“And it all took on from there.
“A few weeks later I came back over and signed and the rest is history.”
The intervening four years have generally provided a meteoric rise for Doherty.
First establishing himself at reserve/Under-21 level, making his Wolves debuts in cup competitions, a Premier League debut at Anfield, and successful loan spells with Hibernian and Bury.
The first real blot on the landscape came last season when, having proved himself in the second half of the previous Championship campaign, he started in excellent form before suffering the first real injury problems of his career.
Fit again by the end of the season, he has come back strongly this pre-season, ready and waiting for the intense battle to gatecrash the record-breaking Molineux Mean Machine!
“Pre-season is always tough but it doesn’t feel as tough as maybe in the past,” he explains.
“I don’t think that’s down to it being any different but more that we have all come back in good shape and the fitness test results suggest that.
“I don’t think I could even keep going last year – that was how hard it was.
“But we’ve all come back in better shape and while it’s been hard, it hasn’t felt as tough as last year for me.
“I’ve come back and my hamstrings feel quite good – I’ve not any problems and long may that continue.
“I feel right up to the pace and back at it and looking forward to the pre-season and the season to come.
“It was good to get out there for the Coventry game at the end of last season.
“I probably wasn’t the sharpest or the fittest after having had the injury but to be out there again was really enjoyable.
“Just not to be injured has been nice – I’d never been injured before and it was quite a shock to miss so much of the season.
“It was quite a disappointing year on a personal note having started it all off well but the team got promoted and that’s the most important thing.
“I felt I could have kicked on even more last season had I not got injured.
“But that’s the way it happened and you just have to get on with it.
“The boys did really well and kicked on and got promoted and that was the main thing.
“I started last season really well and now it’s about trying to do that again, get in the team and show the gaffer what I can do.
“There are some great defenders here and we had a great defensive record last season.
“It’s a nice problem for the gaffer to have to pick the best from those.”
Doherty remains appreciative to Dean Saunders for handing him the opportunity in the Sky Bet Championship when, despite Wolves struggles, he was one of the brightest sparks during the ultimately doomed campaign.
That spell over the back half of the 2012/13 season has given the Republic of Ireland Under-21 international confidence that he will be able to once again shine at this level – a feature which be believes applies to the whole team.
“I felt quite comfortable in the Championship last time although for the team it didn’t end well,” Doherty recalls.
“I’d played a full season in League One beforehand and felt I made the step up quite well.
“I feel I can do the same again this year and even better.
“I just think this group of players here now has the right mentality for this league.
“I think there is a lot of potential for us to achieve as long as we continue to put the work into it.
“We are going the right way with this team and last season showed that.
“We’re still flying off what happened last season but mentally I think we are all looking at the right things.
“Although we have been promoted we need to make it that we are one of the teams people don’t want to play.
“We want to carry it on from last season in the way we were playing and passing the ball and that should work in our favour as well.
“The fans loved it last season and hopefully this time will be the same.”
What then of the Irish fans – or the Doherty fans – friends and family who will get the chance to see him represent Wolves on Irish soil tonight and on Wednesday.
“My family watch me a lot and will be there of course,” he says.
“My Dad, my Mum, brothers and sisters piling the pressure on me!
“I’m from Swords which isn’t too far away.
“A few of my mates will go to the game.
“They came to watch the MK Dons game last year but I was injured – I’m not sure they’ve seen me play for Wolves apart from on TV.
“It’s all changed since I was last at Boh’s.
“Even when I was there I was only playing Under 21s and wasn’t really involved with the first team.
“I’ve played some games for Ireland Under-21s at Shamrock Rovers and it’s a nice stadium with a massive pitch.
“The two teams will want to do well against us.
“They are in their season and will be fit and will be right on it and trying to impress.
“The managers will use it as an incentive that they have the chance to impress against a Championship team.”