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Konopka Settles On The Irish Coast – Yanks Abroad
April 7, 2008

By Michael Adubato
Monday, April 7, 2008

Former Kansas City Wizards goalkeeper Chris Konopka has come to Europe to ply his trade on the Emerald Island, signing for Dublin-based team Bohemian F.C.

“As soon as the season ended in KC, I started to put some feelers out for a new club,” the Toms River, New Jersey native told Yanks Abroad.

“I was getting some feedback in Scandinavia when I ended up talking to my former college assistant coach who had some ties over here and knew that Bohs had a new coaching staff coming in and were searching for a keeper. I got a call from Pat Fenlon (head coach) about a day later and he invited me in for preseason, which started a week later. After two weeks of preseason, Pat offered me the contract and I’ve been here ever since,” added Konopka.

The U-23 National Team player realizes that it may take a little time to settle in with a new team in a new country but is very optimistic about his chances.

“The training has been top class every day working with Dermot O’Neill (goalkeeper coach) and the other keeper, Brian Murphy,” Konopka said. “This is a great place to further my development and grow more into the player that I want to become.”

The 6’5″ youngster has seen a difference between the Irish Premier League and Major League Soccer.

“The training sessions here are very intense! I’m not saying they weren’t in the MLS, but here it’s very physical and very passionate with intense sessions and games,” he said. “Here we also have videotaped training sessions to look at form and technique while you train, in order to study and correct anything that can be changed.”

Other than the differences in training, the atmosphere is also very different according to Konopka.

“The atmosphere here is fantastic! The fans and the seating are right up against the field, unlike in America where the games are played in 70,000-seat football stadiums and there are only 9,000 or 10,000 in attendance. The atmosphere [in Ireland] is loud and crazy for games and I love that!”

Konopka is also enjoying life off the soccer field and is happy to hear the waves crashing, just like back home.

“I’m living right on the Irish Sea, which for a Jersey Shore boy is a lot better fit than the farmlands of Kansas,” he admitted. “I actually have awoken to some surfable waves every now and again since I have been here. I am definitely going to invest in a long board in the future, and a very, very thick wet suit!”

With the Irish season just a few games old, the shot stopper (who had trials with both Charlton Athletic and Cardiff City during his senior year at Providence College) is biding his time.

“As the season goes on I’ll be trying to break into some first team games,” he said.

Hopefully, his time will come sooner rather than later for the fabled Bohs.