Stephen Bradley looking to manage Rovers in Europe once again next season  (Credit: Macdara Ferris)

Euro prize close out at hand for the Hoops and Bradley
Published: September 24, 2017

The next seven days could all but secure European football for Shamrock Rovers in 2018. Last Friday’s 4-1 home win over Finn Harps continues Rovers' great momentum coming into the close of the season – the Hoops have eight wins out of nine in all competitions.


In the league this Monday Rovers take on St. Patrick’s Athletic in a Dublin Derby in Inchicore. A win would move the Hoops seven points clear of fourth place Derry City, with four games remaining for Rovers (Derry have five left).


The top three in the league are guarenteed Europe along with an FAI Cup spot. With both Cork City and Dundalk set to finish above Rovers, a semi-final win for City over Limerick next Friday would effectively mean fourth place would be good enough for Rovers for Europe. The Hoops play Dundalk in the other semi-final on Sunday at Oriel Park.


At the start of August after Rovers lost 2-0 at home to Derry City, they trailed the Candystripes by eight points. However since then the Hoops have won four on the bounce in the league while City have lost all three of their league games – including a demoralising 5-0 home defeat to Bray last Friday.


“When we lost to Derry everyone thought we were done and dusted but I knew that the way were playing back then that we were playing well,” said Stephen Bradley the Hoops Head Coach after Friday’s win over Finn Harps.


“We sat down and had a chat as a group and we felt we were doing the right things. It was just a matter of time before we clicked and we have and we’re on a great run.


“The lads deserve enormous credit as they’ve shown character in winning some tough tough games. (Harps) had the potential to be a tough game. When you are playing a team with Paddy McCourt it is always a dangerous opposition as the man has magic in his feet.”


Bradley deployed James Doona off the bench to score twice and the 19-year-old player showed some slick footwork that even McCourt would have been happy with.


“He is both footed, has lovely balance and can beat players. He has been excellent and will be a big player for us,” said Bradley about Doona.


The Rovers boss has used Donna sparingly in the league this season – giving him just two starts along with 11 sub appearances - but Bradley is delighted to have him increasing the competition for places in Rovers’ starting XI.


“The other boys know that James is bang on it and they have to perform to play. Sometimes our training games are as good as our match games as everyone wants to play. That is something we wanted to bring to the club this year.


“We wanted lads who wouldn’t be comfortable in their position and knew that there were players breathing down their neck. There is great competition for places.”


The Hoops have failed to get a win this season over the Saints who sit second from bottom in the table coming into Monday’s game. “It is massive game for us but a big big game for them too.


"We haven’t performed against Pat’s this year in both games and that has been disappointing. We have to go and put that right on Monday.”


Bradley believes that his team are getting better as shown in their results since the completion of the first round of games. Since then in the league they have won 11, drawn one and lost five times – prior to that they had lost six Premier Division games in the 11 played in the opening series.


“I think you can see the difference with us now than from the first round of games where we would have got nervous and sat back like we did against Limerick and one or two other games.”


“Anyone that listened to me – or wanted to listen to me – I’ve been saying all year we will get better with time. I think we have shown that. If you take the first round of games out, we are right up there in terms of points with the top teams. We are still nowhere near where we want to be but we are going in the right direction.”



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Macdara Ferris

Macdara Ferris is a contributor since 2007 to Hoops Scene (Shamrock Rovers' match day programme) and the co-author of Tallaght Time: Shamrock Rovers 2009 to 2012. He still believes that one day he will see Rovers win the FAI Cup. The first international game he attended was Luxembourg being dispatched 2-1 at Lansdowne Road by Jack Charlton's Ireland team.

He has been a writer with since 2012 covering the League of Ireland, the Irish National team and a few Champions League finals. He has also been known to pop up in far flung places like Ballybofey, Belfast, Berlin and Brazil to report for extratime.

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