Shamrock Rovers’ Head Coach Stephen Bradley gave us his thoughts on the game v Finn Harps:
On the League Cup final defeat to Dundalk:
“I think anyone who watched the game could tell it was an even game up until the sending off. We had chances, they had chances, both teams were playing good football. It was a good, entertaining game and it could have went either until the sending off. Then we’ve got to push on and try to get something out of the game in the last 15 or 20 minutes and they catch us on the break. It was always going to be difficult and they made the extra man count.
It doesn’t matter who you’re playing, if you lose your runner on the corner you’re going to get done and that’s what happened to us for the early goal. It was frustrating because the game hadn’t even settled. I was delighted with the reaction we had and the manner in which it didn’t affect our game. In the first half we grew stronger and stronger.”
“I thought Aaron Bolger’s first yellow card was harsh. The second one, I can see why he’s given it, it’s a tackle and he’s followed through. Once refs give a soft first yellow card they back themselves into a corner then. He’s a good kid with a great attitude. He wants to be a footballer and wants to learn. The sending off is definitely something he’ll learn from but he was outstanding on the day.
He’s 17 and playing against three midfielders who’ve won everything there is to win in this country and I thought he was as good as every one of them, if not better. He was outstanding on the day. He’s played in some big games for this club in the last few weeks and he looks like he’s been here for 10 years.”
“With the operation Gary Shaw had he was on a soft, liquid diet so he couldn’t really eat and had no energy. Mikey O’Connor had done well in training as well so it was a combination of a few things (before the final). Thankfully Gary has trained all week now, so him, Sam Bone, Luke Byrne and Sean Boyd are all back. Aaron Bolger is suspended.
We’ve had Aaron Dobbs (on loan at Wexford) and Sean Heaney (on loan at Waterford) watched the last few weeks and obviously at the game at the weekend so we know how both are getting on. The two lads have gone out to get first team experience and are experiencing total different scenarios. One is fighting down at the bottom and one has won a league but great experience for both of them.”
“It’s a massive game against Finn Harps. We know they’re fighting for their lives. It’s Pat’s and Dundalk after that so there’s a lot of big games to come. We’re fighting with Derry for third spot and hoping to get into the FAI Cup final as well so a big few weeks ahead. I’ve been around long enough to know that in the run-in there’s no easy games.
I expect a tight game. Harps are a team that don’t get beaten by many goals, more often than not, they come with a good game plan. They’re hard to beat and dangerous from set pieces and on the counter attack. If we play the way we have been in the last 3 months or so and the way we played last week for 60 minutes I believe we’ll be OK.
A lot was made of it when Derry beat us here, 99% of anyone I spoke to was doom and gloom and wrote us off for third place. We said the table would chop and change and it has. The team has been outstanding, winning 7 games in a row and I’ve no doubt we can start another little run on Friday.”